Following EPA’s 1997 report “Response to Congress on Use of Decentralized Wastewater Systems”, the EPA Office of Research and Development began to provide increased funding for decentralized wastewater treatment research. The recipient of this funding was the National Decentralized Water Resources Capacity Development Project (NDWRCDP), less formally known as the Decentralized Water Resources Collaborative (DWRC). The DWRC was created to address the need for cost-effective water resource management in rural and suburban areas.

DWRC work has been carried out in two phases. Washington University at St. Louis administered Phase 1 (1997-2003). The DWRC conducted nearly 30research and development projects in Phase 1. All of the reports and products developed are available on this website.

WERF administers Phase 2 (2003-2010) of the DWRC through a Cooperative Agreement with EPA. WERF and its partners formed a Decentralized Systems Advisory Committee (DSAC) to help evaluate national needs and provide guidance relative to decentralized funding priorities.

DSAC partners each focus on different high priority research areas. WERF, through its Decentralized Research Advisory Council (DRAC), determines projects and priorities in the area of environmental science and engineering. CAWT, EPRI, and NRECA focus on management, economics and policy issues. CIDWT and NOWRA have taken the lead in the arena of training and education. Together, the collective and coordinated efforts of the DWRC partners work to fill a broad array of information and training gaps critical to the decentralized field.

The WERF Board of Directors approves all projects proposed by the DRAC and DSAC. There are roughly forty research projects in the Phase 2 program valued at nearly $7 million. WERF has volunteer Project Subcommittees (PSCs) for each project that are tasked with drafting Request for Proposals, selecting contractors, and providing peer review and oversight. A WERF staff member provides support to the PSC and Principal Investigator.