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Helping communities and businesses access compliance, technical and financial assistance for their environmental needs.

Ohio communities with wastewater treatment plants that have design capacities ranging from 1000 gallons per day up to 5 million gallons a day (MGD) can access free on-site assistance to help address problems at their wastewater treatment plants. DEFA’s Publicly Owned Treatment Works (POTW) Compliance Assistance Unit (CAU) experts work alongside local wastewater treatment staff to help identify factors impacting the plant’s ability to operate in compliance with its discharge permits. For more than 20 years, DEFA CAU staff have traveled the state, helping POTWs identify and create cost-effective, affordable solutions to bring them back into compliance. Some of the services provided include:

  • conducting plant performance evaluations to identify causes of compliance issues such as problems with plant design, plant operation, administration, etc.;
  • troubleshooting complex plant problems;
  • creating innovative and cost-effective solutions for improving plant performance;
  • offering onsite training of personnel in process control procedures such as nutrient analysis (ammonia, nitrate, orthophosphate), solids inventory and sludge wasting, and clarifier optimization, including return rates;
  • helping improve sludge handling and disposal procedures;
  • teaching operators inexpensive, easy and effective methods of process control;
  • investigating concerns over industrial dischargers that may be impacting the system;
  • determining current plant loadings and capacities;
  • helping facilitate Inflow & Infiltration evaluations of sewer systems;
  • reviewing/evaluating new treatment technologies; and
  • providing training presentations at wastewater trade seminars and workshops.

By working with DEFA staff, communities have saved money, lowered operating costs and are now are operating in compliance after receiving CAU assistance. DEFA is committed to helping small communities avoid expensive enforcement proceedings through the use of technical know-how and hands-on experience to achieve compliance with their discharge permit requirements. If you need assistance, or have any questions regarding what CAU might be able to do for you, please contact Jon Bernstein at (614) 644-3715 or

How does the Compliance Assistance Unit (CAU) work? Here’s an example:

The CAU was contacted by a treatment plant manufacturer about a new wastewater treatment plant that was not meeting its discharge permit. The community was threatening to call in a performance bond due to the noncompliance. The system was supposed to spray irrigate treated wastewater on a dedicated field, but was not meeting the total inorganic nitrogen limit of 10 mg/L required by its permit. The CAU began its troubleshooting process by performing wet chemistry analysis and installing data logging instruments to measure critical chemical parameters. Through this analysis, the performance limiting factors were identified. A process control scheme was created to give the operator a decision-making strategy based on the new process control data collection procedures. The CAU continued to work with the operator until he was comfortable with the new procedures and the wastewater treatment plant was consistently meeting permit limits. Through the cooperation of the operator, the owner, the consulting engineer, and the CAU, litigation and enforcement was avoided and the wastewater treatment system has maintained long-term compliance.