Southern Regional Water Program

Research, Extension & Education Water Quality Programs through the Land Grant University System

Waste Management in North Carolina

Waste products and other by-products come from almost every segment of society. Industry, agriculture, and people all generate numerous by-products that often have beneficial reuse potential. Proper waste management is a necessity for today’s civilization. The volume and complexity of the waste streams generated by people, industry, and agriculture require that waste be handled using environmentally sound and economically viable methods, recovering and reusing as much of the material as possible. As regulations relating to discharges to surface waters and air quality impacts increase, land application programs become increasingly important.

North Carolina ranks high in both industrial output as well as animal production. Balancing the land application of the byproducts from these processes is often very challenging. Teams of experts are used to evaluate the by-products and manures, develop treatment and storage systems, evaluate acceptable land application sites, educate the managers of these systems, and monitor the long range effectiveness of the projects. North Carolina State University, in cooperation with other universities and state and federal agencies, is a leader in the development of waste management in the state.

Engineers and scientists have teamed together to develop sustainable land application programs for the variety of wastes and byproducts generated in North Carolina and its neighboring states. With the large volume of animal manures generated in the state, along with the need for odor management and other public perception issues, much time and energy has been spent in the animal waste arena. Traditional land application methods are being coupled with innovative ways to treat, store, land apply, and sometimes market the material. The long range goal of successful land application programs is not only the management of the waste but also the sustainability of the industry.


On-site wastewater management is another significant issue in North Carolina. Approximately 50% of the domestic wastewater that is generated is treated by septic systems and ultimately the soil. Impacts to groundwater and nutrient sensitive watersheds must be identified and monitored closely. Many innovative ways to handle small sewage flows have been initiated over the past ten years.

Other related aspects to waste generation and waste management include water quality and watershed programs, nutrient management programs, pollution assessment and prevention, and human and environmental health. These related programs can also be seen on this site.

Resources and Programs

North Carolina State University (NCSU) provides extensive involvement in many aspects of waste management. Below are some key links to information and resources available to assist you.

Extension Outreach

Educational information on waste management is available from North Carolina Cooperative Extension through both campus contacts and county programs. NCSU-Cooperative Extension offers short courses, week long workshops, and credit level courses covering all levels of waste management. Some key programs are linked below:

Scientific Research

Ongoing research is performed to assess the effectiveness of current programs and to develop better technologies for waste management. The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at NCSU conducts research programs and projects in all aspects of water quality. A comprehensive list and description of NCSU research categorized by river basins in NC is available. Some specific program areas include:

The Animal and Poultry Waste Management Center is currently conducting research into 19 types of innovative waste technologies.

On-Site Wastewater Treatment research examines systems that minimize nutrient loss and maximize treatment effectiveness.

Faculty associated with Animal Waste System Management conduct research on waste application equipment to minimize losses and maximize uniformity and reuse.

Composting research includes investigations into various blends of municipal, industrial, and yard waste.

Biosolids research at NCSU includes studies of mineralization rates for municipal, animal, and industrial by-products.

College and University Education

Youth and continuing adult education are critical to develop new talent and human resources to address the water quality issues of the future. Educational curricula in waste management are available within several departments at NCSU. The NCSU Water Quality Group has compiled a list of water-related courses offered at NCSU.

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