Saturday, October 17, 2009

Aerobic Treatment Units ATU

Before my rant begins I just want to express my amazement and gratitude at how many hits this blog receives each!! I'm starting to get embarrassed. Thank you, I appreciate the fact that so many people take the time to read some of these comments.

I want to take some time to poke fun at a class of onsite wastewater treatment systems (yeah, right) referred to as ATU's or aerobic treatment units. These contraptions are slapped together by a variety of snake-oil purveyors and find their way into peoples yards through a complex and effective manipulation of smoke, mirrors, sleight of hand, payola and coercion, in other words, marketing. In their most basic form (and that's really all there is) they are simply aerated septic tanks. Somehow, someone figured out that that could toss a fish tank aerator into a common septic tank and charge thousands of dollars for it.

(The heart of the scam can be found at your state or local environmental health office however. This is because if the regulations determine that you need and ATU, you cannot simply go buy your own aerator for $250.00 and stick the hose in your septic tank have to go pay thousands of dollars to buy their aerator so they can stick the hose in your septic tank.)

You have to admit, that's pretty slick marketing... unless you happen to be the one paying for it of course. What's really funny about ATU's is the lengths each peddler will go to to try to differentiate their ATU from all other ATU's. This is a losing battle because they are all exactly the same thing, Aerated Septic Tanks. Some will extol the virtues of the geometric precision of their dynamic aeration chamber which leads to enhanced treatment including the conversion of chicken-shit into chicken salad. Others will try to close the blinds on your ability to think by telling you that their gizmo provides an attachment surface for tired little microbes and thus combines suspended and fixed growth processes. This is of course chicken salad (or was it the other one?) because they don't put enough attachment media in the things to do's all a hoax, period. All the work is done by the air compressor that runs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year. And yes, the electrical cost is significant.

As far as actual treatment results.....well let's just say that, from what I have seen, the only data that shows that these Aerated Septic Tanks consistently remove nitrogen from wastewater, is the data the snake-oil salesmen have paid for. In other words, in real-world applications, where they are not being spoon-fed a select diet of organically grown, antibiotic free, scientifically diluted, free range wastewater prepared by the galloping gourmet, served according to a precise dining schedule and in carefully measured bite-sized pieces, they just do not seem to work......

ATU's do, however, come complete with an extensive list of excuses provided free of charge by the manufacturer as to why that stink-pot in your back yard is not doing the job you paid for. When the list is exhausted, most of the peddlers have a toll free phone number you can call to get more. I hear a few of these companies have web sites where you can download thousands of previously tested excuses that are guaranteed, in writing, to make you think the reason the thing is not working is your fault. Here are a few:

You are using too much water.
You are not using enough water.
You are using the correct amount of water at the wrong time.
Your water is too hard.
Your water is too soft.
Your water is just right and the monotony is killing the microbes off.
Have you tried talking to it? Try enunciating more clearly.
Have you tried praying for it? To it?
You need to buy another "pod".
You are using antibacterial soap. Can't you just rinse off outside?
You are taking penicillin or some other antibiotic.
You can't use oral contraceptives and expect this thing to work!
How do you expect it to work with all these kids you have?!

ATU....Always Trouble Underground
ATU...Another Troubled Unit
ATU...Always Totally Under-performs

Monday, October 5, 2009

Residential Onsite Wastewater Treatment System Cost

We finished up a job last week.....the original plans showed the other guys system. A single family home, five bedrooms, nothing special, was being served. I guess they decided to check us out after they received the quote for the components of the system. It was almost $18,000.00 just for the parts!

The Eliminite system came in at $10,800 for the entire system. And we are making a handsome profit at that price.

Like I said....Better products. Better prices.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Smart onsite design means big cost savings

Advanced onsite wastewater treatment systems are expensive so it is important to get the most value for your money. I want to provide an example of the savings you can realize by selecting an Eliminite system rather than another competing onsite wastewater treatment system. We recently quoted a project with a design flow rate of 5000 GPD. The project engineer had the "big manufacturer" draw up a design and he just pasted it into his plans. The system included a 15,000 gal fiberglass septic tank, 2 treatment boxes full of their media, a 4000 gal recirculation tank, 4000 gal dosing tank, an electric heater and a fresh water cistern to wash off the media everytime it clogs. The owner was also being required to install a dedicated phone line, presumably because the system needed to chat with someone.

The Eliminite system consisted of 2, 3000 gal concrete septic tanks and 2, Eliminite 320 C treatment units. (The largest tank the local concrete company we were working with has is 3000 gal or else we could have done the entire system in one or two tanks.) We do not need the enormous septic tank volume because our MetaRocks are much less likely to clog. The big guys media is so fine and has such little pores that even the tiniest piece of gunk will get caught on the surface and send the whole thing on its way to bio-foul city. The Eliminite design is much simpler, more compact and is not nearly as sensitive installation so the contractor does not have to get stressed out about fractions of inches in elevation. Our price came in a full $10,000 lower than theirs on parts alone. By the time you figure in labor Eliminite blows them away! But, here is the kicker: The competition was so angry that we were bidding the job that they bullied the project engineer into making us bid it with the big fiberglass septic tank even though we don't need one that large. And I am fairly certain that the competitions local distributor is deviating from the manugacturers recommendations regarding system design to try to get his prices down. But, even in the face of their dirty dealings, we were still $10,000 lower than their bid. Without the huge fiberglass septic tank, which we will omit and substitute correctly sized septic tanks, our bid will be around $20,000 below theirs.....not bad considering their price was around $85,000. Our price was for the ENTIRE system...sewer, septic tank, treatment system and drainfield.

The simple truth is that Eliminite is the smartest choice for onsite wastewater treatment systems and I can prove it. Oh....our treatment numbers are better too and we did not need a water cistern to wash the media. Our MetaRocks don't clog the way the other guys media does which means our maintenance is far less invasive, far less expensive and far less STINKY.

I was driving around the other day and I saw one of the competing systems in someones backyard. What a mess!! If I were the homeowner I would bring them up on charges for sticking all that junk right off my patio! Vents, risers, big lids, cleanouts. There is no way you could put up a volleyball net, or a small swimming pool, or throw a ball. The centerpiece of the entire backyard is the shit tank....And when they come next week to hose down the clogged media, you know where the mess is going. It will be splashed all over the patio furniture, the barbecue grill, the dog will be rolling in it. Give us a call and we can help you avoid those kind of mistakes. One lady told me she cursed the day they put the other system in her yard. When she saw how unobtrusive the Eliminite is and what she could have had, I thought she was going to cry.