Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Follow-up to last post

In my last post I told you about a system we installed four (4) years ago that the maintenance provider failed to inspect.  The system is at a high elevation in an area frequently mentioned on the weather channel as having the daily low temperature in the continental United States.  It is clearly NOT the NSF test facility in Waco, Texas.  It has been in continuous use.

The samples came back today and the system that has received NO MAINTENANCE for 4 years was producing effluent with 9 mg/l total nitrogen.  That's Ammonia + Nitrate + Nitrite + Organic Nitrogen, Total Nitrogen = 9 mg/l.

Our MetaRocks media looked as perfect as the day it was installed.  I am fairly certain that there is not a system available that can make this claim. And, when you factor in the price, Eliminite represents the best value in onsite wastewater treatment. This is an indisputable fact.

The "Big Guys" have been spending a lot of time on this blog.  They must be pretty slow in the manufacturing plant or they must be trying to figure out what to copy from Eliminite next.   I hear through the grapevine that their maintenance providers are still pretty busy though.  How would you like to be a homeowner, fighting through this awful economic recession only to get yet another bill for service to your septic system. And, if you don't pay it, they void your warranty (here is a secret, you never really had one anyway, it was always YOUR fault) and then, in order that the insult be brought fully to fruition, they turn you into the State for not renewing your maintenance contract. 

Here are some total nitrogen numbers from a third party test being conducted on one of our systems in in New Mexico:
11.2  I made an adjustment here to get the number down.
6.75  It looks like it worked.
The background Total Nitrogen was around 60 mg/l. 

These were taken over about a 6 month period from one little ol' Eliminite that cost a ton less than than one of those silly fish tank filter systems and about the same as those ridiculous septic tank bubbler activated sludge contraptions. 
"Big Guy" Maintenance crew taking care of one of the "Big Guys" systems.

Eliminite Maintenance crew and work vehicle

Just joking Guys...relax.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Maintenance, O&M, and Service Requirements can tell you a lot about an onsite system.

Most of the onsite industry has it all wrong and is out of touch with the rest of society.   Think about it;  if you buy manufactured products, you know that manufacturers are trying to create products today that are more durable and reliable than yesterday's products.  Automobile manufacturers have improved the reliability of their vehicles to the point where many brands advertise 100,000 miles between tune ups.  Paint manufacturers have developed blends that claim 20 years between reapplications.  The mean time between failures for my new computer hard drive represents a 100 fold improvement over previous models.  Reliability has always been synonymous with quality; if something lasts a long time and does not require constant observation,  maintenance and service to remain functional, that is a clear indication of a high quality product. 

Certainly we have the option of buying cheaper, less reliable products that we know will not last, or will require intensive service to keep functional.  I am thinking Yugo here...remember them?  If you were a Yugo mechanic you could probably keep one running...for a little while, anyway. 

*As a quick aside, here are a couple of well-known Yugo jokes:  Do you know how you double the value of your Yugo?  Fill the gas tank.

What's the difference between a Yugo and a door-to-door salesman?  You can close the door on the salesman.

Obviously, when a product becomes the butt of jokes like this, it's time to throw away the mold and retool, or get out of the business.  Yugo chose the latter option.  Today, however, too few Yugo-esque onsite system manufacturers are throwing away their obsolete molds...instead of being innovative in their retooling efforts, they have become exceptionally innovative and ambitious in their lobbying, marketing and liability-reduction efforts.  It's cheaper to convince regulators that more rigorous maintenance programs are necessary than it is to develop a system that requires less maintenance. 

Many manufacturers of advanced onsite treatment systems prefer to move in a direction opposite of greater reliability, durability and reduced service toward a requirement for more maintenance visits, more media cleaning, more tank pumping.  One manufacturer has taken this idea to such extremes that the treatment system is required to be connected to a dedicated telephone line 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  Some might interpret this intense degree of remote monitoring as a sign that the product teeters on the edge of catastrophe every second of every day.  I say this because the only reason I can think of why a manufacturer would impose such a procrustean requirement is because it is a necessary  component if the system is to function at all.   I can't think of too many household products with a requirement for 24/7 remote monitoring...not even the really dangerous ones that commonly catch fire are shepherded with such sophisticated software.

I have a furnace in my home.  It could explode and burn the house down and with that in mind it represents an imminent danger.  But my furnace is not connected to a phone line.  Why?  Because it is reliable and the fact that it has been functioning for years with no trouble is the clearest indication of its quality.

In fact, the only thing I can think of that is connected to mission control 24/7 is the space shuttle and International Space Station (Who said septic systems are not rocket science?).

Now let me be clear; community, clustered and some rural systems do benefit from this type of monitoring and I appreciate the benefits they provide. I utilize these devices as a convenience.  The system will function adequately without 24/7 monitoring.  But, for single family residential systems, a SCADA control system is excessive, and the only reason you would include one as a minimum requirement is if the system really needs it to let someone know it's broken ...again. 

I suppose another handy feature of constant monitoring is that the manufacturer will have volumes of data to point to in the event of a system malfunction...any homeowner who dares to suggest that the manufacturer should assume the expenses associated with a premature malfunction or failure will likely be greeted with pages of data demonstrating how the malfunction or failure was the fault of the homeowner, not the system.  Perhaps the homeowner used more water than the system was designed to handle on several occasions during the months preceding the failure, or perhaps there was a power outage at the home while the owners were away, so the system wasn't on all day every day...all of this data and more will be available to the manufacturer with the click of a mouse. 

The notion that the primary purpose of remote monitoring is to "tweak" the system remotely, thereby eliminating the need for an in-person service call, just doesn't seem to play out in the field.  In fact, I have spoken with a number of maintenance providers who say that they have had to respond--in person--to every single alarm on every system they maintain.  Remote "fixes" are few and far between.  With the majority of alarm states occurring during highly inconvenient times such as holiday weekends when families host guests in their homes and flows increase, I can only imagine that a fair number of maintenance providers have grown tired of the overzealous remote monitoring programs because they seem to serve but one essential purpose:  to more effectively communicate a wider array of alarm states to maintenance providers so that an inherently unreliable technology can be coddled back into compliance whenever the pesky homeowner has done something to "wake the baby", so to speak.  By "something" I mean the homeowner has, for example, flushed a few too many times in a given 24-hour period.

I was on a job the other day with an Eliminite system that was installed about 4 years ago.  The property had been sold and the new owner asked me to visit with him and explain the system.  Apparently, the previous maintenance provider did not visit the system so it had been operation the whole time with no inspections.  When I arrived, we opened the lids, checked the pumps and panel and inspected the MetaRocks treatment media.  Everything was functioning correctly and the media was in perfect condition. No clogging biomat, no ponding, no stink and no need to hose off the media...no need to "fluff" it, change it jostle it.  I explained the system operation to the owner and when I arrived back at the office I found this email he sent:  

I'm impressed that a new concept can operate for 4 years from start-up with no malfunctions or routine check-ups. I've been through a lot of start-ups but not many that had no problems.

In my opinion, the requirement for perpetual maintenance contracts covering onsite system has allowed manufacturers to peddle systems that are fundamentally unreliable because they have to be covered under a service contract any way.  So who really cares if it work well or not, a Yugo mechanic is buying it.  This has resulted in the dumbing down of the entire industry because there is no driving force for innovation or improvement.

Eliminite rejects that position and successfully designs, builds and installs more durable, reliable, efficient and less costly advanced wastewater treatment systems than any other manufacturer. 

Do you remember the "lonely" Maytag repairman TV commercials? He was lonely because Maytag products were so reliable that all he did was sit in his shop waiting for a repair call that never came.  I would bet the pod people wish for a little Maytag solitude.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

It has been a long time since my last post because I just have not had the time to sit down and write something.  Actually, I have been writing a lot...design reports, site plans, new system designs, computer code etc.  My work load has necessitated that I put this aside for a while. 

We have been installing Eliminite systems in various configurations at an amazing pace and I appreciate the trust that has been placed in our products.  The pace has been so brisk that we have added two new distributors who have become very busy keeping up with the orders and installations.  I'll try to remember to get some photos up for you to look at.  

I know that some of my clients will see this new post and wonder why I am wasting time with this blog when I have system quotes to get out for them.  Don't worry, I'm getting caught up and you are next on my to-do list. 

If you are designing a system please please please, give us a call before you begin and discuss options.  I feel so bad for the guys that design with a competing system because they "design as I see fit" (actual quote from one of the particularly enlightened engineers) only to have their client find out about Eliminite and how much better we can serve them.  This situation leads to all kinds of ill feelings where we wind up redesigning the system (sometimes the whole development) and the developer vows never to use XXX and Associates ever again.  It is really pretty embarrassing for the engineer/designer so don't get hypnotized by their glossy marketing and slight of hand.  Eliminite makes sense and it is just plain better that peat pods, aerated septic tanks or textile filters.

Owners Prefer Eliminite
I spoke to an engineer a couple of days ago that told me his clients have NO CHOICE but to install a textile filter plastic pod system.  The engineer stated that the client MUST install a field of buried plastic boxes filled with fish tank fabric because they are required to do this by some obscure, unnamed entity.  In my opinion this sounds as if the engineer has some agreement with the supplier or manufacturer of the textile system because the client is surely not under any order to install the plastic pod system.  I spoke with the client on this job and he had no idea what the engineer was doing and had in fact been given an entirely different story than the engineer gave to me.

 At $700,000.00 for a 14,000 gpd textile pod septic system somebody has a pretty significant financial stake in this one.  The truth is I hear this line pretty often.  I think it is because most people want the best value for their money and when they compare Eliminite to every other system, we usually represent the highest value and they select one of our systems for their project.  Losing the sale causes the competing distributor to suffer from a sever case of heartburn and this is where the shennagins start.  They will tell the owner that they cannot even obtain a quote from Eliminite because, for instance, the State required the textile filters(absolutely untrue) or that we are working out of my garage(again untrue....my garage is so cluttered that I can barely walk through it let alone work out of it).  If you are an owner and start to hear statements like these, give me a call.  I will honestly discuss your job and your options with you. 

What really bothers me about the 14,000 gpd system above is that is it for a school and the students are trying to raise money for the septic system on Youtube.  So these kids are working hard trying to come up with creative ideas to build a septic system and the engineer will not even entertain the thought of a more reliable, less costly alternative.   The money they save could be used for silly things  like BOOKS, and TEACHERS.  This kind of crap is so common in this industry that it usually gets overlooked but it just makes me sick.  The engineers should b ashamed and demand that K-Mart refund their money for the licenses they purchased during a Blue Light Special.

Textile Company Decides Eliminite has the Best Design
In a previous posting I wrote about the well known septic textile company that is viewed by many as leader in the onsite industry copying one of our designs, effectively establishing Eliminite as the state of the art.  Our systems are designed deliberately to function reliably in a harsh environment.  Contrast this approach with the apparent acts of desperation of the textile company.  Maybe this explains why they have so many malfunctions, alarms, failures and discontent among their users.  Our goal is to provide reliable systems for a reasonable price.  I think, considering our growth, sales and now, imitation by big companies, we are accomplishing this goal.

Drowning with the Turkeys
Back in January 2007, Onsite Installer magazine published an article titled, "Soaring with the Eagles".  (I loved this one so much that I scanned it and saved it.  I was looking through an old USB thumb drive the other day and rediscovered it)  The article describes a treatment system in Minnesota that makes me laugh until I nearly cry every time I read it.  It reminds me of those Far Side cartoons that no matter how many times you read it it's still funny as hell.  This one is a classic.

It tells a tale of a 99 lot subdivision served by a peat pod system.  Now I don't know exactly who or what cast the spell over the designer that caused everyone of his/her synapses to fuse into a useless mass of mental slag,  but if I didn't know better I would think this is one of the best Onsite April Fools jokes of all time.

The system is comprised of 320....yes...you heard that correctly 320...plastic peat pods.  This one even beats the textile pod nightmare in Montana that used something like 45 individual plastic fish tank fabric filters. They rig these things together as if they were stringing popcorn to decorate a Christmas tree.  It is one of the dumbest things I have ever seen and is an embarrassment to this industry. I am working on a 109 lot development and the footprint for the system is about 30' x 30' and it is fully accessible all year. 

The peat system is clearly visible from outer space (you can see it on Google Earth) and if there are extraterrestrials watching our development it will surely postpone their planned visit to introduce themselves because from the looks of that system earthlings still have some evolving to do.  The development is listed for sale for about 4 million and not a single home has been built so I guess,on the bright side, 3 years later,  the pods haven't clogged.   I pity the person that buys this monstrosity.  Soaring with the eagles...come on.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Trickling Filter, Packed Bed Reactor, RTF, Fixed Film Bio-Reactor

I will be presenting several technical references related to the treatment mechanism utilized in the Eliminite system.  The first is from WEF Manual of Practice 8.  The section I am posting should answer questions related to the ability of trickling filters to equal or exceed suspended growth processes.  If you click on the image it will be easier to read.
The key to achieving high treatment levels is a thorough understanding of how these types of systems function.  I talk to quite a few people, usually "experts" that tell me RTF systems cannot match the performance of suspended growth systems.  The fact is, our systems can meet suspended growth performance and usually exceed them because the process is inherently more stable and resistant to upsets.  The result is more reliable treatment performance, lower energy consumption, lower O&M costs and lower capital cost.  The next technical post will discuss media size and its relationship to fouling. This should help with decisions related to media selection employed by specific systems.  ie. MetaRocks vs. gravel vs. fish tank filter floss(textile) vs. peat moss vs. foam cubes. 

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Treated wastewater from a cluster system

This is a sample of treated effluent from an Eliminite MBR (MetaRocks Bio Reactor) .  It was tested and found to have less than 1 mg/l ammonia and obviously no TSS.  I spoke with the operator and this system has been producing treated effluent to this degree since it was installed almost four years ago.  He has never had to change, clean, fluff or hose off the fixed film media.  The photo below was taken through the access hatch and lets you see the condition of the MetaRocks.  They are clean and full of large pathways for air movement. A thin bio-film has developed on their polar surface but the main paths or oxygen transfer are available and open.  This means the microorganisms providing the treatment have easy access to fresh air and the MBR will remain aerobic.  Eliminite systems remain aerobic while using much less power than SBR, membrane reactors or other suspended growth systems. This means they cost less to operate and need a lot less babysitting.   

I get frustrated when the "experts" of this industry pound their desks and proclaim with conviction that onsite systems need constant maintenance to function properly.  Maybe the mainstream onsite systems, (Peat, textile, foam cube, aerated septic tanks etc) need constant operation and maintenance hand holding, but Eliminite systems absolutely do not.  I know this concept shatters the perceptions of those in government and academia and it is clear that those people are reluctant to even entertain the possibility that maybe there is a system that is far more robust and stable that the mainstream gadgets.  Apparently they think it better to cling tightly to their opinions and close their eyes to possibilities than to simply admit that they have modified their position based upon this new evidence.  (It reminds me of the controversy that erupted when Copernicus published his theory contradicting current thinking  and stated the the Earth was not the center of the universe).  

 An Eliminite distributor suggested an analogy between Eliminite and some of the other, more well known, systems.  He said Eliminite is like a 20 year old man that eats anything and everything with no concerns for calories, sodium, fat or carbs and still stays thin.  Who stays out late and gets up the next morning ready to go.  Who plays extreme sports, takes a bruising, shakes it off and keeps on playing.  Who has never been sick a day in his life.  The other systems (textile, peat, foam cube,aerated septic tanks) are like a 90 year old man.  He has to watch everything he eats carefully or he will get develop stomach problems.  Who takes a rainbow of different medications every day just to keep going.  Who, if he falls down will have to have his hip pinned.  Who has a history of illness and constantly has one foot in the grave and he other on a banana peel, ready at any second and for the slightest perturbation in his schedule, to give up the ghost.   I think that is an accurate analogy.

The picture on the bottom shows Eliminite effluent compared to bottled drinking water.  It is time, if you are truly looking for a system providing high treatment levels and ease of operation that you investigate Eliminite.   Oh...we cost a lot less and occupy a much smaller area than peat, textile or foam cube systems.  Or I guess maybe it it is heresy to suggest that the earth is NOT at the center of the universe.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A short comparison of advanced wastewater treatment systems

Three main concerns clients express when exploring options for onsite wastewater treatment systems:
  • What is the initial cost?
  • Is the system reliable?
  • What are the O&M Costs?
In reality O&M costs and system reliability are opposite sides of the same coin.   First consider the two main classes of onsite systems: 
  • Fixed film
  • Suspended growth
Fixed film systems include Eliminite, textile filters, peat bogs, sand filters, upholstery foam and others.   Suspended growth systems do not have nearly the wide variety of bright ideas as the fixed film systems and are really just aerated septic tanks.  

If you ask people familiar with the industry you will find that suspended growth onsite systems are notoriously unreliable.  I am not arbitrarily slamming these systems, it is just a fact that when you use an undersized septic tank, dump into it all the liquid, solids and grease and bubble air into the resulting "soup" you are going to have problems.  The only positive aspect of these aerated septic tanks is that they are cheap!   But, once an owner has one of these installed, there is a reasonable probability that the permit limits will never be met.  The unreliability of suspended growth onsite systems has caused many manufacturers to turn towards fixed film systems.

The first Eliminite was installed in early 1994.  At that time most of the advanced onsite systems were suspended growth systems.  There were no textile filters...the main purveyor of these systems was busy selling sand filters.  Foam upholstery cubes were unheard of and most of the peat was still in the bog.  I am being facetious to a degree but you get my point, the industry was dominated by suspended growth systems.  Maybe this is one reason why there was such a huge push in the 1970's and 1980's to sewer everything; it was a well accepted concept that onsite systems simply did not work.

Fixed film systems changed that.  But, what is the most important thing that has to be provided to a fixed film system for it to function?  Well wastewater of course...second most important thing then?....AIR.  If air cannot get to the biofilm, the system is going to have problems, period.  Now think.....Imagine laying on you back and having someone shovel two feet of saturated peat on your face.  Can you breathe?   Probably not, and you have the benefit of a diaphragm muscle expanding your chest cavity to allow air to be forced into your lungs in response to atmospheric pressure.   Microorganisms growing on the surface of the wet peat do not have diaphragm muscles.  How about textiles?  At about 1/2 inch thick these fabric sheets also become saturated with liquid effectively blocking the free diffusion of air to the biofilm.  Eliminite uses our proprietary MetaRocks as the medium to which microorganisms attach.  When dosed with wastewater,  MetaRocks allow the development of a thin liquid film across their surface.  A film sufficiently thin to allow efficient oxygen diffusion into the biofilm.  But that is not all....the size and shape of the MetaRocks allows air to move freely and if we go back to the example of trying to breathe through wet MetaRocks you will see that the large pores allow free air movement.  In fact, even as the biofilm develops on the surface, the pores remain open and available to unhindered passage of air.  This is not the case with the other fixed film media.  Think about it.  Their tiny pore spaces quickly become closed off due to inevitable biofouling.  The only thing to do then is to pull the filter media out and clean it.   MetaRocks do not require cleaning.  So back to the point,O&M.

Do you suppose that maintenance costs will increase if the saturated, dirty media has to be removed and cleaned regularly?  Will the maintenance costs be lower for a system that has already considered the potential for biological fouling?  Why do some systems have such large lids/covers?  These big covers are expensive and a manufacturer would not add them (and their additional cost) unless they were absolutely necessary.  But they are not necessary to get the media IN, they are necessary to get the media OUT for cleaning or replacement.   Eliminite MetaRocks were designed to address and overcome the issue of biological fouling.

Look at the photo of the MetaRocks in the tank (click on it to enlarge the photo) and notice the huge interstitial openings.  These wide open passages allow air to move freely.  They also accommodate a wide range of hydraulic loading meaning the system can handle varying waste strength and flow.  We measured the hydraulic capacity of the media at over 200 gallons per ft^2 per minute.  At that rate flushing (even though I have never seen a situation where it has been necessary) is as easy as opening a valve.

Another really useful feature of MetaRocks is that they are lightweight and free-flowing.  This means that you can build larger systems by using larger tanks.  Think about that for a minute and compare an Eliminite system treating 5000 or 10000 gallons to a peat system or textile filter.   The Eliminite system can be built in one tank, two tanks, you choose.  The peat and textile configurations are only available as a daisy-chain of little toy pods strung together.  Which option sounds easier and less expensive to build and maintain:  a single central treatment plant or a spread out maze of little parts and pieces?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Eliminite Advanced Treatment Systems Produce Superior Results for Less Money

As many of you know, Eliminite was developed in Bozeman, Montana (Oh, and for the record, it is snowing horizontally today in Bozeman).  A unique challenge presented by this fact is that it is cold here and it stays cold for a significant part of the year.  I know it can get just as cold in say, Wisconsin, but the difference and probably more important is the length of the growing season not just the lowest reported temperature.  The growing season is very short in Bozeman....Last year I had a garden full of frozen, green, cold weather tomatoes to prove it....My point is, the climate in Montana provides a harsh proving ground for our onsite systems.  So when I provide data showing our system produce total nitrogen concentrations in the low to mid teens, those systems are in Montana.  If you hunt you can find Montana results for some of the competing systems, for instance, the textile filters average around 30 mg/l total nitrogen(when they are working).  Our results are about two times better and our cost is about half as much as a typical textile system(This means you will be at least 4 times happier with an Eliminite system than a textile system.  Unless of course you already own a textile system...then nothing short of winning the PowerBall Lottery can make you happy!).  The aerated septic tank systems (you know, the ones with blowers and compressors and fans) total nitrogen results are abysmal.  I feel sorry for a homeowner that gets duped into buying one of the aerated septic tank systems thinking that they are going to meet state nitrogen standards.  There will probably be more than a few lawsuits once homeowners become aware of the fact that the stinky, noisy thing in their backyard has never met their septic system permit requirements. (You don't have to take my word for it...just ask around)  But back to my point.   Eliminite has been steadily growing and moving into new areas.  New Mexico is one such area.

We have several system installed in New Mexico and have been receiving nitrogen numbers for those systems.  This is interesting to me because it is really the first time we have installed Eliminite systems is a less severe climate.  (We have quite a few in Colorado but those are in the mountains at 7000 ft and above where it is cold.  The nitrogen numbers from these systems are generally in the low teens with the exception of several of the community systems....these are single digit systems.)  Here are some numbers from a residential system in NM.
3/15/10  TN ~58 mg/l
3/24/10  TN ~40 mg/l
4/16/10  TN ~9.5 mg/l
The numbers improved in response to an operational change I made.  I expect them to improve on the next sampling run. 

Another system in NM reports total nitrogen of about 8 mg/l.  These are real systems serving real homes with real wastewater.  And can you guess how many alarms we have received from them since thay have been installed?  ZERO.  Not one alarm....and no washing of textiles...no fluffing little foam cubes....no shoveling feculent peat, no wood chips to replace.  No "maintenance".  Just Inspections as required by the permit.  Now I know the "experts" scream that onsite systems require perpetual operation and maintenance contracts in order to function (most of them don't function even with the perpetual operation and maintenance contract) but the fact is any system requiring this level of maintenance, such as needing to be connected to a dedicated telephone line 24 hours a day, is simply an unreliable system.  Eliminite is reliable and simple to maintain because it was designed to be that way.  I get the sense that other manufacturers deliberately designed unreliable systems in order to develop an additional cash stream resulting from the maintenance contracts.  It is similar to the cell phone company giving you the cell phone if you sign up for the contract....but that's just my opinion.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Eliminite to provide advanced wastewater treatment for 33 lot development in Ravalli County Montana

This project had been approved by the State with a competing wastewater system but when the time came to start building, the owner decided to tell the competition that he was not going to use the XXXXXXXX but rather, decided to install Eliminite.  The distributor of the XXXXXXXX whined about how he had been involved with the project for several years and now that it was done the developer was cutting him out.  To be fair, the developer did not want to install the USED equipment the distributor quoted and, this is pretty bad, the distributor, in order to get his price down, did not include manufacturer and State required components in his cost estimate.  In other words, it was like he gave a quote for a car but failed to mention that that quote did not include an engine or air bags.  (This is not the first time they have tried to deceive an owner in order to make the sale)

Our quote was fair and, this is cool, about the same cost as the competitors "modified" system.  So, even when they resort to these tactics, they cannot beat our prices or our quality. 

From the data I have available, it looks like Eliminite has overtaken the big competitor in Montana. (Look out Colorado and New Mexico XXXXXXXX dealers because you're next!)  I am pretty sure the tide has turned and engineers, developers and homeowners have realized that we have the best products and the best prices.  Engineers that still specify the other guys equipment are in for a shock when their clients find out about Eliminite.  The developer I mentioned above was pretty upset with his engineers for not calling out Eliminite on their plans.  They may not realize it but this omission has a real backlash effect and will probably hurt their business down the road because when the owner discovers that Eliminite is an alternative to the XXXXXXXX and the engineer did not make the owner aware, Eliminite gets the job and the engineer gets fired.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Septic tanks and politics??

This is a comment from a "concerned citizen" regarding septic tank sizing in Montana (DEQ-4 is a design circular put out by the state):
"DEQ4-2004 uses 2.25 times the design flow, which falls within the EPA recommendation of 2-3 times. If anything, it is low."

What the "concerned citizen" is saying is that if the design flow, which we all know is almost always overstated, is, for instance, 5000 gal/day, then the current corresponding septic tank volume of 11,250 gallons is not sufficient.  The "concerned citizen" suggests that much of the extra volume is required for sludge and scum storage.  This may be true but permit conditions generally require a pumping interval of 3-5 years so there will not be much accumulation anyway.  Design flows for homes in the Circular are so grossly overblown that a 10 lot subdivision on a cluster system could easily wind up with a  12,000 to 15,000 gallon septic tank in front of an advanced treatment unit.  This really makes no sense if one considers the actual expected flow of about 1800 GPD at full buildout and 100% occupancy.  The fact of the matter is, the "concerned citized" is also the distributor of one brand of large fiberglass tank commonly used as a septic tank.  This citizen benefits directly from a regulation that requires other citizens to install larger and larger septic tanks in their communities.  He has, in fact, suggested that a reasonable septic tank volume should be 3 to 4 times the daily design flow.  This number results in a whopper of a tank and probably sends him and his kids on a 3 week vacation to Hawaii!  I happen to think that is disgraceful to lobby for such extreme excesses under the guise of environmental concern when the real goal is much less noble: sell more big tanks.  Lets face it, a bigger septic tank ahead of an advanced treatment unit dosen't do a damn thing extra for the environment beyond what a reasonably sized septic tank will do.  It just costs the people buying it to pay more money.  Furthermore, Montana's DEQ is really part of the problem.  One DEQ employee recently, at a public meeting, scoffed at the notion that she would have any concern for how additional regulations impact the public's ability to pay for the increased infrastructure.  She was saying, in essence,  that she does not care if it costs more to build the system, it is simply not her concern.   I think this is the wrong approach and if the govt is going to impose additional regulations that will result in additional expense, there better be a compelling reason for the new regulation beyond the phony concern for the environment by a "concerned citizen".  But that's just my opinion.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

5000 GPD Eliminite System Serves Church and School

We installed two 620's and a 12,000 gallon precast concrete tank that will serve a church and a school.  I discussed the use of the big precast concrete tank with the engineer and the owners decided to use it instead of the more common and more expensive fiberglass alternative.  These concrete tanks are available in sizes from about 500 gallons to 40,000 gallons and are considerably less expensive to purchase and install than fiberglass tanks largely due to the fact that the bedding and backfill requirements are so much  less stringent.  The combination of Eliminite 620's and precast concrete primary tank saved the owner tens of thousands of dollars over the our competition.So if cost is an issue(and it is ALWAYS an issue), you really need to check out our prices and compare them to the other manufacturers costs.  I am told that we ALWAYS come in less expensive.   We beat the competitions price for a highway rest area wastewater treatment system in Montana by somewhere around $40,000 last week. Obviously we got the job.

Thes concrete tanks arealso great for water storage, fire ponds etc.

If you need a reference, I will be glad to provide one for you.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

None dare call it conspiracy

Taken from KTVM News

Caynon Elementary Will Stay Open for Now

Julie Rogers (03/10/2010)

The Canyon Elementary School in Hungry Horse has one year to hope for a miracle.
The school district faces a half a million dollar shortfall in next year's budget. School board members considered closing the Canyon School. But, they decided to keep it open for at least a year. The board will lay off a part-time principal, cut one and a half teaching positions, and three other jobs.

Even at that, the board thinks the school will likely close, but they'll use this year to prepare.

The new septic system represents 40% of the budget shortfall. 

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

It is a recognition of Eliminite's superiority.

You saw it here first!!!   Our C Series onsite wastewater treatment systems.  We carefully designed them and have been perfecting them for years.  Now I see that our big "competitor" has decided to try to copy the Eliminite system.  HA HA!  An act Desperation?  Engineers, installers, developers, homeowners have been choosing Eliminite over the "big guys" at an incredible rate.  They had to do something to stop the bleeding...so ....the easiest thing to do was to TRY to copy Eliminite.   Thank you guys!  You flatter us.  To think our little company, our detailed designs being scrutinized by such a BIG company not with the intention of building something better...something cheaper...something more reliable.  Couldn't they one-up us? Come up with a better idea than we did? Improve the thing?  At least when Japanese companies copied U.S. auto makers products they tried to improve the product!  If you study it you will see that the copy is actually a pretty bad copy.  A desperate copy.   A cry for help.  The fact is, people are getting sick and tired of their unreliable, high maintenance, overpriced rube goldberg gizmos.  Take a look at the original and see whay it is still the best value in onsite wastewater treatment. 

Here is a quote from General Contractor...I received this in my email yesterday for a 3000 gal/day project. 

"I think I can finally put the issue of which system to use to bed. I’m sure both systems would work but when I look at budget cost Eliminite is much cheaper. Therefore please proceed with the design based on the Eliminite system."

I will provide contact info if you ask.   Oh...I almost forgot...we will be rolling out 6 new models in about a week.  So you "big guys" better stock up on tracing paper!!! HA HA HA!

Monday, February 22, 2010

The names have been changed to protect the guilty

The players:

Designer: M.T. Head

Septic Tank Guy: Robin M. Daily

Business Name: Lee King Tanks

From: M.T Head

To: Tom

Subject: RE:


Got a call from Robin M. Daily at Lee King Tanks and he said he had talked to John Q. Public Servant at

XXXX County and John Q Public Servant told him that Eliminite would be acceptable.

Robin M. Daily called me and wanted to make sure that the bid is apples to apples, so I think we should leave

the location and size for the piping, septic tank and treatment tank locations where they are on the plans.

Otherwise, there could be some complaints about unequal treatment by allowing a complete redesign.

M.T. Head
Now what does this mean you ask?  Well, the deal had already been struck between M.T. Head and Robin M. Daily to use Lee King Tanks and Equipment.  We were not given an opportunity to provide a quote for the job.  When I complained, Robin M. Daily called John Q. Public Servant and tried to get the govt. official to disallow us from bidding the project.  When John Q. Public Servant told Robin M. Daily that we were an acceptable alternative, Robin M. Daily contacted the designer, M.T. Head, and strong-armed him into forcing us to bid the system with the same components being supplied by Lee King Tanks and Equipment.  This would be like saying, Ford can bid the job but they have to bid it with GM engines.  The result was we were forced to provide an unrealistic price and the client got the shaft delivered to their front yard by their neighbors, M.T Head and Robin M. Daily.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

A comment about the school

Normally comments are buried below the post but this one was so well thought out that I want to post it right on the front page where everyone can bask in its wisdom and perspicacity.
Anonymous said...

I think you need to pay attention to budget rules which the school district is tied to. Capital projects are a separate line item from operations (day-to-day expenses), the latter one they are REQUIRED by law to balance. So even if they had kept the money from the sale of Coram school in a bank account, they would not have been able to use it for expenses. The FACTS are the school has died from it's own lack of use and population shifts. Get over it or do something about it financially.

In spite of my earlier wisecrack, I will give the author of the comment some latitude to make uninformed statements. Once.   If the school "died from it's own lack of use" why was the septic system designed and built to accommodate a much larger population than is indicated by current use or growth projections.  Look at it this way, the current population at the school may generate 1500 gallons of wastewater per day, and this would be a big day.  Why, if the school was dying, was the septic system designed for nearly 5000 gallons of wastewater per day?  Why was a 15,000 gallon septic tank used for such a tiny flow?  Why were 3, 2500 gallon recirculation tanks used? Why was it necessary to install a 3000 gallon dose tank? Why was a septic system for a school showing a decline in population designed as if the student population was swelling faster than a tick on a lazy dog? 
As I said earlier, I have some interesting e-mail messages that will help explain why the system was so grossly overdesigned and why it came in for at least twice the budgeted amount.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Now why would I be posting a story like this?

Canyon Elementary appears to have earned a reprieve, at least for one year.

The School District 6 board took a first look at a new plan that would cut staff at the Hungry Horse school, but allow it to remain open next year.

"With this plan and other cuts I'm looking at we could maintain our current status," Superintendent Mike Nicosia told the board Monday.
Teaching and staff positions would be cut at the school.
I have some interesting information regarding the Canyon Elementary School that will help illuminate recent machinations that I am sure several individuals would rather keep in the dark.    This school is facing a serious budget shortfall contributed to, in part, by the expense of a new septic system that was recently installed. 
I will be posting several e-mail messages that will help explain things and describe what exactly happened.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Update for Colorado Onsite Wastewater Treatment

As many of you know, we have been installing Eliminite systems in Colorado since the 1990's.  During this time our popularity has grown and we have experienced greater recognition and presence in the Colorado onsite industry.  I strongly recommend that Engineers consider Eliminite for their projects for several reasons including lower initial cost, less invasive maintenance procedures, lower maintenance cost and less visual impact.  You will make real points with your clients when you show them how you saved thousands of dollars over competing systems by specifying Eliminite.  Also, people do not really want to see all those parts, pieces, covers, vents and components common to the other guys system.  We designed Eliminite to be more reliable and more visually appealing.  Our approval by CDPHE as an advanced treatment system means we have earned the highest treatment approval and are therefore equivalent, in a regulatory sense, to other advanced treatment systems in Colorado.  I am sure you will be glad you checked into Eliminite and I know your clients will appreciate your resourcefulness in saving them money and headaches.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Switching to Eliminite in Montana

Many of our Montana customers had property that was previously approved with a competing wastewater treatment system but decided that it was in their best interest to switch the system shown on their plans to Eliminite. Quite a few of these owners were told by the distributors of the competing systems that they had no other option and were required to install the system as shown on the plans. This is not true. In fact, the process is really quite simple. In many Montana Counties all that is required is that the swap be noted on the "As-Built" drawings. In other words, no advance permitting is required at all and the owner is free to select Eliminite in place of the other units. I will be posting a list of counties where this rule applies. In the other counties, MDEQ has implemented a simple procedure for completing the swap. I have done this for many clients and it only involves a short application, lot layout sketch, and administrative fee of about $200.00. The process takes 10 days or less. MDEQ decided to streamline the process for making the switch because so many people want to install a different wastewater treatment unit than the one their engineers decided to show on the plans. So what does this mean to you?

Everyone is looking to save some money these days and Eliminite will provide relief from other high priced Level 2 systems. You benefit from our local manufacture and use of local materials. If you are planning to install a system we can almost always save you money. In fact, even on single family residential applications, Eliminite can save you several thousand dollars over our competition. We also give you the option of selecting your own installation contractor and O&M provider. This means you will not be held hostage by a manufacturer to use their installer and pay their maintenance prices.

If you are an engineer, your clients will appreciate your effort to save them money and provide their clients with more choice. Plus, the people who buy lots in the communities you are designing will like the smaller, less obtrusive footprint of Eliminite as well as our less invasive maintenance procedures.

I also must tell you that this procedure works both ways; you may also swap an Eliminite for a competing system in the same manner I discussed above. Honestly, this almost never happens because when people compare advanced treatment systems they will almost always choose to go with Eliminite because we offer the end user so many more advantages, features and significantly lower cost.

Monday, January 18, 2010

This goes in the "I told you so" file

I have taken an excerpt from this newspaper article.  This is what I mean about the decentralized field....so much of it looks like a joke.  And, while the story below is amusing, it represents a real problem in this industry.  When you finish reading, give me a call and I can tell you why stupid problems like the one below do not occur with Eliminite. 

But, Kennedy's real concern is that his failed non-conventional septic system left him with about seven tons of toxic peat moss.

Peat moss is used as a natural filter in some non-conventional septic systems, Burton said. In Kennedy's case, the peat moss became saturated with waste, causing his septic system to fail and the peat moss to develop pathogens. Kennedy was instructed to shut off his septic system and remove the seven tons of toxic peat moss from the property; however, LCSA, waste management or the health department is not equipped to dispose of the pathogenic material.

Until Kennedy finds a disposal location-he mentioned a site in North Carolina-that will accept his dump-truckload of toxic peat moss, he has to pay $350 every few weeks to pump and haul the sewage and effluent off his property. Since June, Kennedy said he has spent close to $2,000.

"I'm really interested in getting rid of this stuff, and getting my system to where it needs to be, but I can't seem to go anywhere with it," he said during Monday's meeting.

The way to neutralize the contaminated peat moss, Chief of Environmental Health Alan Brewer said Monday, is to spread it across a parcel of land, treat it with lime and let it "bake" in the sun for a period of time. Supervisor Jim Burton (I-Blue Ridge) suggested LCSA attempt such treatment, but Supervisor Bruce Tulloch (R-Potomac) said Loudouners wouldn't tolerate the smell.
"If treated with lime, it won't smell," Burton said.
"Then let's use your front lawn," Tulloch countered.