Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Montana's highway rest areas are more picturesque than other states resorts!

They have better wastewater treatment systems also. 

Eliminite has been selected as provider of all wastewater treatment facilities for Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) highway rest areas and other facilities.  Through its process, in conjunction with the Federal Highway Administration, MDT determined that it is in the best interest of the public for Eliminite to provide wastewater treatment systems for all its facilities. The systems are compact, reliable and specifically designed to treat the high nitrogen wastewater (ammonia =180 - 250 mg/L) common to highway rest areas. 

(The prime engineers on this project refused to collect actual wastewater influent samples and instead, guessed at the BOD and TN values.  They are not good guessers, Actual BOD Influent averages about 1200 mg/L.  Actual TN Influent averages about 450 mg/L)
The foot print of the entire treatment system is about 20' x 40' and uses all locallly supplied precast concrete tanks.  That makes good sense for our local economy because area suppliers can provide equipment rather than shipping money out of state to import equipment from out of state, or country, suppliers. 

We can do this in any location using locally available tanks, and components because the design of the system is flexible and can be modified to accommodate almost any tank configuration.  This not only provides a boost to the local guys but also results in significantly lower overall cost.  As you all know, "pod" type systems must be shipped in from somewhere.

This system was started and sampled in the dead of winter and is already achieving about 98 % conversion of ammonia to nitrate.  No alarms, no malfunctions, no phone dialer.  The average mean temp was around 20 degrees F for the operational period.

You can check out  the pressurized drainfield at

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Is NSF certification anything more than a "Pay to Play scheme"?

I am sure many of you have asked the same question.  How often do we hear of NSF certified systems that fail to meet even the most magnanimous state standards?  The game is interesting, states develop standards for say, nitrogen, which, I have to assume are based upon some need for a nitrogen standard.  They don't pull these things out of they?    Onsite systems are then supposedly required to comply with the standards.  This seems to be true unless the system has an NSF certification.  Once the system is approved by the state, the certification trumps any actual field data however consistently bad it is.  I was told by one regulator that once the system is in the state with NSF, it is nearly impossible to get them out due to the threat of lawsuits by the aggrieved manufacturer.  This means that while the system is "certified" on paper to meet the standard, the actual data show something different that the regulatory community can not or will not correct. 

NSF, from what I have heard uses municipal wastewater that has been through a primary sedimentation process.  This sounds like "normal' residential wastewater, don't you think? 

The lowest flow certification is for 500 gal/day.  Any person that knows anything about this field knows that homes NEVER produce this much wastewater unless something in the home is broken.  If your state standards say they do, your standards are wrong.  Seriously, we are talking about potty breaks, showers and laundry not Blue Fin Tuna farming. Oh....Do Americans really still have "laundry day"?  I suppose so but only if the laundry is done at the local laundromat.  Right?  Think about it.

Why would "laundry day" matter?  I suppose if the system happens to be a Failure -prone Aerated Septic Tank, the worry would be washout. (although, since those things don't work anyway they might as well be clean and meadow fresh)  If we are talking about the systems using filter fabric the concern is hydraulic overload and biological clogging of the fabric. 
So I take a look at this system, call it brand x, and review its sample data from a single family home producing around 150-200 gal/day and can see that it doesn't have a prayer of meeting the 245 standard of 50% removal it reportedly received while treating 500 gal/day in the NSF program.  What is the real story here?   

Just for fun I have pasted sample data from an NSF certified system (in red below) and sample data from a non-NSF certified Eliminite 120C (in green) collected during the same third party test. Remember this is ACTUAL data collected by a state funded third party.  The NSF system is listed, for instance,  as Best Available Technology (BAT) In Maryland.  Really, Best??

Eliminite 120 C Standard Model
Date          TN
7/10/2009 11.928

7/17/2009 6.475

7/24/2009 5.171

7/31/2009 4.740

8/7/2009 4.677

8/14/2009 5.084

8/21/2009 8.685

8/31/2009 3.639

9/4/2009 10.224

9/11/2009 8.345

9/18/2009 9.213

9/30/2009 4.568

10/9/2009 6.580

10/16/2009 7.120

10/23/2009 3.520

10/30/2009 11.345

3/25/2010 11.475

4/16/2010 13.460

4/29/2010 6.370

4/30/2010 11.280

5/4/2010 9.680

5/11/2010 10.111

5/18/2010 7.870

5/25/2010 3.430

6/1/2001 4.560

6/8/2010 4.670

6/15/2010 5.375

NSF 245 Certified System
Date            TN
7/10/2009 33.541

7/17/2009 60.700

7/24/2009 85.064

7/31/2009 69.130

8/7/2009 46.800

8/14/2009 34.991

8/21/2009 40.183

8/31/2009 56.636

9/4/2009 51.200

9/11/2009 66.248

9/18/2009 56.500

9/30/2009 67.000

10/9/2009 40.100

10/16/2009 34.700

10/23/2009 33.270

10/30/2009 21.338

3/25/2010 35.100

4/16/2010 69.200

4/29/2010 78.200

4/30/2010 84.800

5/4/2010 67.230

5/11/2010 35.700

5/18/2010 34.900

5/25/2010 66.783

6/1/2001 54.321

6/8/2010 33.760

6/15/2010 67.000