Sunday, September 25, 2011

Wastewater sampling

Justin Buchanan and I went on a maintenance run recently and inspected 7 Eliminite systems in about 2 hours.  The reason we can do so many inspections in such a short time is because there is usually nothing for us to do other than collect a sample and look at the system.  We read the counter numbers from the panel, open the lids, inspect the MetaRocks, pull a sample, do a quick flush on the drainfield and move to the next system.  I cannot imagine arriving at the site and needing to remove feculent, septic saturated sheets to hose off or having to travel with a foam cube fluffer to loosen up saturated little foam meatballs. 

Every system we inspected was producing wastewater that looked like the sample shown in the picture.  Clear, odor-free and well below Montana's nitrogen limit of 24 mg/L.

I spoke with a government relations coordinator (Lobbyist) who works for a big manufacturer of onsite systems.  Apparently, this company was very interested in the New Mexico study in which we participated.  Our average total nitrogen for the duration of the study was about 7 mg/L.  The PhD lobbyist took a stab at explaining the fundamentals of biological nitrification and denitrification to me because, in his experience, onsite systems cannot achieve such stellar numbers.    He reasoned that our impressive results were probably due to "one little old lady wearing Depends," living in the house.  He actually said that!  I tried to explain to him that the people living in the home work from home and conduct business in their home.  The installer informed me that Eliminite was chosen for that home because the people entertain regularly and he felt other systems would not be able to treat the flow from the house. 

I have to admit his comment took me by surprise and it seems offensive of several levels.  But, I guess it explains why, in his experience, onsite systems cannot acheive impressive numbers.  In fact, it seems obvious that, considering his comment, their systems never produce results comparable to Eliminite, unless the system is not being used, of course.

Maybe the next set of requirements this company will include in their warranty, after the prohibition on using house-hold cleaners and antibacterial soap, will be that everyone in the residence needs to wear Depends undergarments when they are home.  That might help their numbers but can you imagine the new inspection procedures?

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Last Blog Post is Creating Quite a Commotion

The previous post on highway rest areas sure has generated a lot of interest.  I have experimented with my posts and find that educational posts such as:

Just don't generate as much interest as my slightly more sarcastic posts:

And the recent post on highway rest areas has really brought the little critters out of the wood work.  Keep in mind that the information I post is all readily available to the public, you might have to dig a little but it's there.

Case in point,  I was poking around and came across a newspaper story about a tiny town in New Mexico.  Some genius decided there were wastewater problems and the town was required to build a new wastewater treatment system.  It is comprised of several clustered treatment systems scattered around the town. 

The article was very interesting and recently I visited this small town and looked at what had been installed.   I took photos and drove around, visiting each little cluster system.

Now, maybe I'm no expert but I know stink when I smell it, and these things were stinky. This is really too bad because it would not be too much of a stretch to assume that the system cost was pretty close to the entire value of the property it served.  In other words, if you took the cost of the wastewater treatment system, in cash, you could probably buy all the property the system was designed to serve.  Now this might be a bit of an exaggeration, but if you saw the place, you might agree with me. 

My understanding from the newspaper article is that the system was not meeting its discharge limits and everybody involved was pulling their hair out about it.  The town had the engineer there, the distributor, the manufacturer, and they simply could not get it/them into compliance. 

The interesting thing in the article was that the manufacturer was blaming the installer, the operator, the town, anyone they could name in an attempt to shift responsibility somewhere other than where it rightfully belonged...right in the manufacturers lap. 

Ultimately I heard that they pretty much stopped sampling it so nobody really knows what's going on, but it sounds like it/they are still non-compliant.

I was happy to pull into the RV park in New Mexico that is being served with an Eliminite and see every space full and utilizing the treatment system to its capacity.  I opened the lids, no odor.  The owner said there is never any odor.  The treated RV wastewater was clear, and odor free and the BOD5 had recently been reported at 18.9 mg/L and Total Nitrogen was 13.7 mg/L.

I was just visiting and was not called there to fix something that was broken.  There was no conflict and the owner was so happy with the system that he let Amanda and me, and our three pets, stay in one of his resort cabins at a reduced rate.  This is a big difference with Eliminite compared to other systems, we care about our products and, as a result, the systems work.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Highway Rest Area Here are the Results

A few days ago I posted the photo below of a wastewater sample taken from one of our highway rest area on site wastewater treatment systems.  The lab sent me the sample results.

cBOD: 4.0 mg/L
Ammonia: 2.4 mg/L
TSS: Not Detected
E. coli: Not Detected
Nitrate +Nitrite: 31.8 mg/
Organic Nitrogen:  20.9 mg/L

The system is set up to add carbon and alkalinity but these results are from one of our standard systems with no carbon addition and no alkalinity addition.  Influent strength at these rest areas is
BOD ~1200 mg/L
Nitrogen~450 mg/l

This means a standard eliminite system, treating very high strength wastewater, is achieving about 85% removal of nitrogen and about a 97% removal of BOD.   The permit for this system requires 60% removal of nitrogen.   Because the system is so far below permit limits, the Department of Transportation may not need to add the carbon source.  If the carbon source were to be added, it would take about 3 hours to have everything set up and dialed in.  I am obviously not using wood chips for denitrification because if I were, we would have to have excavators out to the jobsite to install the wood chip tanks, and plumbers to connect the piping.  Sorry guys, I just think wood chips are a bad idea considering that many Eliminite systems, in standard configuration, already produce Total Nitrogen results in single digits for a lot less money.

So for a system operating in a remote location on an Interstate highway experiencing no malfunctions or alarms, it is doing pretty well.  It has not required any maintenance time other than sample collection.

I was at a similar highway rest area in Colorado that had another manufacturers system for wastewater treatment.  It discharges directly into the River.  I learned that the system does not always meet a 50 mg/L ammonia standard and routinely exceeds this generous standard resulting in the discharge of  wastewater directly into the River.  I feel sorry for the rafters and Kayakers!!  You all better watch out for the "Brown" trout.

I understand the Colorado system has been out of compliance for a long time.  The manufacturer has been out there with the engineer and distributor and nobody can seem to get the thing into compliance (Not even the people who designed, built and installed it) I know of one sample set where the total nitrogen was over 150 mg/L.  The Colorado DOT would apparently rather ignore the system than get it fixed ,even though it continues to pollute the River. (Maybe, because it continues to pollute the  River) This must be the benefit to a company that employs full time lobbyists in an effort to have its way with state and local regulations. 

What it really is, is further evidence that pod type systems simply cannot match the treatment results of Eliminite Advanced On Site Wastewater Treatment Systems.  

Oh...and,  "Eliminite is Lobbyist Free Since '93!"