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The Water Goddess

Not long after the fun outlined in Parts I and II of this tale, my wife held her first class in the master bedroom that we had converted into a classroom. It was a Five Day Interior Re-Design class held for about seven students, all ladies.

Things were going very well until day three, when the toilets backed up.

The residence is still on the septic system that was installed when the house was built. Going to the clean-out plug nearest to the septic tank I determined that the plug was at or near the entrance to the septic tank.

Off I jet to Loews to get a long drain snake.

After returning I spent the next half-hour or so trying to clear the plug, with no success. Since we have to have the system working for the class, I finally relent and call a plumber to roto-root the system.

Several hours and several hundred dollars later ( it was after hours ), the plug is cleared, and the explanation given: Apparently there was a grease plug building up right at the entrance to the septic tank, and one of the ladies apparently flushed a monthly female necessity down the toilet, finishing up the plug.

The very next day, there were little signs next to all of the toilets asking the women to please not flush anything down the toilet, other than paper, and providing little disposal bags to accommodate everything else.


The Body’s Internal Septic System

Bugs and bacteria in the intestinal system break down the waste product that is passing through the body. At each stage of the process when the waste product is broken down sufficiently it then passes to the next part of the body’s digestive tract. This has the food moving from stomach to small intestine, large intestine and out through the back end. If the bugs are incorrect then the waste either passes to quickly (diarrhea) or too slowly (constipation). It may also cause You have a sewer system in your body and it needs to work properly for you to be healthy. It is not the nicest analogy; however that is exactly what is happening inside of you.

If you have ever lived in the country, where the toilet system uses a septic tank buried in the ground out side the bath room window you may have had the unpleasant experience of having to work on it.

How it works is the sewerage goes into a big tank in the ground. The tank has lots of bacteria inside which live off the waste products coming in. They break everything down and the remaining water flows out an outlet pipe into a special drain system in the ground.

The body works much the same way. Bugs and bacteria in the intestinal system break down the waste product that is passing through the body. At each stage of the process when the waste product is broken down sufficiently it then passes to the next part of the body’s digestive tract. This has the food moving from stomach to small intestine, large intestine and out through the back end. If the bugs are incorrect then the waste either passes to quickly (diarrhea) or too slowly (constipation). It may also cause other problems along the way.

It is very important to make sure that the right bacteria are present in your digestive track. This helps with the digestion process of food. The correct bacteria in the right quantities help control diarrhea, yeast infections, constipation and many other gut related problems.


Septic Tank Maintenance Tips


Conserve water. Fix leaks and drips. If you replace old fixtures, install new "low flow" types.

Do not overload the system -- this is the primary cause of system failures. Early morning and bedtime are peak water use times in the bathroom. Run dishwashers and washing machines at other times of the day. Don't do all the family laundry in one day.

Do not use a garbage disposal or dump coffee grounds in the sink. Increasing the load of solids into the tank decreases the capacity and shortens the interval between pumpings.

Do not pour fats and oils down the drain. They can build up and clog the septic tank pipes.

Put paper towels, tissue, cigarette butts, disposable diapers, sanitary napkins, tampons and other material in a trash can, not the toilet.

Use normal amounts of detergents, bleaches, drain cleaners, household cleaners and other products. Avoid dumping solvents like dry cleaning fluid, pesticides, photographic chemicals, paint thinner, or auto products down the drain.


Direct down spouts and runoff away from the septic field to avoid saturating the area with excess water.

Dense grass cover and other shallow rooted plants are beneficial over a septic field. However, do not plant trees because large plant roots can clog or break the pipes.

Avoid compacting the soil over the infiltration area. Do not drive or park vehicles over the area and don't build a shed or driveway in this area. These activities can also crack pipes or cause the distribution box to settle unevenly, meaning that effluent will only flow into part of the drain field.


Septic Odors Inside the House

Many people have asked about a problem with a sewage odor inside their house. Usually this odor emanates from a dry drain.  Each drain in your house has a trap associated with it. The trap is the U-shaped pipe you see under your kitchen sink. See diagram below.

The purpose of this pipe is to keep the gases from your septic system from being able to come back inside the house. The trap works because water sits in that U-shaped section of pipe, and therefore the gases can't get back up through the drain.

However, if the water in that trap should ever dry up, then the gases are able to escape. The water evaporates out of these traps if they aren't used for a period of time. Usually it's an unused guest bathroom, or basement shower stall, or some fixture that just isn't used very regularly.

The solution of course is very simple: Add water to the drain.




Septic Odors Outside the House

Usually this odor emanates from the vent stack on the roof.  Each drain in your house has a vent stack associated with it. The vent stack is the small pipe(s) you see sticking out of your roof. These pipes are designed to vent the gases from the septic system out through the roof. They also help with the drainage of wastewater through the plumbing system, keeping air-locks from forming.

Depending on where the vent pipe comes out of the roof, the height of the pipe, the height and shape of the roof, and the direction and speed of wind, the gases could wind up back down on your patio due to a downdraft.

This problem can be alleviated by extending the height of the vent stack, or placing a charcoal filter over the top of the stack.




Hiring a Good Septic System Inspector

You want to hire an inspector that says he or she will locate and unearth each and every component of your septic system and inspect it. You do NOT want an inspector that comes out and merely walks around, or, simply flushes a dye pack down the toilet. This is not an inspection, and it will not tell you the system is functioning properly or what needs attention.  

While doing the inspection, a good inspector will run water into the tank from the house, like through a bathtub faucet. The inspector should look into each opening of the septic tank, making sure the baffles are OK, the tank is not showing signs of backup and failure, and measure the depth of the scum layer and sludge layer.

A good inspector will also locate and open up the distribution box, and inspect it to ensure each tile line is receiving the same amount of effluent, and all are draining properly. This inspection will also show if solids have been allowed to escape the tank. (An early warning sign of possible failure down the road.) Looking into the distribution box is probably the most telling part of the inspection process.

Lastly, a good inspector will dig down into the drain lines and make sure they look good. 

This type of thorough inspection will cost you more money than the bogus walk about inspections, but it will be money well spent. If you are purchasing a home on a septic system, this thorough inspection will alert you to possible huge expenses that could be incurred if the system is failing. Better to negotiate this up front! 

So be sure to interview inspectors on the phone to find out if they will locate and inspect each component. If you find several who promise to do those things, then it's a matter of price, and timing. BE PRESENT when the inspection is done!


How Close Can I Plant Trees?

The rule of thumb is that a tree's roots are as wide as the tree's canopy (branch spread). But this doesn't account for all species of trees, or the depth of the roots. When it comes to a septic system, it is best to only have grass planted above and around the system. Shallow rooted plants (ask your local Cooperative Extension expert or the Nursery employees), small shrubs, and flowers usually can be safely planted near and above the system. But trees really should be avoided. A weeping willow tree, or other species that really have a massive root system should NEVER be planted ANYWHERE near a septic system!




Septic Tank Basics & Septic Systems


Septic tank systems are the standard method for disposal of human wastewater in many suburban and rural areas. The simplest type of septic system, invented before the septic tank, is called a cess pit or cess pool and consists of a pit in the ground into which sewage is dumped. Some percentage of the solids are digested in the cess pit, and the remaining fluid seeps out into the ground.


A more modern disposal system is a septic tank with leach field (leech field). In a common septic-tank configuration, a home's toilets, sinks and showers are piped to a buried concrete, fiberglass or polyethylene tank. A discharge pipe leads away from the septic tank to a buried perforated pipe or network of pipes, known as a leach field or leech field. Pipe elevations are such that the septic tank remains almost full at all times, which permits bacteria to "digest" virtually all the solids that enter the tank. The remaining liquid is dispersed into the soil through the perforated pipes.


The most common failure mode for septic systems is that the soil around the leach field becomes impervious (clogged) to the flow of water. When this happens, the water level in the septic tank increases and plumbing fixtures in the house refuse to drain properly (sewage backs up).


A variety of chemicals containing microbes, acids and enzymes are sold that attempt to open up the soil pores in the leach field and get the septic tank system working again.


Chemicals and mechanical methods can be used as a Do It Yourself method to keep your septic tank working. If they prove inadequate you may need to call in a professional to evaluate the situation.


Septic Tank systems will stop up if they do not receive proper maintenance and cleaning




3 Tips For Maintaining Your Septic System

A septic tank wastewater system can contaminate ground water, surface water and your yard with nutrients, bacteria and viruses if it isn't maintained properly and pumped often enough. By following these, you can help ensure that your system continues to function properly, safely and without septic odors.

1. Do not divert roof drains or basement sump pumps into septic systems. You want to drain as little water into them as possible.

2. Avoid or reduce the use of your garbage disposal. If you use a garbage disposal, have the tank pumped more frequently.

3. Don't use your toilet as a garbage can! If you put lots of stuff down the toilet, you will need to have the tank pumped more often.


Septic System Overview For The New Homeowner

If you're a city dweller who is looking for a home in the suburbs, it's likely that you're looking at homes with septic for the first time. This situation tends to make buyers nervous. It needn't.

Let's take an overview of what a simple septic system is, how it's maintained, and what you can do if you're buying a home that uses one. A septic system is a self-contained system for disposing of sewerage. They're frequently found in rural and suburban areas that do not have public sewerage systems. The system one sees most often is a holding tank in which enzyme and bacterial action decomposes the waste material and buried lines in a drainage field use soil to strain out what remains.

Septic permits are usually issued specifying the number of bedrooms a house may have that is to be built on the lot for which the permit is being issued. How well the soil percolates (how well water drains through the soil) on the lot is taken into account when issuing the permit. It typically costs between $6,000 and $10,000 to install a conventional system in the part of the country I live in. Systems are usually adequate for the size of the house because of the permit system.

When a system and the demands of a household are in balance, it can be literally years between times any maintenance is needed. Some jurisdictions require that they be pumped periodically. There are companies which make a specialty of this. In my area it costs about $200 to have a septic tank pumped.

Home Buyer Precautions

There are a number of things a homebuyer can do when buying a home with a septic system to minimize the possibility of having a problem. You can make your contract offer subject to a septic inspection and pumping. You can ask the seller to sign an affidavit stating that to the best of his knowledge the permit was issued for the number of bedrooms the home has, or, alternatively, you can check at the courthouse yourself. Just call and ask what department handles the permits, then call that department and ask about archived information.

Water should not stand for hours after a heavy rain on property with a septic system. There should never be any unpleasant odor associated with a septic system.


Sand Filter Basics

As EPA's Technology Assessment of Intermittent Sand Filters states: "Intermittent sand filtration of wastewater is not a new technology." [1] It has been reported that various forms of sand filtration have been used to purify water for centuries. [2] The modern concept of intermittent sand filtration derived from observations made in the mid-1800's at "sewage farms" in sandy soils. The drainage from these areas, onto which wastewater was intermittently dosed, was greatly purified. This led to using sand beds especially constructed for wastewater treatment. [3]

Over the last 100+ years, a vast amount of information on intermittent sand filter technology has been produced. [e.g., refs. 1,4-9] More recently, the intermittent sand filter process has been studied and used for addressing the problems of on-site and small-scale wastewater management. [e.g., refs. 10-16] These experiences have shown that, again quoting EPA's sand filter assessment: "Intermittent sand filters are ... ideally suited to rural communities, small clusters of homes, individual residences and business establishments. They can achieve advanced secondary or even tertiary levels of treatment consistently with a minimum of attention." [1]

It is precisely because sand filters operate reliably in such a trouble-free manner that this treatment device is especially well suited for on-site wastewater systems. The basic technology is very "fail-safe". Generic classification of this system is "attached growth aerobic process". The intermittent sand filter is a very lightly loaded version of that process, so mean cell residence time is very long. Also, the biology of the system is quite diverse, typically including many trophic levels of microorganisms and some macroorganisms as well. [8,9] These characteristics render the process inherently resistant to upsets.

The major failure mode is clogging of the bed. When this proceeds too far, it forms a barrier to passage of any more wastewater, so the consequence of failure is that water backs up in the system, which usually forces attention to the problem. Even when clogging has proceeded to the point where water is continuously ponded on the bed surface between doses--a condition of extreme neglect of proper maintenance--the effluent quality typically does not degrade significantly. Many studies have demonstrated that a sufficient remedy for bed clogging is scraping off the top inch or so of sand. [1,4,6,11,17] The reported intervals between scrapings have ranged from 4 to more than 54 months. [1,17] This indicates that the problem builds up slowly over a period of months, or even years, so maintenance can be conducted essentially at the operator's leisure.

This contrasts sharply with the "aerobic" systems often touted for on-site wastewater management. These systems use some variant of the activated sludge process. Treatment in those processes is affected by few trophic levels of aerobic organisms living in concentrations far in excess of those found anywhere in nature. So the process is inherently unstable, requiring constant inputs of energy and close attention to maintaining proper operating parameters in an effort to keep the process on track. Also, the consequence of any process failure is passage of poorly treated effluent in short order, since there is typically no physical barrier to passage of water through the system. Once "off track", it often takes considerable time for an activated sludge process to recover.

These contrasting characteristics dictate that the intermittent sand filter is technically far better suited than aerobic systems for use in the on-site environment. To enhance the cost efficiency of this technology--and thus promote their broader use--"advanced" design concepts need to be proliferated. These concepts provide the additional advantage of considerable reduction in effluent nitrogen concentration. This paper reviews the basis for advanced design concepts and provides insights for practical system design.


If the sand filter bed must be serviced with any frequency, the bed must be accessible. Given the low design loading rates (generally less than 3 gal/ft2/day) usually quoted for on-site system filter beds, a large bed would be required for a typical single family home. Cost efficiently covering a large bed to preclude odor problems or contact with the wastewater is problematic. Because of this, buried sand filters which must be loaded at very low rates (around 1 gal/ft2/day) are often used.

However, both the allowable hydraulic loading rate and the frequency of sand bed servicing are subject to design and operating conditions. Significant parameters include media size, loading frequency, loading method, and influent quality.

The latter appears to be especially significant. Some references state that, to preclude premature clogging, it is expected that organic loading rates should be limited to less than 0.005 lb. BOD5/ft2/day. [1] It was stated in early studies of the intermittent sand filter that "... the volume of sewage that can be purified ... is dependent upon the amount of organic matter present in the wastewater rather than the volume of wastewater in which this organic material is held." [1] However, EPA observes: "Allowable [hydraulic] loading rates increase with the degree of pretreatment. A strict relationship establishing an organic loading rate ... has not yet been clearly defined in the literature." [17]

Many investigations have demonstrated that, with proper system design, hydraulic loading rates much higher than those generally assumed can be accommodated without requiring frequent maintenance. This would allow a filter bed sized for a home to be cost efficiently contained within a buried tank, allowing it to operate like an open access sand filter while precluding odor and public health problems.

The original concept of intermittent sand filter operation was to utilize rather fine media--in the range of 0.2 to 0.4 mm effective size--and to load the entire daily dose at one time, allowing it to drain and rest until the following day. [4,6,17] In studies conducted at the University of Florida in the 1940's and 50's, it was noted that, all other factors remaining equal, splitting the daily load into two doses increased removal efficiencies and allowed sands of a given size to be loaded more heavily. [6]

This finding led to further investigations of more frequent loadings. The conclusion of these studies was that, even without improving the influent quality before application to the sand filter, more frequent loadings can allow higher loading rates to be readily accommodated with no degradation in treatment and without premature clogging of the filter. In fact, for filters employing larger media, treatment actually improved with more frequent loadings even when higher hydraulic loading rates were applied.

A filter with an effective sand size of 1.04 mm demonstrated a 96% BOD5 removal efficiency when loaded at 13.8 gal/ft2/day and dosed hourly, while at loading rates ranging from 4.02 to 9.76 gal/ft2/day, removal efficiency was generally in the range of 70-80% when the filter was only loaded twice per day. During the period when the filter was dosed hourly, average organic loading rate was 0.0119 lb./ft2/day, and it was above 0.005 lb/ft2/day at all loading rates except 4.02 gal/ft2/day. Two other filters, with sands of 0.44 mm and 0.46 mm effective size, demonstrated BOD5 removal efficiencies ranging from 80% to 93% when loaded twice per day at rates from 2.87 to 7.46 gal/ft2/day. With 4 loadings per day at a rate of 6.89 gal/ft2/day, removal efficiencies were elevated to 95-97%. Here again, when hydraulic loading rates were at or above 6.89 gal/ft2/day, organic loading rates were generally above the 0.005 lb./ft2/day "limit". [5]

Scherer and Mitchell [14] studied a "stratified" sand filter, consisting of three sand layers with effective sizes of 0.52 mm, 0.27 mm, and 0.17 mm, from top to bottom, respectively. The filter was loaded with septic tank effluent at a rate of 6.3 gal/ft2/day. Mean influent BOD5 was 101 mg/l--implying an average organic loading rate of 0.0053 lb./ft2/day--and mean influent TSS was 59 mg/l. The effluent averaged <1 mg/l of both BOD5 and TSS, representing 99+% removal. Clogging was not reported to be a problem over the year that the project was operated. Apparently the coarser top layer "pre-strains" the wastewater, protecting the very fine lower layers from clogging at higher loading rates.

Mitchell [10] demonstrated the ability of sand filters to accommodate elevated loading rates when the influent is septic tank effluent which has been upgraded by passing it through an anaerobic upflow filter. Four sand filters, each containing media of 0.52 mm effective size, were loaded at rates of 1.5, 3, 9 and 15 gal/ft2/day. Loading frequency was not reported. Filter influent averaged 85 mg/l of BOD5, and the effluent from all four filters was below 5 mg/l throughout the 6-month study period, which implies over 94% removal. At 15 gal/ft2/day, the average organic loading rate was 0.0106 lb./ft2/day. While influent levels were not reported, TSS concentrations in the effluents were less than 3 mg/l throughout the study period. Mitchell reported that there was no evidence of clogging in any of the filters. He offered the opinion that such a system could definitely operate maintenance-free at 8 gal/ft2/day and could probably do so at rates in excess of 15 gal/ft2/day. [18]

Swanson and Dix [15] studied a recirculating filter treating household septic tank effluent which utilized bottom ash as the filter media. The "sand" filter was constructed over a rock filter, which also served as a reservoir for the mixture of septic tank effluent and "sand" filter effluent. Several operating periods were reported, with forward flow loading rates ranging from 3.0 to 8.2 gal/ft2/day and actual total hydraulic loading rates (forward flow plus recirculation flow) ranging from 13.8 to 44.8 gal/ft2/day. Except for the trials conducted at a hydraulic loading rate of 3.0 gal/ft2/day, organic loading rates were all in excess of 0.005 lb./ft2/day. Over the 8-month study period, effluent BOD5 averaged 3.4-12.1 mg/l, representing average removal efficiencies of 91-98%. Though not statistically significant, it is interesting to note that the lowest efficiency was achieved at the lowest forward flow and total hydraulic loading rate, and the highest efficiency was experienced at the highest forward flow and second-highest total hydraulic loading rate. For TSS, the overall average effluent strength was 7.7 mg/l, representing a 90% removal efficiency. The range was from 84% to 93%, with the highest efficiencies again being observed at the highest loading rates.

A demonstration project conducted by the Town of Washington on Washington Island, Wisconsin, monitored the performance of 5 recirculating sand filter systems under "field" conditions. Four of the systems served residences, and one served the island's grocery store. The circumstances of each system varied, and the usage of some of the systems varied with the seasons. In general, however, removal rates for BOD5 and TSS were in excess of 95% at hydraulic loading rates ranging from 2.5 to over 10 gal/ft2/day. Septic tank effluent strengths were typically quite high, especially at the store (where the relatively low 2.5 gal/ft2/day hydraulic flow rate was observed), so average organic loading rates were well above 0.005 lb/ft2/day in all systems. [19]

These experiences introduce the recirculation concept. Originally, this feature was employed to minimize odors when dosing open sand filters in the on-site environment. [11,12] However, it was found to also improve operating efficiency of the filter. This is almost certainly due in part to the more uniform loading schedule usually experienced in recirculating systems. The foregoing discussions have indicated that better treatment efficiency can be expected if the sand filter is loaded more uniformly throughout the diurnal cycle. A ubiquitous characteristic of small-scale systems--especially those serving a single family home--is extreme variability in the diurnal flow profile. This suggests that recirculation for the purpose of enhancing temporal stability of sand filter loadings is a desirable strategy.

Improved operation is also due to dilution of effluent strength imparted by the recirculation flow. For example, in the Swanson and Dix system reviewed above, average organic loading rate was generally somewhat in excess of 0.005 lb/ft2/day. However, with recirculation ratios ranging from 3.4:1 to 7:1, the organic strength of the applied influent was greatly reduced. [15]

One of the sand filter systems in the Washington Island project provided a graphic example of the benefits of recirculation in an on-site system. The filter was operated in a single-pass mode for almost a year. During this period, BOD5 removal averaged only 78.6% (60.2 mg/l average strength), TSS removal averaged 80.9%, and nitrification was inconsistent. Within two weeks after a recirculation system was installed, high degrees of both BOD5/TSS removal and nitrification were achieved, despite this system being quite heavily loaded (>10 gal/ft2/day) for the four months following startup of the recirculation system. The system operated with this improved efficiency until the end of the observation period over a year later. BOD5 removal averaged 94% (12.4 mg/l average strength), even though there was a flaw in the recirculation system which caused the recirculation ratio to vary widely. It is expected that a combination of decreased organic strength of applied influent, more uniform loading cycle, and more frequent dosing of the filter bed produced this improved performance. [19]

This discussion highlights a widespread misconception about sand filter technology. Many regard single-pass intermittent sand filters and recirculating sand filters as different technologies, with different design parameters being relevant to each. However, both types are intermittently loaded and the operating principles are the same for each. It is clear from the above that recirculation is nothing more than a device to control timing of filter loadings and to manipulate the applied organic strength.

The Washington Island project also confirmed that little treatment efficiency would be lost by employing coarser media in recirculating sand filters. Three of the systems employed a very coarse gravel media in the size range of 1/4"-3/8" (6-9.5 mm), yet still provided superior performance. [19] This has been observed in other efforts as well, and larger media is being routinely used in many applications. [20] Good results have been obtained, however, with a range of media sizes, from about 1 mm to over 6 mm. Slightly lower effluent BOD5 and TSS levels and better removal of indicator bacteria--presumed to imply better removal of pathogens--are generally obtained with smaller media.

All of these considerations indicate that sand filter systems can be designed to support forward flow hydraulic loading rates in the range of 6-10 gal/ft2/day. Filters loaded this heavily should employ larger media, should be dosed frequently with the total daily load spread uniformly throughout the diurnal cycle, and should employ recirculation or some other means to reduce organic strength of the influent.

It is also important to dose the filter bed as uniformly as practical over the entire surface. This is especially so when employing larger media. If water is applied over only a small area of the filter, it would not spread over other parts of the filter area until significant clogging of the area receiving the flow had occurred. Then adjacent areas would receive all the flow until they too clogged, and so on, until this "progressive failure" resulted in the whole bed becoming clogged. Uniform distribution can be accomplished with either a very dense network of perforated headers or a spray distribution system. The latter is typically more practical and cost efficient to construct.

Another one of the sand filters on Washington Island demonstrated the importance of uniform distribution. Due to a design flaw, the spray heads partially clogged, so that influent ran onto the filter surface only in a small area around each of the six heads rather than being thrown over the full surface. This situation persisted for several months, during which system performance--which had been excellent for many months prior to this--degraded badly. As soon as the spray system was repaired, BOD5 and TSS removal efficiency drastically improved and the filter also began nitrifying again, even though by this time the condition of the bed was highly compromised. This experience is also a graphic example of how resilient the sand filter technology is. [19]

Another basic design parameter is media depth. Design criteria generally recommend a depth of 24-36 inches. [1,17] It has been recognized, however, that most of the purification is affected within the top 9-12 inches of media. [1,4,5,9,17] It is asserted that a greater depth of media tends to produce more consistent effluent quality. [1,17] The reasons given are that deeper beds are not as severely affected by rainfall and that they permit the removal of more media before replacement becomes necessary. It is clear that a filter bed contained in a buried tank and for which very, very infrequent scraping is expected to be required would be immune to these concerns. Therefore, it is expected that perhaps even less than 24 inches of sand depth would be sufficient in these sand filters.

It turns out that design features which would enhance sand filter treatment efficiency in regard to BOD5 and TSS removal and allow it to be more heavily loaded also generally promote a high degree of nitrification, which is the conversion of ammonium-nitrogen in the wastewater to the nitrate form. This is, of course, a prerequisite for eliminating nitrogen by denitrification.


Troubleshooting Your Septic Tank Problem

Here are steps to troubleshoot your standard gravity septic system:

1.      Open the lid of the septic tank and observe the water level.

2.      If the level is normal, then the problem is in the line inside the house or between the house and the tank. There may be a simple stop-up or clog, or the line may be broken down. A sewer snake can unstop a line, but if it is broken down then the failed piping must be replaced.

3.      If the level in the tank is high, then either the line leaving the tank is clogged or something is wrong with the drainfield. Possible problems include sludge in the bottom of the tank, or drainfield lines crushed by heavy vehicles, dislodged by shifting soil, or infiltrated by tree roots, or the field is saturated.

4.      Snake out the line leading from the tank to the drain field (leech field, leach field). If the snake comes back with mud, that suggests that the line is broken down.

5.      If lots of smelly water pours back into the septic tank when it is pumped, that tells you the drain field is saturated. Chances are it will need to be remediated or replaced.


Sinkhole Danger from Abandoned Septic Tanks

Millions of homes, 60 million by one estimate, in the United States have a danger in their yards that they don't even recognize. That danger is old septic tanks and cess pools, abandoned when sewer service became available. The ground over these empty tanks can collapse without warning, and whatever or whomever is standing or playing there at the time can disappear in a moment.

This can happen in neighborhoods all across the U.S. In Allentown, N.J., James Carter was playing in his backyard when the ground under him suddenly opened up. The 2-year-old fell into an abandoned septic tank. His mother witnessed the event and was able to grab his outstretched hand and pull him to safety, as dirt and stones continued to fall onto his face. Weeks later, a second cesspool collapsed in the same yard, but fortunately no one was hurt.

Other families have not been so fortunate. In Stratford, N.J., a woman plunged 15 feet into a cesspool behind her house and died. That same week, in Ingleside, Texas, Maria Carmen Gomez was killed when she fill into an abandoned tank close to her front door. She was only two years old.

The danger is most pronounced in suburban neighborhoods built before the 1970s. At the time many of those areas did not have central sewer service so they installed septic systems. As the cities grew outward they brought in sewer lines and the septic tanks were abandoned in place. Age has worked its woes on the concrete or fiberglass of the tanks, and now they are beginning to fail unpredictably.

How can you tell if your house has this? Your local zoning office can tell you if your neighborhood had central sewers when the house was built. If not, then the chances are great that there is one or more septic tanks lurking under the yard. A septic contractor can survey the yard to locate any tanks, and a contractor can fill any found with solid materials like sand, gravel or concrete so they will not collapse. The cost of this procedure varies with size and location of the tank, but is likely to be between $500 and $2000.

For your own safety and peace of mind, you owe it to yourself to discover and fill these lurking hazards.


How Sodium Contributes to Septic System Soil Failures

The equivalent of 56 pounds of table salt are discharged into the drainfield soils each year from a household of 3-4 users. Within 4-10 years, sodium discharge begins to effect the ability of disposal soils to treat and absorb domestic waste water. The amounts of sodium used, the precise nature of local soils, and the volume of drainage area in the system vary, of course.

The high sodium content of household products for laundry, kitchen, bath and cleaning are a primary source of soil failures. Addition of water softener wastes or sodium content in local water supply also contribute to the problem.

New research pinpoints old problem

A ten year study recently completed by Dr. Robert Patterson contains the newest and most thorough study ever undertaken on the contribution of sodiums to septic system soil failures.

Dr. Patterson's work sheds new light on the influence of modern products on septic system drainage soils. The detailed records and scientific laboratory evaluations provided in this outstanding scientific work by Dr. Patterson give us clear insights into problems noted by leading scientists over the years.

After ten years of thoroughly documented research, Dr. Patterson concludes: "The inevitable consequence of continual addition of sodium in septic tank effluent is a decrease in the soil's hydraulic conductivity leading, in many cases, to drainfield failure."

Three causes of septic system soil failure

Septic system soil failure may be physical, biological or chemical. These three conditions often occur in sequence. For instance, when chemical (cationic) exchanges occur from sodium, fines or clay particles may bond into a waterproof barrier, which in turn causes the physical flooding, blockage of soil passages and biological death of air-dependent cleaning organisms in the soil.

Agricultural soil and wastewater scientists have long recognized that in time, sodium in irrigation waters will cause finer soil particles to bond together into impermeable layers. In agriculture, this chemical change causes physical or structural changes in the soil which ultimately leads to loss of biological uptake of plant nutrients.

In the septic system drainfield, problems begin when a thin impermeable layer of bonded fines develops directly under the leachlines or on the trench floor or walls.

This layer grows in density over time and soon a "waterproof" barrier prevents access to the absorptive active soil surfaces needed for maximum organism contact and cleanup of wastes.

Historic recognition of sodium influence on soils

In the late 1940s and early 1950s researchers working at UC's Sanitary Engineering Research Lab (SERL) in Richmond, California and at the Federal Security Agency (FSA) facility in Cincinnati made a dozens of presentations to environmental health professionals.

The role of sodium in waste water was repeatedly mentioned as a contributing factor in septic system leachfield failures. Publications of SERL and Cincinnati findings published over the next several years made note of sodium influences on soils.

In a 1953 speech entitled Clogging Characteristics of Domestic Effluent, T.W. Bendixen outlined the role of sodium to a series of audiences across the nation.

He observed, "It is generally considered that waters containing 50 percent of total cations (sodium, calcium, magnesium and potassium) as sodium are potentially harmful to soil absorptive characteristics. Even in sandy soils, waters of 85 percent or higher are likely to make soils impermeable after prolonged use."

In 1973, Wastewater Treatment Systems for Small Communities, published by the Commission on Rural Water, stated that "High concentrations of sodium ions exchange with calcium and magnesium ions in the clay matrix. The exchanging ions alter the forces that hold the clay together and cause it to Wisconsin scientists assigned to study the effects of water softeners on septic systems reported to the Water Quality Research Council. The findings of these researchers led them to recommend that, "Studies be initiated to determine the effect of actual salt concentrations in various zones of the septic tank, with and without the addition of water softener wastes."

Many field studies of septic system chemistry and structure have historically noted the high sodium levels where soils are used to drain domestic waste water. In 1953, several studies were performed by Universities, consultants, wastewater and soil laboratories on methods for correcting or reducing sodium impact on septic system soils. None of these studies compare to the decade of documentation found in the 1994 work of Dr. Patterson.

How soil failure contributes to health concerns

When soils seal, aerobic organisms within the drainfield "drown." Cleanup of wastewater effluent slows or stops. As the soil area becomes more and more limited, leach lines back up, the tank surcharges, flow from the home is impeded and eventually, building drains overflow exposing residents to waste flow.

In many cases raw sewage rises to the surface or ponds on the ground. Children are attracted to puddles of standing waste water which carries diseases such as dysentery, hepatitis A or typhoid fever. Wastes may be also be tracked into the home, where further exposure may take place.

(Note: Dr. Kevin Sherman (University of Florida) and Dr. Charles Gerba (University or Arizona) have each studied the potential for transmission of HIV or AIDS viruses via septage or domestic wastewater and independently concluded, due to the fragile nature of these viruses, no danger could be found from domestic septic wastes.

How to spot soil failures

Pumpers often observe water falling back into the tank from the field as the level is pumped down. This is an important sign of soil failure. It is obvious that the problem does not originate in the tank, but in the drainfield.

It is possible to restore soil structure and drainage by chemically treating the soil to release the cationic bond which locks clays and fines together. This is called "reflocculating" the soils, and the process is commonly used in agriculture to provide better absorption of plant foods and water in field application.

It is not always easy to diagnose the cause of backups. A recent issue of the EPA newsletter Pipeline lists signs as "slowly draining sinks and toilets, gurgling sounds in the plumbing, plumbing backups, sewage odors in the house, or tests showing the presence of bacteria in well water."

Plans to prevent pollution

ENVIRONMENTAL technology developed within the University of Ulster could offer a lucrative business opportunity and help prevent pollution from septic tanks.

Tank-Hawk is the name of the system developed by scientists at the university in a bid to tackle the growing and increasingly damaging level of spills and overflows from septic tanks throughout the Province.

However, the system, which is currently undergoing trials led by the Ulster Business School and the School of Environmental Science, could save money for consumers and the government.

It operates by monitoring the levels within tanks using sensors to relay the information via global positioning systems – satellite tracking systems – (GPS) to a central monitoring station where it can be determined if the tank needs to be emptied.

“Eutrophication, or over-enrichment, caused by excessive transfers of phosphorus and nitrogen from land to water, is the most important impact on water quality in Northern Ireland,” said project leader Dr Norry McBride, co-ordinator for Academic Enterprise at Ulster’s School of Business, Retail and Financial Services.

“It is also the most pervasive water quality problem throughout the EU and other developed countries.”

Household septic tanks are estimated to cause between 7-12 per cent of phosphorus transfers from land to water but he said Tank-Hawk could prevent septic tanks overflowing and causing pollution, and could also prevent unnecessary emptying of tanks at extra cost to consumers and Northern Ireland Water.

A prototype of the device has been created and is currently undergoing trials at a National Trust property in the north of the province.

If the trials are successful it is hoped to form a joint venture partnership between the UU and its collaborative partners IETG, a technology company from Leeds, Jigsaw Ltd, a design company from Lincolnshire and Northern Ireland’s Precision Group based in Londonderry and Belfast to bring the product to market.

Consumers would be encouraged to purchase the new monitoring equipment, have it installed by a local contractor and pay a management fee for twice yearly service inspections.


 From septic tank to the sea – Milliyet 

   In a summer resort town in the Marmara region, private companies and the municipality that transported the contents of septic tanks in summer houses with sewage trucks have soiled the beach and the sea by emptying the refuse into a stream only a couple of kilometers away, daily Milliyet reported yesterday. One case in point is the Yeniçiftlik resort town in Tekirdağ's Marmara Ereğlisi district. The municipality that has fined the town's residents YTL 3,000 for overflowing sewage tanks emptied the septic substances that it emptied from the residents' tanks for a fee into the Meşe River that flows into the sea. The river, resembling acidic foam, flows into the sea, soiling the beach due to the septic and other refuse it carries. Many people that go swimming in the spot end up in hospitals. In Yeniçiftlik only nine sewage trucks, one of which belongs to the municipality, work constantly. Villagers that were employed in agriculture sell their tractors and buy sewage trucks just because “it is more lucrative.” Private companies empty a septic tank for YTL 60 while the municipality empties it for YTL 30. They, too, empty its contents in the same river. Residents complain about mosquitoes, sewage smell, and unsanitary conditions. Yeniçiftlik Mayor Kadir Ünal said, “Our processing facility is not sufficient and has a discharge problem. This is why we empty the refuse into the river. The problems will be taken care of next week.”

Be a Smart Rural Buyer: Get an Inspection!

In my continuing baptism by fire into the sale of rural property, I spent an entire day last month overseeing a home inspection for my buyers.  The home was not a big problem, but the septic tank was nowhere to be found.  The owner thought he knew where it was, and he and the listing agent got together the night before and tried to dig it up.  No tank, no leach field. 

The septic inspector, a nice older gentleman, came out around 10 AM with his backhoe.  He dug where the owner thought the tank was.  No luck.  He flushed a little transmitter and dug where it landed.  Found the leach field there, which seemed to mean either there's no tank or it's full and the transmitter flew right over the tank baffles. 

He dug where the owner had once seen piping as he was trenching for something else and then back-tracked toward the leach field to try to find a tank.  Piping, yes.  Tank, no. 

At one point, before we found the leach field, we were worried that there really was no septic at all, and that the suspiciously small pond close to the house was actually a waste lagoon.  Pretty scary, considering that the owner's kids use it as a swimming hole.  Thank goodness, that turned out not to be the case.

We finally gave up around 4 PM when the only remaining spots to dig between the piping and the house became uncomfortably close to electric and water lines, not to mention the back deck.  The backhoe operator called it a day and notified the "Dig-Right" folks to come out and mark those lines for safety.  Now we'll be going back another day, and he'll have to dig some more.

So, hurray, I have smart buyers!  I should be celebrating, right?  But let's take a look at this from the other side:

My buyers aren't paying the freight here.  Sellers are generally responsible for making their homes accessible for inspection, and that includes the plumbing system. 

Sure, my buyers were paying for the original septic inspection, which included some digging.  But they certainly were not going to pay to go on a "tank hunt".

The current owner chose not to get the home inspected when he bought it.  He probably saved a few dollars by doing that.  Now he's paying a guy to dig up his backyard.  That would have been the previous seller's problem, if only this owner had chosen to get an inspection when he was the buyer.

When you're deciding whether it's worth it to pay for an inspection, don't just think about today.  Think about what might burn you later when the next buyer calls that inspector out. 

Here in rural Southwest Missouri, many buyers believe that since there are no local building codes, there's no point bothering with an inspection.  Don't think that way. 

An inspector is not there to check for code violations, but to see if the systems of the home work correctly and safely. 

Don't stop at the walls of the house, either.  Outside city and rural water district limits, drinking water and waste disposal systems are very, very personal matters. 

When I say "personal" I mean it's YOUR problem.  The city is not going to come and fix it for you.  

Unless it's so bad that your neighbors or someone from the county notices, no one but you is going to care if it works or not, if it's safe or not.  Get your well tested, and get your septic inspected. 
All right, say it together with me now:   Get an Inspection!

Post-Script:  Well, we found the tank, away from the house in about the only spot that didn't get dug up the first day.  That's a positive.  But it's full to overflowing, and the leach field is not at an acceptable depth.  It's too deep for our Southwest Missouri clay soil, so it's going to have to be re-dug down a slope. 

This is entirely not the fault of the current owner, but he'll be paying for it anyway.  I think you know what phrase I'd like to repeat here, but you get the idea, right?


Slow Cottage Septic

Here's the situation:

I bought a cottage (a mobile home) 6 yrs ago; when I bought it, it was 6 yrs old. The people we bought from stayed there less than half the year. We stay there about 60% of the weekends through the year, and very occasionally for a whole week at a time (i.e. maybe 80 days??). It's got a 1000 gal septic tank. We noticed last year that it was filling up and overflowing after we'd been there for two or three days. This year the washer backed up into the sink and tub. We had the tank pumped two years ago, and again this year (a month ago: the tank's about half full as I write this).

The tank and outlet are fine. I've left the access port on the exit-line side uncovered so I can access it. (The other side of the tank is actually under the edge of the mobile home. It's a very narrow laekfront property.)

I dug to uncover the pipe where it exits the tank, and that's fine. Then I located the spot where the exit pipe hits the "T" and the seepage pipes spread out from there. Those are the only two holes I've dug so far, but no obvious problems. The system is obviously laid on good big gravel, the pipes are thick black PVC.

Being southern Michigan, the ground is wall-to-wall sand. (When I dig, I feel like a kid digging at the beach!) The home and tank are well above the water table, about nine feet above the lake level, and the sand that I've been digging in is dry.

The tank has been draining, but very, very slowly. And as we found out with the washer, it's easily overloaded.

I've talked with a neighbor, who said he's helped three or four family members in the area who had septic problems, and what happened was that over the years their seepage pipes had filled up, little by little, with this omnipresent sand, and the pipes could be flushed out with a power washer, or simply removed, cleaned out, and replaced.

I'm wondering if I'm a candidate for a chemical clean-out, or is the power-washer scenario a good one? Will I have to dig up the whole pipe system? (That's a lot of work, but given that all I'm digging is sand, it's doable.) Like I said, I've currently only dug holes where the access port is, where the pipe exits the tank, and at the T where the actual field starts.


Well, septic grant for flood victims

July 31, 2008




If your septic tank or water well pump were damaged by flooding in June, you could be eligible for a grant to fund repairs or replacement.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency announced a grant may be available to assist with the cost of pumping septic tanks, performing required repairs or possibly replacing the system. Damaged private wells that are the sole source of water for the home may also be repaired or decontaminated.

"We don't want anyone living in a house with contaminated water or exposed to raw sewage," said Libby Turner, FEMA's federal coordinating officer for this disaster. "If you have applied for federal disaster assistance you should advise the FEMA inspector that you have a private well and/or septic system."

Home repair grants are intended to return eligible homes to livable and sanitary conditions, and are not meant to restore a home to its pre-disaster condition.

To qualify for a limited home-repair grant, you must be the homeowner and reside in one of the designated counties (Lake County is included) and the disaster-damaged home must be your primary residence.

The grants may not duplicate any other financial assistance.

Homeowners, renters and businesses affected by the severe storms and flooding that began June 1 are encouraged to apply for disaster assistance by calling (800) 621-3362 or TTY (800) 462-7585. Storm victims also have the option of registering online at .


Baxter County Judge Dan Hall said a system using packed-bed recirculating technology is shared by four homes on County Road 832 at Talbert's Landing on Norfork Lake north of Henderson.

That system is less than a mile from a proposed, unnamed condominium project on a 7-acre tract off County Road 834, also known as Cedar Point Road.

Hall said Thursday that he's not taking sides in the condominium proposal that drew about 80 people, mostly opposed, at a public meeting Wednesday at the Henderson Fire Station.

"Baxter County's continued growth leading to increasing installations of septic fields is a concern," said Hall.

The number of septic systems being installed in Baxter County has long been debated here. A $160-million cure peddled by Baxter County Waterworks Facilities Board in 2003 would have tied together existing municipal wastewater treatment systems and constructed new public sewer lines across the county. That plan was shelved for lack of public support.

A similar, larger proposal in 2001 with support from mayors and some county officials would have been decided by voters, but the measure did not have support from the Quorum Court to become a ballot question.

Meanwhile, Baxter County ranked No. 4 among Arkansas' 75 counties in 2007 for the number of septic systems permitted by the Arkansas Department of Health. Some 388 new septic tanks were installed that year.

Terry Paul, Wastewater Program administrator for the Arkansas Department of Health, told The Bulletin Thursday that he ordered the use of the two Advantech AX 20 packed-bed recirculating pods because the four houses on small lots required the "absolute best technology" available.

Paul said permitting wastewater treatment pods is different from permitting common septic tanks because the pods actually treat wastewater to affluent-clarity levels required by the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality before discharging it onto the ground.

Hall said he understands the quality-of-life issues Henderson area residents bring to the condominium proposal, but he hopes the packed-bed recirculating pod technology available through Advantech and other vendors will get a fair review in debate.

"We will eventually reach a saturation point even with the best of regulations," Hall said.

Retired real estate developer Jess Vanderstek said many areas of Baxter County won't be developed because the ground composition won't meet perc requirement for septic tank installation.

"I'd be more concerned about all the places in the county that do perc that are prone to flooding," said Vanderstek. "This may be the system we need for places down on the river."

Vanderstek said that at $15,000 for the smallest packed-bed recirculating waste water treatment system, a developer is paying about two to three times the cost of a septic system.

Andrew Fike, a chemical engineer at Little Rock who wants the 42-unit condominium wastewater treatment job and maintenance contract, said the added cost is an equitable trade-off for property owners and developers.

Fike said there are many properties in Baxter and other counties with all the aesthetics buyers look for, but the properties consist of ground materials where septic systems can't perform.

"Those properties are worthless unless you can bring a wastewater treatment system to them," he said.

Engineer Ben Strider, principal engineer of Strider Consulting of Mountain Home, said he sees no immediate problems with the condominium project meeting or exceeding the various federal, state and county building standards.

"If we can't (meet standards), it's not a project," said Strider. "Right now we are trying to pin down all the costs." The project will next move to the hard-engineering aspect of the job, he said.

Apparently, when this house was built many many moons ago, the first owners installed a septic tank and what's called a "dry well" which is an awful lot like another septic tank. The "special sauce" goes into the septic, then the "solids" filter down and the "watery stuff" goes into the dry well. The dry well is a a 5 sided cement tank (no bottom) that is surrounded by gravel, rocks (sometimes hay?? apparently) that has slits on the the sides. The water will sort of filter out of the dry well out the bottom and the slits. When it becomes clogged (by years of soap, oil, etc..) it ceases to drain (or leech) out- or drains out so slowly that it can't keep up with the septic tank.

Frequent pumping will help extend the life of your dry well. But according to my research, it should last somewhere around 15 to 20 years. Mine is now 35. Sometimes there is a drain field after the dry well. The drain field also filters the waste as it exits the septic. Sometimes people only have a septic and drain field. A dry well was often installed to save money or for small water usage people . Since the first owners were an elderly couple that makes total sense to me. Also, my dry well was installed (35 years ago) too deep. Or, when the former owners built the garage- they graded the area and filled in to deep. Either way- it was too deep to work correctly. It was also built to closely to a large tree, and it was built in the shade. Both of those things are wrong, and will contribute to the life expectancy of the system.

After talking to the neighbors- seems they needed new septics and drainfields too.... our closest neighbor (and her rental property) had the new systems installed a few years ago and our homes were built pretty close to each other in the 70's. She joked to me this morning she needed a scuba suit in her basement because so much sewage kept coming up. Thank God that didn't happen to us. Maybe these systems were installed by the same people- who knows. I don't have that information anymore- and the first owners have been dead for a long, long time.

SO- the septic tank itself is fine. We will find out from the health department (who is in charge of these things) if we install a new properly installed dry well, or if we need a new, properly installed drain field. OR BOTH.

It's not a total worst case scenario. It happened at a good time. (if that's possible) We have employed a good company. We can still actually use our house- our bathrooms, our sinks. It has ceased to back up. It doesn't affect my life much right now at all. And, in the end we will have a septic and leeching system installed correctly, that works correctly and a new, flat yard to plant grass on. There's my silver lining!



The time to pump a tank is when the solids have built up to the point they interfere with the settling/storage process, usually one third to one half solid to liquid ratio. However the build rate will vary dramatically from home to home and it is more than the number of people using the system that affects that build rate; other factors are dietary habits (highly processed/preservative laden foods vs. whole grain/natural foods), cleaning solutions, medications, etc. In many cases tanks that are being pumped on a time schedule do not actually need to be pumped.

The drawbacks to pumping a tank that doesn’t need it are:
• Those pump trucks consume a tremendous amount of fuel and the contractor needs to charge more to pay for that fuel.
• They have to put that load somewhere; either they do a land application where they kill the pathogens with chemicals and spread it on a field (the potential for pollution because it doesn’t always work) or PAY to dump it into a sewage treatment facility (definite pollution because treatment facilities are not the perfect machines many think they are).

You are better off having the tank inspected (for a reduced cost) every year and only pumping it when it actually needs it. It will save energy because they can do these from a pickup truck and reduce the chance of pollution.

A bonus for the homeowner is, by doing an annual inspection they can catch problems before they become failures (you can unknowingly do a lot of damage in 2, 3, 4 or 5 years).

And before you say paying $50 to $150 a year for an inspection is expensive, you will pay the city $500 to $1,500 a year to treat your wastewater so do the math…cheap at twice the price.

This is a new concept for many contractors so you may need to search around to find one that realizes this is a better program for them as well. If you want to learn more about your septic system go to Septic Protector. You will be amazed when you find out how septic systems are not only cheaper for you but better for the environment.



Over the years we’ve been living in our house, our sewage line has been blocked maybe three times.  The symptoms weren’t as gross as they could have been, probably because the sewer line exits the house at the basement slab level, and we have no plumbing in the basement.  That means we’ve got a good 10′ of gravity to protect us.  Instead, the symptoms have been either in the form of water bubbling out of the cleanout lid, or water condensate overflowing from the HVAC condensate drain line.  See, some smart cookie decided that the condensate should tie into the sewer cleanout.  So when I said we had no plumbing in the basement, I meant real plumbing.  The weak link in the sewer chain was a 3/4″ pipe that would clog when the sewer line backed up, causing the water condensate to back up in our garage.

These two symptoms started exhibiting last Saturday, and when I opened up the cleanout, sure enough we were backed up.  So I hauled out my trusty 50′ pipe snake and started to try and unclog the line.  Unfortunately, about 48′ in I hit an obstruction that wouldn’t clear.  That pretty much left my only option to be to call a plumber.

I was a little surprised to get someone who could come out on a Saturday on quick notice, but Kenny from Metro Septic came out in the afternoon to pump my septic tank.

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that I thought I was on septic.  See, the other times plumbers came out to unclog my line, they told me I wasn’t on sewer.  I had thought I was on sewer, though, because Cobb County was charging me sewer fees, and had been since I moved in in 2000.  So I naturally contacted the county to get them to stop billing, which they did after I visited a county office that had plans for our street that clearly showed that neither my house, nor any of my near neighbors, were on sewer.  Not only did they stop billing me, they credited me back to when I bought the house.  So I’m on septic, right?

Well, when Kenny showed up and started looking for my septic tank with a nifty fiberglass probe and a metal detector, he couldn’t find anything.  He must have poked 100 holes looking for the thing.  When it became clear that we weren’t going to find it that way, he rolled his mini backhoe into the yard and started digging.  He started at the cleanout and followed the pipe that I had snaked out to 48′.  But when he got to that point, what we found wasn’t a septic tank, or even a drain field.  No, it was a collapsed pipe.  And judging by the black dirt all around it, the pipe appeared to have been broken for years.  So he kept digging.  Another 20′ on he found another section of broken pipe that had sunk about 2′, but it didn’t look like anything had passed that way for many years:  the pipe was clean.

At this point he was pretty sure we weren’t on septic, because we were getting far enough down the hill of my backyard that there was nowhere for the drain field to be, but it was getting dark, so he promised to come back first thing Monday.

When he returned, he only dug another 10′ or so just to pick up the other side of the broken pipe.  He had brought with him a nifty camera this time, so he snaked it down the pipe to see where it went.  As expected, it didn’t end up in a septic tank.  No, apparently my sewer line goes about 15′ into my neighbor’s yard, ties in with theirs, and we both share a tap into the sewer main.  The main appears to run across the very bottom of our yards.

Kenny dug another trench parallel to the one following the damaged pipe, tied in to the existing good pipe on either end, and buried the whole thing again.  He didn’t want to put the new pipe in the same trench, fearing it would collapse like the old one did.  He even installed another cleanout for me further down, which I’ve looked into in order to see our newly functional sewer drain in operation.

It wasn’t cheap, but obviously wasn’t optional, either.  And the mystery of the clogging septic tank is

solved.  I just have to wonder how it was possible for our sewer system to consist of 48′ of pipe ending 4′ underground.  No tank, no drain field, nothing.  There are only two of us, and we don’t produce much waste.  And 4′ deep is probably deep enough in this Georgia clay to keep stuff from percolating up into the yard.  I would think the thing would have been backed up all the time.

If you live in Atlanta and need someone to work on your septic or sewer system, I would recommend Kenny and Metro Septic highly.  He did a good job, he communicated well, and his rates are reasonable.  He’s a nice guy, too.

Low income homeowners can get funding to replace old, damaged septic systems print this article
The News

SPRINGVILLE – A new initiative through Clean Nova Scotia can help county residents on septic systems replace aging and damaged systems.
As much as $3,000 is available in funding if county residents complete an application process and have an assessment done of their septic, well and oil tank. Residents must have a net income of less than $50,000 to qualify.
The assessment is free, says Gordon Anderson, who is contracted to do the assessments in the northern region as part of the project. So far, he’s done 60 assessments in Guysborough County and a handful in Antigonish and Pictou counties.
“You have to be on your own water and sewer,” he explained.
“There are a lot of old steel septic tanks in the county, 40 years ago they were legal and pretty common.”
Now, however, they’re an environmental disaster waiting to happen. The bottoms are dropping out of the septic systems, he said.
The $3,000 will go a long way towards completely replacing the old steel systems with the new concrete version.
Even if there’s nothing wrong with your septic system, you can still benefit from having an assessment done, he added.
As an incentive, Clean Nova Scotia will provide participants with a voucher for $100 towards their next septic pump, as well as a water-saving kit that includes items like a low-flow shower head and a bottle to have their well water quality tested. They’re also given a sample package of environmentally-friendly liquid laundry detergent or cleaner.
No financial information is given to the assessor and environmental problems aren’t reported to the government, Anderson added.
“I’m not there to report what I see to anyone,” he said.
“It’s strictly confidential.”
Currently, there are no grants available for wells or oil tanks.
The assessments are only valid at a primary residence, so cottages are not included in the program.
County councillor Fielding Smith recently had his septic system assessed through the program. He thinks it’s a great opportunity for county residents, especially seniors.
“I think it’s a great thing for residents, especially the ones who need repairs on their septic or need to replace it,” Smith said.
“A lot of people in this area have the old metal systems and they’re running into problems with them now.”
Anyone interested in having an assessment or more information in the program can call 1-800-665-5377.

Ever wonder what a "perk test" is?

So what in the world does ˜perk mean? Technically, it is short for the term: Percolation. And, very simply, a perk test measures the ability of the soil to absorb water.

"The percolation tests are designed to simulate conditions in a septic system. The percolation test consists of a hole 6-12 inches in diameter dug in the area of the proposed septic system. The depth of this hole varies depending on the soils encountered but it is generally not greater than 24 inches. The hole is initially filled with water (presoak) in an attempt to saturate the soil, allowed to drain away and than refilled with approximately 12 inches of water. The rate at which the water drops in the hole is measured at intervals over a period of time ranging from 30-60 minutes. The uniform slowest rate of drop of the water level over a measured time interval is converted to minutes per inch and used as a basis of design in determining the septic system size".

Any unimproved lot will require a perk test to determine if it can qualify for a septic tank and if so, how big a house will the septic system handle. The size of the house is actually the number of bedrooms so, if a lot perks for three bedrooms, the maximum number of bedrooms that a house on that lot can have is three.

When buying raw land that is not in the town limits and thus does not have sewers, it is critical to know whether it will perk as this will determine not just how large a home you can build but IF you can build a home at all. Sometimes in subdivisions you will find oddly shaped lots which many times are bigger than the average. This is probably due to the septic system requirements.

Each county around Lake Norman has their own requirements for septic systems. The process usually goes like this:

You/your builder sting off where the home and driveway will be placed on the lot itself
Apply for a septic permit from the county health department
Draw an initial site sketch
The county will come out to the site and perform a perk test
If the soil does not perk, then you will not get a permit
If it does perk, you will be given the limitations by number of bedrooms

Another important step in any plans for expansion of an existing home is to pull the septic permit to find out how many bedrooms it allows. You would not be allowed to add a fifth bedroom to a home that perked for four!







Ross:"Hey Ross McLaughlin. The septic system's outside isn't it."
Ralph Hunter:"Yes." 


Ross: "What's this here?
Ralph Hunter: "They dug up looking for WSSC's pipes." 


Ralph Hunter:"Because none exist." 


Ross:"You didn't know you had septic tank."
Ralph Hunter: "No, because I had a flood and I saw some sewage." 


Ralph Hunter:"I just want to get reimbursed for my ten years that I had been paying for sewage and I'm not hooked up to WSSC."

Ralph Hunter:"I just feel like I'm being victimized twice." 




Ross:"A full refund."
Ralph Hunter:"Great."
Ross:"What do you think of that?"
Ralph Hunter:I love it. So happy. You guys are great. 



MUMBAI: The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is planning to make it mandatory for all large constructions-like malls, hotels and residential complexesto have on-site treatment of sewage water. The builders would be required to install reactors that treat sewage completely.

The sewage would include waste water from sinks, baths and even toilets. It would be up to the individual construction to decide if they want to dispose of, sell or even reuse the treated water. Such water can generally be reused for flushing, washing cars and gardening, but not drinking. The BMC's aim is to have less untreated water released into the ground.

Presently, less than twothirds of the city is covered by the BMC's sewerage network, through which sewage is piped to a plant, where it is treated and flushed into the sea. The remaining constructions-especially new ones in the far-off suburbs-have traditional septic tanks that, according to officials , have no proper system to treat waste. "We dredge the sewage out of these tanks, but only 20% of it ends up getting treated. Most of it gets discharged into drains, polluting the groundwater,'' said a senior civic official. An official in the civic sewerage projects department added, "Only about 60% of the city is part of the BMC's sewerage network and our goal is to extend this to 80% by 2020. This is being done through the Mumbai Sewerage Disposal Project, which is being funded by the Centre under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission.

However, to take care of the remaining 20%-and that number is likely to rise with population growth-we need to think of better alternatives.''

The BMC's plan is to require builders to instal anaerobic baffled reactors, otherwise known as baffled septic tanks, at every large construction.

The technology for this modern version of the conventional septic tank would be imported from Germany.

Last week, a meeting was called by A K Jain, principal secretary (water supply and sanitation), to chalk out the modalities of the new plan. He directed the BMC to recommend to the state some changes in the Development Control Rules (DCR) so the plan can go ahead.

Installing the plant would be made a precondition in the Intimation of Disapproval (IOD), a set of conditions that a builder must fulfil before commencing construction.

Civic officials are tightlipped about the plan because they fear the builders' lobby will oppose it due to the cost of the reactor. The cost of a plant with a capacity to deal with 14,000 litres per day would be Rs 7.5 lakh. Operating costs would amount to Rs 12,000 a year.

Officials, however, pointed out that the plant would take up an area of four to eight square metres and the space above it could be used for parking. The life of a reactor would be around 20 years and one plant would be enough for a population of 200.

Incidentally, a 2006 UN report on marine environment had said that Mumbai's sewage treatment capacity stood at just 15%. Except for a few urban areas, sewage treatment fatalities were inadequate .

Double standards?

While the BMC is planning to force builders to install sewage water treatment facilities at all large projects , the state government has relaxed the rules for builders involved in the cluster redevelopment of dilapidated buildings in the island city.

In a recent notification, the government said that 300-square-foot tenements, which are to be given free to families in dilapidated buildings, don't need flushes in the toilet. The notification added that a septic tank can be installed where municipal services are likely to be available in four to five years.

In the island city, buildings are all connected to the main sewerage lines and sources have questioned why the government is allowing builders to install the primitive septic tank.


An Anaerobic Baffled Reactor has a settling tank that has the same dimensions as the first compartment of a conventional septic tank. Here, scum rises to the top and sludge collects at the bottom A baffle exit allows the dirty water collected in the middle to be sent to the second compartment. The process is repeated in the next few compartments Waste water flows from the bottom up, with the result that sludge particles settle against the upstream flow The treated water can be collected in a reservoir and reused for washing cars, gardening or flushing. The water could even be resold, but can't be drunk.



Health Department: Take precautions with storm cleanup

Published: Friday, August 29, 2008 at 4:44 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, August 29, 2008 at 4:46 p.m.

Marion County Health Department is urging Marion County residents and visitors to be cautious as they conduct clean-up efforts in the wake of Tropical Storm Fay.

Forecasters predict temperature in the low 90s with afternoon rain showers over the Labor Day weekend which makes conditions ripe for heat-related illness, according to the health department's news release.

Flooding in the northwest area of Marion County has closed roads and has the potential to create sewage and septic system problems. Flooding has also led to increased mosquito activity.

Citizens should apply the following practices to lessen chances of injury or illness:

For preventing mosquitoes-borne illness avoid outdoor activity during dusk and dawn hours; dress in clothing that covers most of your skin; use mosquito repellent that contains DEET; drain standing water.

For preventing heat-related illness and heart attack avoid outdoor activity in the peak hours of the day; drink plenty of water to stay hydrated; stay inside air-conditioned rooms whenever possible; be alert for shortness of breath, chest discomfort, or light-headedness.

For preventing food-borne diseases don't eat foods that have come in contact with contaminated water. If you experienced a power outage, don't eat thawed or refrigerated foods that have sat for four or more hours. Discard cans that are bulging, bent or have been opened.

Refrain from using water in the home if you have a septic tank and have no electricity (tank will fill and may cause backups of sewage in your home). If your well is impacted use bottled water, boiled or disinfected water for drinking, cooking, bathing, and washing dishes.

For debris clean up efforts wash hands frequently; wear rubber boots and waterproof gloves during clean-up effort; thoroughly wash and disinfect surfaces with a solution of 1 cup of bleach to 5 gallons of water; wash all linens and clothing in hot water or dry-clean; furniture that cannot be washed or dry-cleaned should be air dried in the sun and sprayed thoroughly with a disinfectant.

For more information, contact the Marion County Health Department at (352) 629-0137.


  Valuable things to know BEFORE buying a home with a septic system

Things to know before you buy a property with a Septic System

Some people find it odd in this day and age to have homes that rely on septic systems for wastewater removal. However a septic system is really the only way to be fully responsible for your own waste-water and water usage. Instead of paying someone else (the water utility) to remove the waste-water and process and store it, you are doing it all yourself. It sounds like a big job, but its really not. If you can remember a few key points it is very easy.

1. The average life of a septic system is 25-35 years. However I have seen a 40 year old system that was still in great working order. The key is proper management & maintenance!

2. Instead of putting food waste in the garbage disposal put the meat scraps in the trash and the vegetables in the composter.

3. Always use biodegradable soaps and shampoo.

4. Use toilet paper that easily bio-degrades. Avoid Charmin, it has too many oils and won't break down.

5. Don't flush feminine products down the toilet as these items won't break down, but they will kill your septic.

6. Get your tank pumped out every 3-5 years. It costs about $200 for your average tank.

7. If possible divert your washing machine  and dishwasher waste water (gray-water) into a sunny spot in your yard. Your gray-water should never leave your property. This will also save money on watering your lawn!

8. Maintain the grass on your disposal field. Keep it healthy and mow it regularly. Do not plant any trees within the drain field, as the roots will grow into the drain lines and cause problems. This may force you to replace the drain field if it becomes damaged by tree roots.

9.Do not place any impervious cover (driveways, portable buildings, sidewalks, or decks) over your tanks or drain field.

10. Keep any heavy livestock or vehicles off the drain field area. They may cause the pipes to be crushed and fail.

11. Never dispose of cooking grease or oil into your sink, this will harm your septic. Always collect this in a can or jar and dispose of with your garbage.

12. Do not install a lawn sprinkler system over a drain field. This will cause the field to become saturated and reduce the capacity of the field.

13. Before building any home additions, you must contact the county to ensure your systems capacity is sufficient to handle the increased load.

14. Install low flow toilets and showerheads in all bathrooms. Conserve water whenever possible. Don't leave the faucet running while you brush your teeth. Don't run the faucet to get the water good and cold for a drink. When you turn on hot water use a bucket or pot to collect the warming water and use it for watering house plants or pets. Bathe the dog in the yard instead of the bathtub.

15. Keep clear detailed records of the system maintenance and a map of the location of the tank and drain fields, and any service contracts for the system. This information is critical to have when listing your house for sale.



U.S. opposes review of wetlands caseThe Justice Department on Friday urged the Supreme Court to leave intact a federal appeals court ruling on the scope of the government’s authority to protect wetlands from pollution — in this case, discharges from home septic tanks.  Although the Fifth Circuit Court ruling being challenged in the case, Lucas v. U.S. (07-1512), is one of a series of rulngs contributing to confusion over the meaning of the Clean Water Act, the Justice Department prefers to have that issue decided by the Justices in a newly filed government appeal — U.S. v. McWane, Inc. (08-223).  (That appeal is discussed in this post.)

Acting Solicitor General Gregory G. Garre filed this brief in opposition in the Lucas case.

The Lucas case involves three individuals and two corporations convicted of criminal charges of, among other claims, violating the Clean Water Act by causing pollution of wetlands by installing faulty septic tank systems in a private home development in Mississippi.  The appeal urged the Supreme Court to clarify the wetlands-protection issue, but also to decide whether the CWA applies at all to individual home septic systems.  The appeal argues that those are not “point sources” of pollution under the Act.

The Justice Department said the appeal does not pose directly the conflict among lower courts over the wetlands-protection issue, because the convictions would stand under any interpretation of the Act.  The Department also argued that there is no conflict among lower courts on whether septic tanks are covered by the Act, so that issue is not worthy of review.

A small community located in the southern part of Costa Rica’s Caribbean Coast in Talmanaca, Limon, is still dreaming of a day where they will have drinkable water in their homes. About 10 months ago construction was begun on an aqueduct that would successfully supply water to Hone Creek, Patiño, Carbón I, Carbón II, Punta de Riel y Comadre. However, the project has since been put on hold with only 75% of the project complete, as modifications to the original design are being made.

The water for the project is being pumped from a well located in Sand Pit, Limon and stored in a large tank near Hone Creek. It is from the storage facility in Hone Creek that the water will be distributed to the six different communities who desperately need the precious commodity; however, they will have to wait. The design is being modified and production has stopped so until the aqueduct is completed at the end of this year or the beginning of next year, residents of these communities must continue to resort to primitive methods to obtain water.

Many residents are extracting the water they need to wash clothes, dishes, and to bathe from their local wells. Every house in the community has a well, some of which are operated manually and some are operated by a motorized pump, however, most of the well water is contaminated and not used for consumption.

Many residents place containers on their patios or in the yard to collect rain water, which lucky for them is abundant this time of year as we are entering the peak of rainy season. Most residents do add a few drops of chlorine to the reciprocals of fresh rainwater in order to ensure that the water is safe to drink, but that is not a fail-proof system.

Evelyn Villalobos, a local housewife in the Hone Creek Community, confirms that she does have a well on her Costa Rica property, however it is without a pump so they have to collect the water they need using a plastic container that holds one gallon at a time.

Villalobos and her two children of three and four years, occasionally visit the nearby river in order to bathe due to the water shortage. Villalobos explains that “some foreign friends give us drinking water sometimes; the water from the well can’t be drunken due to a terrible smell of iron”.

As for purchasing drinking water in the local markets Villalobos explains that she only does so when it is strictly necessary because the bottled water “is very expensive and does not even last a week”. In addition to the obvious inconveniences of having to struggle to obtain drinkable water many locals are suffering from health problems due to the dilemma as well.

Wilman Red Molin, director of the Hone Creek Medical Clinic, explained that “in many houses the well is near the septic tank and contamination is generated. Cases of dengue are diagnosed due to the storage of water”. Molin also adds that many patients present symptoms of parasites and bacterial diarrhea due to consumption of contaminated water.

Molin is confident that if the people of these communities had drinking water, many of these cases could be avoided and his number of patients with these problems would decrease significantly.

According to Ricardo Sancho, the executive president of Aqueducts and Sewer Systems (AyA), the delay in the project is due to issues in the finance department, however, many believe that drinkable water for 12,000 people shouldn’t come with a negotiable price tag, after all water is a necessity not a luxury!


Sir – Congratulations to Glyn Hartley and Ian Coleman (Friends of Port Hughes) on their comprehensive Letters to the Editor in YPCT August 19 and 26, respectively. Both letters said it all. They expressed the widely held views of the Port Hughes community.
In summary, we do not need:
* a boat harbour. I am astonished at this proposal. The impression I had formed through the local media was that the Mayor, along with some councillors, did not support a marina at Port Hughes. This view is congruent with the collective opinion of residents, who over the last 30 years, had consistently rejected the development of a marina. Suddenly the Council produces a “concept plan” for a marina under the euphemism of a “boat harbour”. Why?
* the fragile marine eco-systems to be subjected to the impacts of blasting and dredging the sea bed. With the potential of thousands of tonnes of sediment, much of it in the finely divided colloidal state (long suspension life before it precipitates) being released into the bay waters and covering the sea meadows and destroying fish habitats, we have the likelihood of an environmental disaster on our hands. We can’t all afford boats to catch a feed of fish. Many pensioners, children, tourists and the general community like dropping a line off the jetty. Why should their fun and lifestyle be threatened for the sake of a marina that residents don’t want?
* a multi-story hotel. It would be out of character with the low rise character of surrounding residential buildings, and distract from ambiance of the village of Port Hughes. We already have a high rise hotel at Wallaroo, a short distance away, while yet another one has been proposed for the Dunes development! What’s wrong with the Port Hughes tavern and the store? They have served the community well.
What we do need is the Council to get back to basics and focus on the essential needs of the community.
Consulting with the community of Port Hughes on issues that directly impact on their daily lives would be a good start, with the proposed Community Wastewater Management Scheme being at the top of the agenda.
For years we have being hearing about this scheme. Information about it has been vague diffuse, and elusive. Project consultants seem to come and go. The process has become tiresome. The community is entitled to clear and specific detail about the scheme.
We also need a transparent analysis that shows the distribution of costs and benefits to the Dunes, other developments and established homes with septic systems. People need to be convinced that the CWMS is worth the cost and the financial hardship of replacing their satisfactorily operating septic tank systems. This is particularly the case, when they may have spent $10,000 plus installing Bio-cycle systems to water their gardens and lawns. Not only will they face more costs, but they will lose valuable “grey” water that they had planned to rely upon.
How will they, and other established homes, be able to access wastewater from the CWMS for their gardens and lawns, or will this privilege be confined to the Dunes?
I welcome the recent letter from the Mayor on the CWMS and in good faith I take it as one step forward in the Council engaging with the community. I now look forward to the next critical step in the process when the detail can be teased out (as with all projects, “the devil is in the detail”) at a public meeting, when a thorough and robust discussion of the proposed scheme can occur.



Your health is the most important thing in life. It’s a simple statement, but one that often gets lost in the shuffle of our busy lives. Our health is more important than status, money, or wearing fancy cloths and driving a hot car. But in our commercial society, the safety of our drinking water is one of the things in life we often take for granted. So just like you would take the time to shop for a safe car or home, take the time to explore a water treatment system.

When we go to the faucet for a glass of water, we just expect it’s going to be clean and safe. But in recent years, there has been a growing concern about contamination of our water supplies. Unfortunately it’s not getting the best water treatment you would think. We hear unsettling news accounts that make us question the safety of our water.

What this article is going to do is provide you with a few important guidelines for learning more about a home water treatment system. You should first grasp what water quality problems exist. Sorry to say no water is 100 percent pure. Water can include contaminants from both natural and man-made sources. Things like metals, chemicals minerals, gases and bacteria can all be found in many water supplies.

The good news is a lot of these contaminants are really harmless. The bad news is that some impurities can be a great risk to your health and well-being. While others can damage your plumbing equipment, stain laundry and fixtures and emit a host of bad odors in your home.

Perhaps the most important thing you can do to eliminate exposure to water-borne contaminants is to assess the area you live in. Federal and state laws require public and municipal water systems to test for contaminants. Microbial pathogens, radioactive elements and certain toxic chemicals are all screened for by public water authorities.

When you consider your health, these contaminants are what can cause the most damage. But since public and municipal systems are regulated, a home water treatment system is not really needed.

But what you do have to consider is if your water supply comes from a private well. Then you need to be more proactive in testing this water to avoid health risks down the line. Since your health is of the utmost importance, get your water tested by a state-certified facility. The best water treatment analysis will pinpoint the contaminants living in your water supply. Probably your biggest concern should be testing for the presence of microbial pathogens, which includes bacteria, parasites and viruses. Take special note if your well is near a septic tank or at a location prone to animal waste and nitrates.

In this instance, a water treatment system is a vital part of being a homeowner. A good system can prevent such items getting into your home and your body. But out of the many types of water systems only some are designed to treat specific water quality problems, so take some help from the experts to find the right one.

EAGLE COUNTY — Looking out the windows, the Johnson family gets quite the view from their spacious home perched on top of a hill in Horse Mountain Ranch.

But the home wasn’t situated just for the sight of rolling terrain and distant rugged peaks — the home has a passive solar design, meaning the position of the house maximizes the sun’s energy.

Ted and Susanne Johnson’s ranch home is one of many homes that are more environmentally friendly as a result of Eagle County’s ECOBuild program, a set of green building requirements for all new homes.

Under the ECOBuild regulations, new homes or big expansion projects must meet a certain number of points based on the size of the home. Ways that points can be earned include large-scale energy saving systems such as a geothermal heating and solar energy systems, to smaller efforts, such as having energy-efficient appliances and windows.

Homeowners who exceed the points requirement can receive significant rebates back on permit fees. Homeowners who come short must pay a fee that goes into grants and rebates for other energy-efficient projects.


Going green

In the Johnsons’ case, they didn’t stop with the home’s position on the lot. They also installed a geothermal energy system, which takes advantage of constant underground temperatures to heat or cool a home, and a recycling septic system that uses water from the home to irrigate the lawn.

The walls are made of pre-fabricated, special insulated panels, which not only provide superior insulation, but sped up the building process by about two months, Ted Johnson said.

His parents live next door in a similarly constructed home.

The siding of the homes are made of a dark-colored reclaimed wood from Wyoming, and the stones of the living room fireplace are found in Colorado, reducing the cost and fuel used in transport.

The wooden awning that covers the long porch not only serves as a place for the couple’s two daughters, Camille, 4, and Charlotte, 2, to play, but also to shade the windows to block out unwanted heat in the summer.

The homes exceeded the points required by the ECOBuild program, earning the Johnsons a 25-percent rebate on their permit fees for both homes.

“It’s a great incentive, and it’s a great program,” Susanne Johnson said of ECOBuild.

The family had wanted to build “green” anyway, she said, and the program helped them along and gave them new ideas.

“It feels really good. We knew we were doing the right thing, especially with kids and a recent baby,” she said of Teddy, Jr., the week-old addition to the family.

Besides being environmentally friendly, many of the home’s features just made financial sense, Ted Johnson said.

Some features, such as the septic tank, did not cost too much more than a standard system. Others, like the geothermal system, could cost up to twice as much as its traditional counterpart.

“But that’s a five- to 10-year pay back,” he said of the system. “So we’ll start seeing return on that soon. It just made sense economically.”


For some, unfair and unwanted

Palmer said he has seen a definite increase in green measures since the regulations were adopted. He said 250 to 300 homes have been built under the new regulations, and some builders have gotten rebates of as much as $20,000 through the program.

“There’s been a higher consciousness on the part of builders,” Palmer said.

However, not everyone has found the program so helpful.

When Susan Nottingham built a new home on her ranch property near Burns, she didn’t realize just how much the regulations required of a home that size.

She ended up with 55 points where the program called for 70, resulting in a hefty $4,300 fee.

“It was put in place to discourage people from building in Eagle County,” she said. “It’s an intrusion of government into private life. They have no right to be telling me how to build my house and then penalizing me on the way I build it.”

Rich Kedrowski, who built the Nottingham residence, said the requirements are nearly impossible for larger homes to meet.

He said the home already had energy efficient insulation, appliances, boiler and windows. Short of installing a geothermal or solar energy system, there was no way the home could have met the requirements, he said.

“Most people don’t want that stuff,” he said. “To add those things to these houses would cost you an arm and a leg.”

Only three homes so far have not met the requirements and have had to pay the fee, Palmer said.


Illegal requirements?

Nottingham, along with other critics of the program, said the program is illegal because it charges an impact fee without a validating impact study, which is required by law.

The program is based on a similar set of rules and studies done in Pitkin County, but no studies specific to Eagle County have been done on the issue, Palmer said.

But county officials claim that doesn’t make the program illegal.

“We don’t look at it as an impact fee,” said County Attorney Bryan Treu, referring to fees such as road impact fees that new developments must pay. “This is a development fee, just like paying for a building permit or tap fee.”

“I can tell you, these (regulations) were reviewed by the Eagle County attorney’s office,” he said.

Still, Palmer said the regulations will be tweaked this fall, with changes that make the rules more fair for builders. For example, one of the point options is for the home to be within walking distance of a public transportation system, not exactly a fair requirement for someone building on ranch land.

But overall, he said he calls the program a success — it gives people options while encouraging environmentally friendly building.

“Basically we’re asking, if you want to build big, build green,” he said.


foul smell from vent pipe after new septic tank installed

08/31/2008 2:59 PM

Thank you for taking the time to read and respond.

Here's the scenario:

1) Old house with septic/indoor plumbing added at a time when PVC was available...that's all I know of the timeframe

2) There is a three inch PVC vent immediately outside the house running up exterior to roofline...ten feet from toilet and ten/20 feet from septic tank

3) never smelled...I have been the neighbor many years

4) I bought the house one year ago

5) 4 months ago I had the septic tank pumped out completely

6) 2 months after that I got hooked up to community sewer..a new system just installed in the town [very very small town]

7) that means they crushed the old tank in place and buried was empty relatively speaking...and installed a new one slightly closer to the house (cement 1000 gallon)

8) it has been used 20-25 times in 2-3 months...only light use while we are working on the house

9) immediately after new install of tank the vent pipe started to smell foul

10) and with hardly anything in the tank?

11) the community sewer holding tank is 1/4 mile down the road

11A) I did my house same way same contractors same least i assume they did it the same way!

12) anyone have a guess as to why the vent is smelling now and never before???

13) I vented it higher and now i just smell it on the other side of the house!

14) how high can I go and still draw effectively? it is currently about 18" past the porch roofline

15) can anyone think of anything they may have done wrong do make this smell happen now?

a cracked exit pipe- would that cause the vent to smell bad?

16) do vent filters work and would this vent be a candidate for one?

This new law requires the residential buyer of a property with a small capacity well to complete the change in ownership form prior to or at closing of the property. 

For realtors, this means we need to include the necessary information as part of the Real Estate to Buy and Sell Contract.  So the buyer can get the process going before closing.   Once on the paperwork is filled out, then the closer is responsible for sending the well permit change form within 60 days of the closing, with as much information as is available.  However, if the closer cannot get the well permit number in time before closing they still need to send in the form incomplete and it will not be rejected.

If the house was built before May of 1972, it may not have a well permit.  If that is the case then it is highly recommended that the seller be required to "late register" the at well before the closing using the State Engineer's form GWS-12.   (which you can get at

There are two different kinds of forms that you will come across. 

GWS-44  (exempt) is for a small capacity well that is limited to 15 gallons per minute.

Usually these well are for residential properties, stricly indoor use, with permitted outside irrigation up to one acres of landscaping and for non commercial stock.

GWS-45 (non-exempt) is for wells that are more than 15 gallons per minute. Normally not residential. 

Information to get before you purchase a property with a well:

1- Find out if the the ground around the well is sloped away from the well to allow proper drainage away from the well.

2- How old is the well?

3- Is the well registered?

4- Are there any water restrictions?

5- Is the quality of the water good?

6- What is the current pumping rate for the well.

7- Is the well actually located in the property lines?  Or is it outside the property lines?

8- How easy is the well to get to?

9- Is the well casing above ground?  Is it sealed weather tight?

10- It is in good sanitary condition?  Where is the septic tank compared to this?

11- Is the casing made of steel, that is above ground?


Rural Decentralized Energy Production from Animal Waste Biogas Plant : Evaluation of Options for Water Minimization Using Process Simulation Software.

P.V.Pannirselvam*. Costa S.E*, G.M Gilson* and H.N.S.Henio*.

*Departamento de Engenharia QuímicaCT.

Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Norte,

Natal-RN. 59078400. Brazil - email:;

ABSTRACT: In the past, farm waste did not pose a problem as the manure made great fertilizer, so farmers simply spread it on their fields., but it now faces problems .In conjunction with these problems with farm waste and the sewage biowaste both lead to contamination of water resources . These wastes has been studied jointly as the resources for water , fodder , fertilizer and energy recovery. This is the objective of our research work to develop economically and ecologically sound bio energy design for small community.The high rate up flow anaerobic sludge blanket (UASB ) and Anaerobic Baffled Reactor(ABR) , solid mixing bioreactor were used to produce energy using internal combustion engine To model these process, several flow diagrams were synthesized based on the biogas production using compressed biogas storage tanks , hydroponics filter system , fiber separation in order to evaluate the water reuse options using fiber feed supported fodder hydroponics and Gravel bed hydroponics as filter system .The material balances on individual components ,based on stream composition, were made . Recycling the optimum amount was achieved after several case studies, simulations, and equipments design and the process optimization. The integrated small biogas energy plant were made possible , shown to be viable economically ,but several problems were encountered to design and implement the project , Among the actual technologies ABR is more promissing than UASB as well as hydrophones green fodder production are shown to be more economic than gravel bed wetland system for water recovery.

Keywords:Biogas;biowaste ;water ; reuse ; energy ; fodder, fertilizar;small


Urban Solid and Agrowaste:In many cities in developing countries, the most serious environmental and health problems are related with inadequate solid waste management (SWM).The waste, mainly waste organic waste, dumped in open places causes heavy environmental pollution to soil, groundwater and surface waters as the amount of the waste generated is growing very fast .In the past, farm waste did not pose a problem as the manure made great fertilizer, so farmers simply spread it on their fields. Today, many of the big farms , which were prosperous as they are specialized and these "farm machines" are designed to produce in bulk and the farm waste problem began to mount. So this huge amount of centralized production began to runoff into nearby stream, and other water supplies not only in developed countries , but also in the country like Brazil Thus there is need come down this growth (Odum,2001 ). In conjunction with these problems associated with farm waste and solid waste ,posing contamination of water resource , we need to reconsider them not as the waste, but as the resource for water and energy recovery for the way to wealth .This is the major objective of our research work where the effort is made to design and develop ecologically sound integrated bio systems for small community based on the principle of Industrial ecology(Odum,2001). A viable development of the practical small scale biogas rural power production in the semiarid North East is the main focus of our study as the water was observed to be the limiting factor .“Good Quality” water is increasingly a scarce resource and wastewater treatment costs too.(Pannirselvam,1998). The anaerobic digestion of animal waste produces "biogas",which is typically made up of 70% methane and 30% carbon dioxide. Since methane is easily combusted, it makes for a good source of decentralized small scale rural energy production In this context of the biogas production based on wastes from cow and chicken , water plays importante role as much as the energy for also the animal feed and the sustianable local development based on the wastes.(Pannirselvam , 2007, 2002); (Kikkawa, 1996).;( Kev ,2002);( Nijaguna.B.T .2002) ;(Hall, 1992).

Reuse of waste water :The once-through use of this water in house is becoming uneconomical and environmentally unacceptable, principally to our semi arid dry region of the Northeast of Brazil.Instead, recovery and recycling of used house hold wastewater is becoming more attractive from both an economic and ennvironmental perspective. (Kev ,2002).In this context , the water minimization and recycling the septic tank sludge is yet other reserch area as this lead to substantial savings through reduced wastewater disposal cost and rural small .Such a system can use hyprophonic fibrous suported fodder or gravel bed . ( Kev ,2002;Pannirselvam,1998).

Integrated Water and Energy recovery system from Agro and Urban Wastes.

:To address the need for efficient design, evaluation, and operation of integrated wastewater treatment and recycling processes, our research group are evaluating and expanding the scope of a software tool for cleaner production called SuperPro Designer. The use of computational modeling and dynamic simulation approach and the system design based on energy and environment concerns were also used . The fundamental approaches in process analysis (synthesis, modeling, and design) of energy and water recovery from agro waste and effluents have particular attributes, require different types of information and provide results applicable in several ways. The system design for small scale energy production from wastes integrated with water conservation using reuse treatments involve complex dynamic system design and operation. The focus of this paper is also on the modeling of water recycling options as they apply to the smallscale biogas energy gereation plant using animal wastes.( Nijaguna.,2002:Hall, 1992)

The term integrated Biosystem with Bioenergy has been introduced to describe the idea of using an inter-related set of enterprises so that the "waste" from one component becomes an input for another part of the system, which reduces costs and improves production and/or income.. There should be no "ideal" Bioenergy production and the integrated waste tretment biosystem, as each application will have different constraints, abilities and interests to obtain and make adaptation of example systems to different situations so that each system suits the small enterprise mix.(Kev,2002).The individuals system requirements need to be considered.


The main objective of this work is to make optimum design of the bigas basd energy production for the minimization of water with focus on small farmer with three important areas :

1 .Enhance productivity, water use efficiency and water conservation for the small scale bioenergy production sytem from solid wastes

2 Prevent organic pollution from wastes and waste wastes .Develop flow sheet for such process

3. Nutrient stripping and effluent treatment aagro wastes ic

waste using novel biodigestor into animal feed and liquide fertilizer.

4. Develop system design tools for the small clean intrhrated production of fuel, fodder and fertilizer. Research is being planned to undertake a number of models and the projects are under various stages of development. Solid Biodigester and water reuse are key element in all these models, which include:system modeling, simulation, design and Project optimization with economic objectives.

Cleaner Energy Production using Agro Wastes with minium use of water.

Approach Composting for bioferilizer and Anaerobic Digestion for biogas or both. Aiming at sustainable development, the organic waste as a source of nutrients and energy has to be reused. Nowadays, composting and anaerobic digestion (AD) are seen as the most favored options to deal with organic solid waste.(Odum,2001; Hall,2002). Both treatment options reduce the environmental burden and enable the generation of a nutrient rich fertilizer. Furthermore, in the case of AD, energy in form of biogas is produced. Now a days, energy is scarce and their production out of biodegradable waste is willingly seen. Thus, AD is attaining more relevance in SWM sector.In the past, this approach was rarely considered as a feasible and sustainable solution for the SWM in developing countries. Only in industrial countries (especially Europe), as well as in China and India biogas production out coming well ( Chris,2007). In some European countries political and economic frameworks changed so that biogas production became economically advantageous for agricultural and industrial applications. New systems have been developed and successfully implemented, also in the field of MSW. In many low- and middle-income countries, AD has been applied using manure or faecal sludge as main feedstock material. Especially in India, China and Nepal millions of biogas plants have been installed, but mainly in rural areas..The extraction of biogas out of solid waste is considered as an issue that has only come up in the recent past. Various low-tech small biodigesters have been developed in order to treat biodegradable solid waste. But Information about the state-of-the-art of these digesters as well as the study on the sytem for the minization of the water use is scarce.(Chris,2007)

BioEnergy from agrowaste : The gas (Marsh Gas) obtained from the natural waste decomposition process is a mixture of Methane (CH4) and Carbon dioxide (CO2) and is commonly called as the ‘Biogas’. Anaerobic digestion, like pyrolysis, occurs in the absence of air; but in this case the decomposition is caused by bacterial action. This is a valuable fuel which is in many countries produced in purpose built digesters filled with the feedstock like dung and effluents from the dairy, septic tank sewge sludge.(Kev, 2002;Nijaguna,.2002:Hall, 1992)

Indian small sytem anearobic biogas technology:

In the recent past the planning, construction, operation or management of low-tech biogas plants has not always been done appropriately, thus many projects failed (.Pannirselvam,1998;Chris,2007 )... The selection of the following technologies is based on ou extensive research, means on literature review and e-mail correspondence and has to be seen as scientific founded system analysis . At least, our research revealed that some of the case studies in India are more successful than any other country as there is greater deman for energy, but the need for china is more for fertilizer and fish feeding. Where as in Brazil, we have demand for all the three; fuel, feed and fertilizer , as rural area are more underdeveloped yet , compared to very el developed cities. Some AD technologies seem to have several successful plants operating on a large scale level, whereas others do not have a good reputation. The following technologies are primarily recommended for further evaluation and system sintheses of our work .

The technology of plug-flow (Figure 1a) reactor was designed specifically to handle organic waste for production of biogas and manure by the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) Bangalore, South India..(Figure 1b) The system utilised green leaves, coffee pulp waste and the liquid effluent from manure. The gas formed is utilised for cooking while the manure and liquid effluent are recycled in the fields. Within the first year of demonstration, eight new systems are produced in large quantities in the world which compounded by many different components such as paper, plastic, metal, glass, wood and other high-moisture organic waste .Nygan, represented as green waste ( GW), food waste( FW), fruit and vegetable waste(FVW) contributed by households, restaurants and markets.(Chris,2007)

BARC Biodigester, Mumbai: This kind of technology is said to be the state-of-the-art in the low-tech context. Several plants work successfully in India and Sri Lanka, where water filtration using sand filter and thermopilific hydrolysis are well demonstrated in a small scale system .(Chris,2007) Figure 1a shows the details of this reactor.

ARTI Biodigester, Pune: It seems to be a promising technology. The small compact biogas plant is applicable for households. A good reputation and more than 2000 installed plants are a remarkable reference. In addition ARTI has won the international Ashden Award recently (Chris, 2007)

Biotech, Biodigester Trivandrum: The technology has more than 12’000 references small plant working with small investments for 3 kW energy. From domestic biodegradable waste like cooked food waste, vegetable waste and waste water from kitchen and is selected as a finalist for the international Ashden Award for Sustainable Energy in 2007. In a 3 to 5 member family 1 cubic meter plant is sufficient to treat domestic waste. It generates biogas to meet 50% cooking needs. Generation of power from MSW / market / slaughter house waste is another area of specialization of BIOTECH. Under this category 9 (or more) plants are already completed in Kerala, India the electricity generated from these plants is utilized for street lightning and to meet in house requirement .

Brazilian project for small system for energy generation use biogas. This technology currently working is based on the energy conservation strategy and efficient energy use. In a confinement of 100 cows, a biodigester was designed to produce a volume of 118 m3 of biogas and a generating group of from 8-15kVA and this to assist with electric energy the demand of the fruit processing installation and water pump. The total demand of the biogas that working with these equipment is estimated to be 85, 3 m3 of biogas, which can be supplied with rest by the biodigester.. This volume of the biogas is enough one to generate mechanical energy using internal combustion engine adopted with the gasoline Otto engine to run biogas and this to assist with electric energy to the demand of the fruit processing installation and the pump for the chilling. The system design of cogeneration of energy and heat is realized after the flow sheeting of several major components: Animal Production Facilities; Manure/Effluent Handling System; Digester Tank (Figure3 and 4); Heating & Mixing System Biogas Cleaning & Handling System; Biogas Storage; Energy using biogas engine;. The heat pump selected for this work is a novel system design based on the innovative and well optimized design. This is made possible recently by the research group in UNICAMP/Brazil which can run using R22 heat transfer refrigerant fluid. The use of ethanol and water mixture as heat transfer agent for heat pump to produce hot water, chilling and ice making together with IC engine has been also well studied by this group. We apply this UNICAMP/Brazil process to our integrated biowaste energy project. (Pannirselvam ,1998)

Brazilian project on the waste water reuse options

Water Minimization Options: Processing waste water of biogas plant for reuse requires that the the amount of the used water need to be significantly reduced. This can be done in a number of different ways as intensively studied recently by Brazilian , National Research Program of Sanitation(PROSAB) successfully demonstrated in Pilot scale for good quality water recovery and also well studied in other countries such as Australia (Pannirselvam ,2007; Pannirselvam ,1998,Kev 2002; Li, 1996)).

  • Hydroponics fodder: The waste ABR treated waste water is used for green fodder (figure
  • Gravel bed and sand bed hydro culture filter: The water is filtered for recirculation
  • Liquid fertilizer of anerobically treated biowaste.

Practical bioreactors for anaerobic biodigestion

:Continuous or in batches, and the digestion is allowed to continue in the reactor called biodigester few weeks. A well-run digester as shown in Figure 1 using plug flow on connectional in bioreactor design will produce 200-400 m3 of biogas with a methane content of 50% to 75% for each dry tone of input. The biogas-production will normally be in the range of 0.3 - 0.45 m3 of biogas (60%methane) per kg of solid (total solid, TS) for a well functioning process with a typical retention time of 20-30 days at 32°C. The lower heating value of this gas is about 6.6 kWh/m3. Often is given the production per kg of volatile solid (VS), which for manure without straw is about 80% of total .solids (TS). Biogas applications from animal wastes or a large centralized manure processing system are constrained by limited energy needs, storage complications, difficulties in exporting the energy, high capital requirements, and complexities in operation and maintenance. (Nijaguna., .2002;Hall, 1992) Despite the many constraints on economic application of biogas, many factors favor continued development and expansion of this technology in Brazil related to the several tropical fruit production chain. These include:   Reduction of odors;    Improvement of fertilizer quality;   Improvement of financial returns as the cost rises for the electricity and fuel that biogas use can offset.

The anaerobic baffled reactor for solid waste water treatments

Several reports and research studies shows the importance of the anaerobic up flow sludge blanket (UASB) and Anaerobic Baffled Reactor (ABR) for sanitation in dense peri-urban areas. In these study, the performance of an anaerobic baffled reactor (ABR) in the treatment of domestic wastewater was assessed by extrapolating existing understanding of the characteristics of laboratory-scale ABRs to design a pilot-scale reactor. A modeling study was undertaken using data from the pilot-scale ABR from different operating periods and measured community wastewater characteristics, and used to predict effluent characteristics of an ABR treating domestic wastewater from a dense peri-urban area under specified operating conditions. The cumulative experiences and information gained in all the parts of this project were brought together to propose improvements in ABR dimensions with good results in Brazil. Figure 2 b shows the Brazilian simplified hybrid Chinese bioreactor model with UASB, which reduce the reaction time and space significantly. ( Andreadakis,1992)

High Rate Anaerobic biodigester: The performance of an anaerobic co-digestion process is much dependent on the types and the composition of the material to be digested. High moisture organic waste constitutes a large fraction of municipal solid waste and caused a nuisance. Anaerobic digestion of this high degradable fraction has been developed during the past 20 years. (Nijaguna.2002;Hall,1992;Chris, 2007) .Parameters such as characteristic of substrates, temperature, organic loading rate and hydraulic retention time were studied. The most important conversion of intermediate of volatile fatty acid was observed as a indicator of digestion efficiency. Anaerobic digestion of this high degradable fraction has been developed during the past 20 years. Parameters such as characteristic of substrates, temperature, organic loading rate and hydraulic retention time were studied. (Chris, 2007).The most important conversion of intermediate of volatile fatty acid was observed as an indicator of digestion efficiency. One stage and two stage system are based on the stage separated into acidogenic phase and methanogeny phase. Two stage digestion of this kind of wastes were proved a better efficiency than single stage digestion. Batch system and continuous system are conducted in single stage and two-stage system. and are observed more and more popular in the digestion of solid state and food waste in Europe, mainly in German Two stage digestion of mixed feed will be applied to industrial scale plug flow reactor (figure 1a) due to its larger resistance to high loading rate, high and stable gas production (Chris, 2007) This two stage reactor is utilized in this work, the solid reactor percolation reactor and the other ABR. Our pilot plant experience unlike the experience of Tecpar zeri, which uses modified Chinese up flow (Figure 2b), approach has not been successful. The percolation two stage reactors have been operated and the detailed results have been published, With out the energy and water the project has not proved to be successful. Thus the small generation of the energy is found to vital in the project .yet another problem is mixing of solids which need pumps.(Pannirselvam,1998) .


This system is used for biowaste from fruit processing industry, animal wastes from chicken and cow. The main equipments studied for the project are anaerobic biodigester, sedimentation filtration units and pumps. The first case study made involves conventional single stage biogas production from animal (chicken) waste the effluent sludge used for liquid fertilizer, with out any separation of the solid, the second one was related with making the separation of the solid , the second case study separation of the solid fiber using sedimentation and liquid fertilizer , the other case study is the liquid fertilizer not only from the solid green wastes , but also using ABR reactor(Figure 4).The last case study is recovery of the good quality water using hydroponics filter with solid fiber separated to make the green fodder of corn seed via hydroponics

The main assumptions made in the model are related to the inferred value of the solids properties and the use of transfer coefficients for thermal and kinetics constants. The values of these constants assumed are validated by the simulation results comparing it to the real process published results. In the following Figure 3, the complex process scheme of the final case study made based on the design using computer software are outlined earlier . (Pannirselvam, 1998). In this work, we designed the flow sheet for the processing the waste and also the whole heat recovery system for water recycle as well water heating to maintain the bioreactor ate the required temperature .temperature.

We also designed the process flow sheet (Figure 3) for the processing the animal and fruit waste using anaerobic bioconversion and also the heat recovery system based on the gas for heating and recirculation of the hot water for biodigestion . From the results obtained, it was observed that the biodigester dimension is very important design components.


The sustainable integrated Biosystem developed and projected consists of several sub system which are outlined in the Figure 3 and 4. .The input and output of the system are shown clearly The details of the design are illustrated in these figures are the biodigester, the effluent of the solid biogas system feeding liquid waste , ABR reactor and biofilm reactor . They are projected to be running parallel and result in organic liquid fertilizer for diverse uses. The main system components are in the Figure 4 and the simulated system flow sheet is in Figure3,

Biodigesters: This is the main feature in integrated system small bioenergy design: This play an important role in converting organic wastes to biogas, reclaimed water and relatively pathogen-free fertiliser.In several country the biodigester technology has a long history, but is currently used only in large-scale operations.The system selected for small scale is the bioreactor, which is modified Chinese and up flow sludge blanket that work (Figure 2b)with pretreated solid waste (Pannirselvam ,1998) , but our system analyshes showed , ABR (Figure 4)is more appropriate for small systems .

Effluent processing for biofertilizer : After the bioconversion, the remaining liquid goes through a series of settling tanks ( Figure 2) and the biofilm supported immobilized anaerobic bacteria (Figure 4) growth is enhanced with respect spent septic tank sludge wastes and then solar energy pausteizition is prompted to make the effluent as fertilizer pantheon free .This fertizer and fibr seperted were also used as the material prima to produce hydroponics green fodder

Sludge processing for animal feed: Once leaving the digester the sludge rich with protein is allowed to settle in the settling tank. (Figure 4) It is then collected and sanitized, using a portion of the biogas from the digester.

Sludge processing for substrate hydroponics fodder culture and water recovery from municipal waste water. This system also compared to the pilot plant based gravel bed fodder system using elephant grass .(Pannirselvam ,2007).The sludge then goes into boxes and is seeded with corn or sorghum seeds.

Several techno-economic parameters on investments and costs were estimated for the small scale pond based system design and compared to the conventional systems , where a better energy and biomass waste utilization were observed in relation to conventional bio process system

This small integrated systems project of nutrient recovery for the hydrofonics system were analyzed with two studies and was then optimized using several simulation to have the increased efficiency, reduced resource use, avoidance of chemicals and less waste generation and the recycling of nutrients and materials and water ..

The preliminary process was flow sheet first made (Figure 3), then also we obtained results on equipments design of the integrated system ..Several results were obtained related to diverse case studies made with the economical objective .

Also we made cash flow analysis for the closed and open use of the water system .The results obtained of the project is the optimized design and also the economical parameters were analyzed . It is observed that the economic return from fodder is more than fertilizer. Even though isolated biodigester system is not economically viable as practiced ,but the integrated system has shown to be viable economically , clean and environmentally sound so that a small farmer can produce energy competitive with market price if the co products from organic fertilizer , feed fiber and fodder based on the small scale

The detailed process economic analyses for the diverse case study are also important step towards the solution to the complex problems of this project . With this methodology with computer aids, the results obtained in a process and environmental analysis were used as the input information in a new simulation. The economics of the bioconversion process of water recovery using ABR and hydroponics fodder from fiber is shown to be significantly better than the bioenergy production alone. The cogeneration system is too complex to be apply to rural energy, require trained man power to design and operate but heat pump can be appropriate technology for rural areas with lager energy savings. System design work for the energy production for production chain for total and integrated use including the agro waste was successfully carried out. The energy integration was made possible with the use of the dynamic simulation based on the computation models with the several software tools for the system design and analysis. The optimization of the complex system integration had been possible with economic objectives .In the future, the present work system models and methods should permit the sustainable energy project developments ,and then following this , the small rural bioenergy units will be implemented with considerable economical benefits with reduced risk for the sustainable production chain. of fuel, fodder and water recovery in dry arid areas, taking into consideration the system complexity.( (Kikkawa, 1996)


The solid waste problem is still seeking for efficient solution for which simple biodigestion technologies could be part of the solution .Among the actual technologies ABR is more promising than UASB as well as hydrophones green fodder production are shown to be more economic one related to known gravel bed wetland system for water recovery. The present study allows the observation that the integration of the process energy needs tools for modeling for environmental and energy analysis of real rural energy problems. The process synthesis with the qualitative analysis and the flow sheet development were realized ,but several problems were encountered to implement the project to rural area in the Northeast of Brazil as this system was very complex one. To deal this complexity ,ecological system engineering, cleaner production principles based design tool using process simulation software and web based network tool were under way to speed the participative collaborative work on the flow sheet building and equipment design for farmers. The contribution in this area is made about the design of the two different biodigester on solid state mixed bioreactor and ABR and also for the liquid biowaste skudge from septic tank both ]integrated for the small system of energy production , improved understanding of basic biological and ecological principles., provision of sustainable integrated production Even though the isolated treatment of the animal solid waste alone is not economical vible to produce electrical energy as practiced now , the integrated small system has shown to be viable for small farmer as they can make energy with the local market price .However this system require higher investments. In the new project which is under developing stage, the recoveries of the water were made possible by the simulation model for integrated energy production combined wit the sewage water. Thus this project is proven successful in pilot plant scale as well as the viability of the small system simulated to produce 10 KVA However much detailed future study and demonstration units are needed based on our results . The better understanding of water recovery problems as the results of the present work made possible the simplification of the complex integrated bioenergy project Thus making possible to find the way towards practical small system to make wealth from waste by waste water recovery and reuse for tropics dry area..


Andreadakis,A.D (1992) Anaerobic digestion of piggery wastes.Wat. Sci. Tech., v 25, n. 1,pp. 9-16.

Carioca, .J O. B., Arora, ,H. L. ;Panirselvam . V. P. Dasilva, E. (1987);.Energy Resources: Perennial and Renewable. Impact Of Science On Society, Inglaterra, n. 148,

Chris Zurbrugg (2007), Basics of solid waste management in developing countries , Review report of sandec / eawag, Swiss acessed in accessed on 20 December ngen/sandec/publikationen/publications_swm

Hall D., Rosillo-Calle.(1992). Biomass for energy. Renewable Energy. Sources for Fuels and Electricity. Island Press, UK

Kev Warburton., Usha Pillai-McGarry e Deborah Ramage.(2002). Integrated biosystems for sustainable development Proceedings of the InFoRM 2000 National Workshop on Integrate .Food Production and Resource Management, February 2002 RIRDC Publication No 01/174,

Kikkawa, J. (1996). Complexity, diversity and stability. In: Kikkawa, J. and Anderson, D.J. (eds.). Community ecology: pattern and process. Blackwell: Melbourne.pp 432.

Li, K., Wang. Q (2000).Digester Fish pond Interaction in Integrated Biomass System ,Proceed of the Internet Conference on Material Flow Analysis of Integrated Bio-Systems ,March-Oct .

Nijaguna.B.T .(2002).Biogas technology , New age International limited, NewDelhi, 2002

Odum.H.T.,Odum.C.E.(2001). A prosperous way down::Principles and Policies,, university pressof colorado,USA

Pannirselvam P.V., Diva.W.F., Melo.H.N (1998). Process, Cost modeling and simulations for integrated project development of biomass for fuel and protein, Journal of scientific and industrial research, vol.57, Oct, pp. 567-574.

Pannirselvam, P.V et al (2000).Computer Aided and Economic Analysis of Integrated Process for Fiber, Feed and Fertilizer,SIENTEX2000 – I International symposium on Textile Enginering, Natal/RN, Brazil .

Pannirselvam P.V.(2002) Characterization of residues ,In Carioca, J. O. B. ; Arora, H. L. . Recycling Process for Animal Feed and Human Food from Residues., Editor Universidade Federal do Ceará e Banco do Nordeste, Fortaleza ,Brazil.

Pannirselvam P.V.(2007).Ecological System Engineering :Sustainable Technolgy Development , accessed on 20 December.





December 2, 2008

PASADENA -- A 30 pound Chow Chow is recovering after being trapped below ground in a 12 foot well.

The dog's owner called the fire department shortly after noon Monday when she realized that 'Crystal' had fallen to a large hole in her brick patio which housed a old septic tank.

Firefighters with the department's urban search and rescue team brought in equipment to cut a larger hole into the patio.

Once it was big enough, they lowered a firefighter into the well to retrieve Crystal.

Moments later the firefighter emerged with the dog wrapped in a cloth tarp.

Crystal was taken by her owner to a local veterinarian to be examined for any injuries.

Fire officials say the dog may have broken a leg or hip.


Workshop set on septic tank rules

Special to the Daily News

Updated: 12/04/2008 10:31:49 AM PST

The State Water Resources Control Board has proposed regulations that will establish new statewide minimum requirements for all new and existing onsite wastewater disposal systems, including septic tank systems with leach fields.

The SWRCB estimates that implementation of the proposed regulations will cost California homeowners and businesses between $350 million and $400 million per year.

The SWRCB is holding 11 workshops throughout the state in order to receive public comments on the proposed regulations and on the adequacy of the associated draft Environmental Impact Report. The nearest workshop to Tehama County will be held at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 18, at the Shasta County Board of Supervisors, 1815 Yuba St., in Redding.

All individuals, businesses, homeowners associations, community groups, developers, property owners and others that may be interested in the proposed regulations have been encouraged to attend this workshop and submit comments.

All comments will be considered by the SWRCB prior to their adoption of the regulations and certification of the Final EIR sometime early next year.

Implementation of the regulations as proposed would likely have impacts on all residents with existing septic tanks, on owners of unimproved residential parcels and on future land development.

Properly Maintain Septic Systems

  • Owners of septic systems should have them pumped out every three to five years. This allows the septic tank to operate efficiently.
  • Be careful not to flush or pour anything into drains that will kill the bacteria living in a septic tank. Healthy colonies of bacteria are necessary for the process that treats wastewater in the septic tank, reducing the nutrient inputs to the groundwater.
  • Don't use garbage disposals; they contribute unnecessary solids and grease to a septic system. Use a compost pile instead.
  • Don't plant trees or shrubs near the drain field because their roots can clog the drain lines.
  • Distribute laundry loads throughout the week to avoid overloading the system on any given day.


Dec 5, 2008

World - Polluted Indonesian river to get major cleanup, says ADB

Stephen Coates

JAKARTA (AFP) – One of the world's most polluted rivers, the Citarum in Indonesia, is about to receive a massive cleanup that will improve the lives of millions of people, according to the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

The regional bank said it had agreed to provide a 500-million-dollar multi-tranche loan package to support Indonesian government efforts to rehabilitate the strategic but horribly polluted river on Java island.

The loan, to be delivered in chunks of 50 million dollars over 15 years, is part of the government's 3.5-billion-dollar plan to restore the Citarum and improve the lives of 28 million people who depend on it in some way.

ADB Senior Water Resources Engineer Christopher Morris said pollution levels in the river compromised public health, while the livelihoods of fishing families had been hit by the widespread death of fish.

"The Citarum River basin urgently needs improved management and significant infrastructure investments," he said.

"ADB's initial assistance will provide safe water supply and sanitation facilities for poor families who currently use water from the polluted canal for bathing, laundry and other uses.

"It will also allow the cultivation of an additional 25,000 hectares (62,000 acres) of paddy, benefitting 25,000 farming families."

He said the loans would bolster local efforts to integrate water management along the river, which stretches from Bandung in central West Java province to the capital Jakarta, some 160 kilometres (100 miles) to the northwest.

Once it reaches the capital it becomes a canal bubbling with industrial and household waste, but it still provides 80 percent of the surface water supply to the city of 12 million people.

Along the way it is lined with hundreds of small-scale industries, only about 20 percent of which are estimated to have waste water treatment programmes.

Dozens of villages also use the river as a place to dump their untreated sewage and household garbage.

Morris said the ADB and the Indonesian authorities would work together with local communities to try to "stop some of the behaviour" that makes the river a "dumping site for all the household waste."

This would involve small-scale projects to build sanitation facilities in villages along the river, as well as larger wastewater treatment plants.

"There's a direct correlation between a lack of water supply, and a lack of sanitation, and poverty in the Citarum River basin," Morris said.

"The communities with toilets and better water supply and the communities which are protected from flooding ... are wealthier."

A health ministry survey published in The Jakarta Globe daily this week showed that 40 percent of households in the country of 234 million people were not fitted with toilets.

It found that 25 percent of households did not have a septic tank or other system for disposing of human waste, and only 73 percent had garbage disposal facilities.

But not everyone is impressed with the Citarum plan. A local advocacy group, the People's Alliance for Citarum, is protesting over a reported plan to relocate more than 800 families as part of the river's rehabilitation.

The alliance has called on the ADB to abandon the scheme, according to The Jakarta Post newspaper.

But the ADB said the plan to rehabilitate the Citarum would benefit millions of people in Jakarta, where 200,000 more households would receive bulk water supplies, and the wider river basin.

It will also help to reduce the flooding that paralyses Jakarta every wet season by preventing the dumping of solid domestic waste such as plastic bottles in the river, Morris said.


State lawmaker revives springs protection bill

Senate environmental panel chairman introduces legislation to create Marion-based pilot program to evaluate water-quality rules


File/Alan Youngblood/Staff Photographer

One of two statues used in the 1960s television series “I Spy” is seen in the main spring at the headwaters of the Silver River in Silver Springs. Florida lawmakers again will consider springs protection legislation.

By Bill Th ompson
Staff writer

Published: Saturday, December 6, 2008 at 6:30 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, December 6, 2008 at 6:03 a.m.

Even though efforts to protect and preserve the state's freshwater springs have failed miserably in each of the last three regular legislative sessions, state lawmakers will try again in 2009.

State Sen. Lee Constantine, the new chairman of the Senate Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee, has revived the issue by recently filing a bill that follows the path blazed by former state Sens. Burt Saunders and Nancy Argenziano, both of whom sought to make Marion County the laboratory for experimenting with enhanced springs protection.

As Saunders advocated in his own bill earlier this year, Constantine's measure would create a pilot program featuring Rainbow and Silver springs to combat their reduced water flow and declining water quality by setting new pollution standards, calling for the monitoring and upgrading of wastewater systems near them and first asking, then forcing, local governments to cooperate.

The twist is that Constantine has added Ichetucknee and Wakulla springs, both of which were listed along with Rainbow Springs as areas targeted for heightened protection and research in Argenziano's 2007 legislation.

Yet Constantine, who sponsored the only successful springs bill since former Gov. Jeb Bush's Florida Springs Initiative was launched in 2001, says the issue is fluid. The particulars of his bill might change as the legislative session progresses, he said, and evolve into a broader statement on future water policy in Florida.

As it now stands, Constantine's bill is a near-verbatim recital of Saunders' Protection of Springs bill from the 2008 session. Aside from the locations, the only significant changes are in the deadlines for action by both state and local governments.

Saunders' measure called for:

The Department of Environmental Protection, in cooperation with local governments in those areas, to draw primary and secondary "protection zones" around each spring to slow the flow of nitrogen from farms, septic tanks, golf courses and other sources.

The state Department of Health to conduct an inventory of all the septic tanks within each springs zone, and to have a licensed contractor inspect and certify them to ensure they function properly. Homeowners within the zones would be required to pump their septic tanks every five years, and failed septic tanks would have to be repaired or replaced.

The DEP to establish maximum daily levels of pollutants that can flow into each spring. Wastewater treatment plants and septic tank users in the designated protection zones would be limited in the amount of nitrates they could discharge.

Homeowners utilizing septic tanks would be required to hook up to centralized water and sewers when and where available, unless granted a waiver by the Health Department.

The affected counties to work with the state in enacting these regulations, including incorporating a springs protection policy into their comprehensive land-use plan, commonly known as the comp plan. Those counties that fail to do so would be prohibited from amending their comp plan to allow for new growth.

Constantine noted that none of those provisions are concrete right now. He simply used Saunders' bill as a "placeholder" to "let folks know I was going to work on this issue this year." And he hopes not to be "boxed in" about where it might lead once the discussion starts.

"We are not concentrating or spending enough time on our springs. We are losing these valuable resources. I honestly feel this could be the first step and look at the water policy we need for protection and growth. This could be a broader opportunity," he said.

Constantine, R-Altamonte Springs, sponsored the 2004 Wekiva Parkway and Protection Act, the first - and so far only - legislatively enacted regulation regarding springs protection.

The law mandated that in building the highway to complete the Orlando beltway, land adjacent to the parkway would be safeguarded to protect open space and preserve wildlife habitat and spring and groundwater recharge areas within the Wekiva River Basin. It also called for coordinated land-use and water supply planning, to include changing local comp plans to insert for stormwater management and wastewater treatment plans.

This bill could be in that vein, Constantine said.

"We've got a chance to put in the right policy that gets us down the right road so that we don't do any more harm," said Constantine. And he urged advocates of tougher springs policies to not get hung up on the state's lack of money. "That," he said of funding questions, "does not mean that we can't put in good public policy for the long-term future of Florida."

Fay Baird, coordinator of the Silver Springs Basin Working Group, a committee of public officials, environmentalists and private citizens that facilitates proposals to monitor the health of the springs, said the main benefit is that some lawmaker is keeping this issue alive.

"Frankly, I am surprised anybody put in anything," Baird said. "But he is familiar with springs issues at least, and even if it is a placeholder, I don't see much of a downside."

Meanwhile, Marion County's own efforts at springs protection continue.

County Administrator Pat Howard said parts of the original springs ordinance, which was divided into more specific sections by the Aquifer and Springs Protection Task Force, the citizens group that reviewed the law at the County Commission's request, still must go before the Planning Commission and eventually county commissioners. Those pieces include regulations for springs protection and an irrigation ordinance.

File Photo

One of two statues used in the 1960s television series "I Spy" is seen in the main spring at the headwaters of the Silver River in Silver Springs. Florida lawmakers again will consider springs protection legislation.

Scientists work to eliminate toxins in wastewater-treatment system

State exploring rapid infiltration's environmental effects, and whether it adds nitrogen, phosphorus to groundwater

By MOLLY MURRAY • The News Journal • December 6, 2008

A popular alternative to privately owned residential wastewater-treatment systems may be contributing to high levels of both nitrogen and phosphorus in ground water -- the very source of Delaware's drinking water south of the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal.

Scientists know the systems cause a large redistribution of groundwater where they are placed, and are trying to determine what effects that may have.

They could be changing the very chemistry of the underground supply of water, possibly freeing up toxins such as naturally occurring arsenic trapped in marine sediments, said A. Scott Andres, a senior scientist and hydrologist with the Delaware Geological Survey.

The Delaware Geological Survey, working with state environmental officials and private consultants, is studying the environmental impact of "rapid infiltration bed" wastewater-treatment systems that became popular during the development boom earlier this decade.

Andres presented his preliminary findings Friday at a Scientific and Technical advisory Committee Meeting for the Center for the Inland Bays. Ronald E. Graeber, manager of large wastewater systems with the state division of water resources, said he expects the research to help the state fine-tune its program, which he called "safe and effective."

State environmental officials have been issuing permits under guidelines that set limits on nitrogen, require detailed hydrological survey work and require disinfection of the treated waste to remove pathogens, Graeber said. The guidelines don't set a limit for phosphorus because state officials have never believed a limit was needed.

Both state and federal standards say nitrogen in drinking water should not exceed 10 milligrams per liter. Nitrogen primarily is a health concern for babies, pregnant and nursing women, and sometimes for the elderly and frail, because it can lower oxygen levels in the blood. In the extreme, it can cause a very low oxygen condition known as "blue baby disease."

Rapid infiltration beds have been around for decades and are especially common in dry, sandy areas where maintaining the water supply is a concern, but didn't become commonplace in Delaware until about five years ago. A combination of rising land costs, rapid development and a state initiative to limit state infrastructure spending to designated growth areas prompted several applications from private sewer utilities. Several of the companies proposed using rapid infiltration beds to treat wastewater in rural subdivisions.

Andres said his goal, as a researcher, is to look at the potential flaws in the systems.

"If you make a mistake, you don't have a lot of time to fix it," he said. "It's going to be off your property and on your neighbor's property."

Researchers are finding that the large slug of wastewater created by a bed changes the natural hydrology in an area.

At Cape Henlopen State Park, where a rapid infiltration bed has been operating for 25 years, a larger volume of water flows into a nearby, sea-level swamp than would end up there through natural recharge, Andres said.

In addition, Andres said test wells below the surface found wide variations in nitrogen levels, with some spots slightly exceeding state and federal standards.

One of the bigger surprises is the presence of phosphorus some distance from the discharge site.

"This is the situation that's not supposed to happen," he said.

It takes "remarkable conditions" to move phosphorus in water, he said. Typically, it binds to soils and reaches lakes, streams, creeks and bays in runoff during storms.

The combination of nitrogen and phosphorus poses a greater threat to aquatic life than it does to humans.

The elements cause rapid growth of aquatic plants and algae and can quickly set up a cycle of rapid growth and decomposition that results in low oxygen levels in the water -- a condition that can wreck havoc with fish and other aquatic life. Excessive levels of nitrogen and phosphorus are big concerns in Rehoboth, Indian River and Little Assawoman bays.

But another concern is what happens to the water chemistry when the hydrology -- even in a very small area -- changes so rapidly, Andres said.

Arsenic that is currently trapped in marine deposits can become soluble when the water chemistry changes, Andres said.

And there are concerns in the potential for big alterations in the natural rates of groundwater recharge.

Natural recharge to groundwater occurs at a discharge rate of about 13 inches to 15 inches a year. A septic tank discharges at a rate of 3.28 feet a year and a treatment plant that sprays treated wastewater on fields has a discharge rate of about 3 to 9 feet a year.

A rapid infiltration bed discharges at sometimes as much as 30 feet a year, he said.

The goal of the research, Andres said, is to find out: "What is the appropriate way to be sure we're not making a mess?"

Health department ruling puts Whatcom County coffee stand in doubt


A coffee stand owner says the county health department is being unreasonable by requiring him to connect to a well and septic system if he wants to serve smoothies and milkshakes. If he doesn't, officials could force him out of business.

Larry Call, who owns Rocket Coffee at East Smith and Everson-Goshen roads, says sales have decreased between $900 and $1,100 a week and he's laid off one employee because health officials in October forced him to stop serving his popular smoothies and milkshakes.

Tom Kunesh, an environmental health supervisor at Whatcom County Health Department, says the department is looking out for public health by requiring on-site water and septic to serve potentially hazardous foods. Legally, every four hours the blender head and utensils must be washed and sanitized, he said.

To get water to fill the espresso cart's water tank, Call must bring it from his approved water source about six miles away, Kunesh said. Even if Call added more tanks, that's still too far away.

"If your water and waste capacity is limited, the incentive is to conserve, rather than comply with health code requirements," Kunesh said.

Kunesh's decision is stricter than any Dan Engle has seen. Engle is the general manager of Seattle-based Bridge Industries II, which manufactures the cart Call uses.

"The design that he's got in his espresso cart right now really is pretty much nationwide accepted, and people are really happy with it," he said. "I've never run into a situation where it's been this rigid."

At the coffee stand, customers have cussed at employees and squealed away because they were angry they couldn't get a blended drink, Call said. It's having a ripple effect and reducing sales for other drinks, and eventually he'll probably have to close the stand.

"I had no idea that we were in the wrong all this time," he said. "We've passed inspections. We've never had a complaint. Nobody's ever been sick."

Call said he simply can't get a loan for roughly $50,000 to install a well and septic tank. But he is willing to spend about $5,000 to buy a larger-capacity sink system from Bridge Industries II.

Kunesh said that won't be acceptable and says Call has to get water on site.

The dispute has County Council member Barbara Brenner livid to the point of tears, claiming an arrogant department is beating up a small business. She'd like to find a lawyer to help Call, she said.

"I just feel like there is a point where government does step over the line. Just because you can do something doesn't mean you always should," Brenner said.

"If our Health Department can't find a way to make it work when it's legally working on other places without special treatment ... then they don't want to make it work."

Palmyra (P) Township, Pa. -

Supervisors and their Planning Consultant are exploring a well and sewage ordinance to address concerns of new wells being drilled to close septic systems.

The board received a call from Carson Helfrich of Community Planning and Management, LLC, Paupack, recommending the board allow him to give a workshop regarding their need to move ahead on passing a well and sewage ordinance in the township to protect the groundwater supply.

There is currently no such ordinance, which according to secretary Kenneth Coutts is a problem because although there is a rule that no new septic system can be installed within 100 feet of a well, the same rule doesn’t apply to new wells, which theoretically allows a new well to be drilled right through a septic tank.

While such a nearsighted well driller may not necessarily exist in Palmyra (P), the board agreed on the need to learn more to consider passing such an ordinance, and agreed to receive Helfrich in January.

Life At The Bare Minimum

It’s rare for an eek!ojournalist to be honest about the actual goals of the energy game. Normally, when giving Congressional hearings and so forth, eek!ologists tend to obscure the effects of eek!opolicy by droning on and on about “savings” and “investments”. Naturally the savings and investments go to enterprises that exist wholly in the mind, like “wildlife corridors” (a notoriously malleable concept of the nonhuman sex and foodie travel industry) and “sustainable economies” (as if we haven’t been sustaining the ever-evolving and dynamic extant economy since prehistoric times - with a short timeout for idiotic Marxist schemes).

As a public service, I offer the most recent installment in this genre, a quick start guide entitled

As noted above, the piece opens with an appeal to “savings” and “investments”, or (as it is commonly denoted when applied to the Wall Street investment community and 401K investors) greed:

“I haven’t paid an electricity bill since 1970,” says Richard Perez with noticeable glee. He can afford to be smug. While most of us fretted over soaring utility bills this year, he barely noticed. Nor is he particularly concerned about forecast price hikes of 30 to 50 per cent in 2009.

Smugness seems to be a cardinal virtue in the eek!ology community, even extending to one’s choice of clothesline string.

Perez, a renewable-energy researcher at the University at Albany, State University of New York, lives “off-grid” - unconnected to the power grid and the water, gas and sewerage supplies that most of us rely on. He generates his own electricity, sources his own water and manages his own waste disposal - and prefers it that way.

The Apostate, a renewable-energy heretic in Memphis, TN, is also unconnected to the water and sewage system. The Apostate household has a Renewable Geo-recovery Hydration System, known in the vernacular as a “well”. Not only that, the Apostate household has a Recycling Subterranean Waste Water and Hydrostatic Sewage Composting System, known as a “septic tank”. And I prefer it that way, too.

And The Apostate is perfectly capable of generating his own electricity when the local government-run utility, Memphis Light Gas and Water, fails yet again to provide normal service to the Apostate homestead. The household has a 25 kW propane generator, run on renewable propane supplies. The propane, an organic fuel derived from the natural decay processes of dead animal and excess botanic matter, is periodically renewed by a nice man with a large tanker truck.

“There are times when the grid blacks out,” he says. “I like the security of having my own electricity company.”

Professor Perez sounds like a man who also had to depend on a government-run utility.

Perez is not alone. Once the preserve of mavericks, hippies and survivalists…

And unfortunates who are forced to rely on service from “public infrastructure investments”…

For people who live off-grid, self-sufficiency means guilt-free energy consumption and peace of mind.

It’s certainly been that way for the Apostate. During one of the many blackouts and brownouts caused by inclement, probably global-warming related, weather events like dawn and dusk, the Apostate revels in the lack of guilt when he can watch a DVD, take extended hot showers, or even the odd jacuzzi with the Mrs.

Whether you live in town or the middle of nowhere, the first consideration for any wannabe off-gridder is to calculate how much energy it takes to run your home and whether it is feasible to replace this with alternative sources of power where you live.

The good news is that the energy you require is likely to be a fraction of what you presently use, says Tony Brown, head engineer at the UK’s Centre for Alternative Technology near Machynlleth in Powys.

That truly is good news, and is one of the best arguments for modern civilization. No longer are people forced to live on the edge of disaster. The energy you use, the quantity of food you eat, the medical care you receive, the clothing you own, the art you appreciate, the comforts you enjoy - all are likely to be a fraction of what you require. You could get by living in a hole in the ground covered with branches, carrying water from a polluted mudhole, and crapping in a ditch. Which is how many of the poor in the Dehli suburbs live at this very moment. Yes, we have much good news to be thankful for.

The average UK household uses around 4500 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity annually, plus some 18,000 kWh of gas for cooking, hot water and domestic heating. In the US the figure varies considerably from region to region. For example, households in New York City use around 4700 kWh a year, whereas those in Dallas use 16,100 kWh: there are a lot of air conditioners in Texas. In chillier regions where people use gas for heating and cooking, on the other hand, they can burn up an extra 28,000 kWh or so per household.

And those “excess” kWh keep people from dying of heat stroke and hypothermia, enable the cooking of gastronomic delicacies, allow the leisure to write music and paint glorious visual art, permit time to organize gender consciousness-raising drum circles and gay rights protests, and allow college professors on work release from the Gibbering Ward of the Bates Motel and Rest Home to publish their Deep Thoughts on eek!omorality.

Burn, baby, burn. If I had my way, I’d have a 50 mW fluidized bed nuclear reactor in my back yard and I’d keep the whole damn block at a comfortable 84 °F.

It would be a struggle to generate this much energy from renewables alone…

That’s true. Only so much can be done by rubbing two sticks together. Which is why I’m into the nuclear reactor thing.

so an important first step is to dramatically reduce wasted energy.

I propose, as a start, the elimination of every gender and ethnic studies university program in the West. The savings on heating and cooling offices and classrooms alone would probably power the entire Third World for the remainder of the century, and wasted “intellectuals” like Ward Churchill could get a productive job in a Kinko’s or something.

With a bit of effort and investment, you should be able to get by on a few hundred kilowatt-hours of electricity a year… Some 80 per cent of off-gridders rely on the sun to do this, with good reason: it blasts our planet with enough free energy every hour to power the world for a year and you don’t need to live in the middle of nowhere to get it. The simplest way to tap into this is to use a solar collector for your domestic heating or hot water.

Not so fast, here. Unless one manufactures one’s own “solar collector” with ingeniously woven forest litter and renewable switchgrass, that means one simply moves the power consumption to the mining, transportation, manufacturing, and retail industries. That may be convenient for one’s own Smugluosity Factor, but moving the problem off-site, out of mind, and on to somebody else’s grid hardly addresses the Planetary Righteousness And Grid Thing .

In fact, the remainder of the article glorifies the use of water turbines, photovoltaics, advanced windmills, chemical batteries, fuel cells, and other paraphernalia required to live “minimally”.

“I’ve got five computers, two laser scanners, two fridge-freezers, a microwave, a convection oven, vacuum cleaners - you name it,” says Perez. “There’s an external beam antenna on the roof for the cellphone and a bidirectional satellite for internet connection. I’ve got 70 kWh stored in batteries that could last me five days. I have too much electricity.”

Now there’s a man who is “off the grid” only in an alternative universe where tunnel diodes grow on silicon trees.




Join Date: Dec 2008

Location: west coast

Posts: 3

Leak in Fiberglass septic tank

We have a 2-tank system (both 1500 gal). Effluent is pumped out of the 2nd tank uphill to be dispersed in the drainage field. There is a leak in the 2nd tank as fluid no longer reaches a level high enuf to get pumped. Level stable at about 26 inches from bottom, around the level of the seam between top and bottom halves. Is it possible to patch the tank from the inside? What about applying some sort of sealant to the inside seam?


Old12-02-08, 03:53 PM




Join Date: Jun 2008

Location: S.E. Texas

Posts: 350

Never go inside an old septic tank. That is NEVER a good idea. The best way to fix a problem like that, is to find out where it is leaking from the OUTSIDE. That is where you would do your patch work.


"When you've done things right. No one will know you've done anything at all"





kokanee is offline


Join Date: Dec 2008

Location: west coast

Posts: 3

Leak in fiberglass septic tank

A septic contractor proposes to go inside the tank to seal it - supposedly he has safety equipment. I'm just skeptical that there is a sealant made for this kind of thing (other than an actual fiberglass patch). Do you know of any?
It would be very expensive to locate the leak from the outside.






Join Date: Jun 2008

Location: S.E. Texas

Posts: 350

Fiberglass is the best I know of, to fix fiberglass. I have fixed a few glass tanks my self. Using other types of patches.They just never seem to work very long. If it is cleaned and sanded or ground down under the gel coat. The glass will fix the tank almost as good as new.

If your contractor says he has the proper safety gear to go inside. Who am I to argue.
I my self would never go inside a used septic tank, with the lid on. There are just too many harmful gases,bacteria and germs.
My safety, and my workers safety are worth more than the price of the repair. If the entire lid is removed from the hole tank, it may be a little safer, but not much.


"When you've done things right. No one will know you've done anything at all"






Join Date: Dec 2008

Location: west coast

Posts: 3

Leak in fiberglass tank

THanks for the feedback on the fiberglass patch - I'll suggest that. Maybe there is a paste you can mix up and apply.
The tank has a 24 inch access port at each end so maybe he feels that provides adequate ventilation.






Join Date: Apr 2008

Location: Oklahoma

Posts: 1,126

he would need both a ventalation fan, a confined space lift, some type of encapsulating suit, and a safety observer to be safe doing this, even then I would only go in after vacuming out the tank and spraying it down with a very good germacide. better than the ventalation fan would be a supplied air respirator, for your own safety i would insist he show proof of insurance and a written plan for entering a confined space.

life begins when the kids leave home and the dog dies



Yesterday, 04:34 AM



Join Date: Jan 2007

Location: West Central Indiana

Posts: 78

Speedwrench, he would also need a countinuous air monitor seeing as its a confined space, I believe


Home Owners Guide to Septic Systems

Your Septic System is your responsibility! How does it work?

Top Four Things You Can Do to Protect Your Septic System

1. Regularly inspect your system and pump your tank as necessary.
2. Use water efficiently.
3. Don’t dispose of household hazardous wastes in sinks or toilets.
4. Care for your drainfield.

Typical septic system:
All of your household wastewater exits your home through a pipe to the septic tank.

Septic tank:
The septic tank is a buried, watertight container typically made of concrete, fiberglass, or polyethylene. It holds the wastewater long enough to allow solids to settle out (forming
sludge) and oil and grease to float to the surface (as scum). It also allows partial decomposition of the solid materials. Compartments and a T-shaped outlet in the septic tank prevent the sludge and scum from leaving the tank and traveling into the drainfield area. Screens are also recommended to keep solids from entering the drainfield. Newer tanks generally have risers with lids at the ground surface to allow easy location, inspection, and pumping of the tank.

Septic system aliases:
• On-lot system
• Onsite system
• Individual sewage disposal system
• Onsite sewage disposal system
• Onsite wastewater treatment system

To prevent buildup, sludge and floating scum need to be removed through periodic pumping of the septic tank. Regular inspections and pumping are the best and cheapest way to keep your septic
system in good working order.
Typical single-compartment septic tank with ground-level inspection risers and screen

The wastewater exits the septic tank and is discharged into the drainfield for further treatment by the soil. The partially treated wastewater is pushed along into the drainfield for further treatment every time new wastewater enters the tank. If the drainfield is overloaded with too much liquid, it will flood, causing sewage to flow to the ground surface or create backups in plumbing fixtures
and prevent treatment of all wastewater. A reserve drainfield, required by many states, is an area on your property suitable for a new drainfield system if your current drainfield fails. Treat
this area with the same care as your septic system.

Septic tank wastewater flows to the drainfield, where it percolates into the
soil, which provides final treatment by removing harmful bacteria, viruses,
and nutrients. Suitable soil is necessary for successful wastewater treatment.

Alternative systems
Because many areas don’t have soils suitable for typical septic systems, you might have or need an alternative system. You might also have or need an alternative system if there are too many typical septic systems in one area or the systems are too close to groundwater or surface waters.

Finding Your System
Your septic tank, drainfield, and reserve drainfield should be clearly designated on the “as-built” drawing for your home. (An “as-built” drawing is a line drawing that accurately portrays the buildings on your property and is usually filed in your local land records.) You might also see lids or
manhole covers for your septic tank. Older tanks are often hard to find because there
are no visible parts. An inspector/pumper can help you locate your septic system if
your septic tank has no risers.

Some Septic Systems use new technology to improve treatment processes and might need
special care and maintenance. Some alternative systems use sand, peat, or plastic media instead of soil to promote wastewater treatment. Other systems might use wetlands, lagoons, aerators, or disinfection devices. Float switches, pumps, and other electrical or mechanical components are often used in alternative systems. Alternative systems should be inspected annually. Check with your local health department or installer for more information on operation and maintenance needs if you have or need an alternative system.

When septic systems are properly designed, constructed, and maintained, they effectively reduce or eliminate most human health or environmental threats posed by pollutants in household wastewater. However, they require regular maintenance or they can fail. Septic systems need to be monitored to
ensure that they work properly throughout their service lives.

Saving money
A key reason to maintain your septic system is to save money! Failing septic systems are expensive to repair or replace, and poor maintenance is often the culprit. Having your septic system inspected regularly is a bargain when you consider the cost of replacing the entire system. Your system will need
pumping depending on how many people live in the house and the size of the system. An unusable septic system or one in disrepair will lower your property value and could pose a legal liability.

Protecting health and the environment
Other good reasons for safe treatment of sewage include preventing the spread of infection and disease and protecting water resources. Typical pollutants in household wastewater are nitrogen, phosphorus, and disease causing bacteria and viruses. If a septic system is working properly, it will
effectively remove most of these pollutants.

Why should I maintain my septic system?
With one-fourth of U.S. homes using septic systems, more than 4 billion gallons of wastewater per day is dispersed below the ground’s surface.
Inadequately treated sewage from septic systems can be a cause of groundwater contamination. It poses a significant threat to drinking water and human health because it can contaminate drinking water wells and cause diseases and infections in people and animals. Improperly treated sewage
that contaminates nearby surface waters also increases the chance of swimmers contracting a variety of infectious diseases. These range from eye and ear infections to acute gastrointestinal illness and diseases like hepatitis.

Inspect and pump frequently
You should have a typical septic system inspected at least every 3 years by a professional and your tank pumped as recommended by the inspector (generally every 3 to 5 years). Alternative systems with electrical float switches, pumps, or mechanical components need to be inspected
more often, generally once a year. Your service provider should inspect for leaks and look at the scum and sludge layers in your septic tank. If the bottom of the scum layer is within 6 inches of the bottom of the outlet tee or the top of the sludge layer is within 12 inches of the outlet tee, your tank needs to be pumped. Remember to note the sludge and scum levels determined by your service provider in
your operation and maintenance records. This information will help you decide how often pumping is necessary.

How do I maintain my septic system?
What Does an Inspection Include?

• Locating the system.
• Uncovering access holes.
Flushing the toilets.
• Checking for signs of back up.
• Measuring scum and sludge layers.
• Identifying any leaks.
• Inspecting mechanical components.
• Pumping the tank if necessary.

Four major factors influence the frequency of pumping:
The number of people in your household, the amount of wastewater generated (based on the number of people in the household and the amount of water used), the volume of solids in the wastewater (for example, using a garbage disposal increases the amount of solids), and septic tank size.
Some makers of septic tank additives claim that their products break down the sludge in septic tanks so the tanks never need to be pumped. Not everyone agrees on the effectiveness of additives. In fact, septic tanks already contain the microbes they need for effective treatment. Periodic
pumping is a much better way to ensure that septic systems work properly and provide many years of service. Regardless, every septic tank requires periodic pumping.

In the service report, the pumper should note any repairs completed and whether the tank is in good condition. If the pumper recommends additional repairs he or she can’t perform, hire someone to make the repairs as soon as possible.

Use water efficiently
Average indoor water use in the typical single-family home is almost 70 gallons per person per day. Leaky toilets can waste as much as 200 gallons each day. The more water a household conserves, the less water enters the septic system. Efficient water use can improve the operation of
the septic system and reduce the risk of failure.

High-efficiency toilets
Toilet use accounts for 25 to 30 percent of household water use. Do you know how many gallons of water your toilet uses to empty the bowl? Most older homes have toilets with 3.5- to 5-gallon reservoirs, while newer high-efficiency toilets use 1.6 gallons of water or less per flush. If you have
problems with your septic system being flooded with household water, consider reducing the volume of water in the toilet tank if you don’t have a high-efficiency model or replacing your existing toilets with high-efficiency models.

Faucet aerators and high efficiency shower heads Faucet aerators help reduce water use
and the volume of water entering your septic system. High-efficiency showerheads
or shower flow restrictors also reduce water use. Water fixtures Check to make sure your toilet’s reservoir isn’t leaking into the bowl. Add five drops of liquid food coloring to the reservoir before bed. If the dye is in the bowl the next morning, the reservoir is leaking and repairs are needed.

A small drip from a faucet adds many gallons of unnecessary water to your system every day. To see how much a leak adds to your water usage, place a cup under the drip for 10 minutes. Multiply the amount of water in the cup by 144 (the number of minutes in 24 hours, divided by 10). This is the
total amount of clean water traveling to your septic system each day from that little leak.

Use Water Efficiently!
• Install high-efficiency shower heads
• Fill the bathtub with only as much water as you need
• Turn off faucets while shaving or brushing your teeth
• Run the dishwasher and clothes washer only when they’re full
• Use toilets to flush sanitary waste only (not kitty litter, diapers, or other trash)
• Make sure all faucets are completely turned off when not in use
• Maintain your plumbing to eliminate leaks
• Install aerators in the faucets in your kitchen and bathroom
• Replace old dishwashers, toilets, and clothes washers with new, high efficiency models.

For more information on water conservation, please visit

Watch your drains
What goes down the drain can have a major impact on how well your septic system works.

Waste disposal
What shouldn’t you flush down your toilet? Dental floss, feminine hygiene products, condoms, diapers, cotton swabs, cigarette butts, coffee grounds, cat litter, paper towels, and other kitchen and athroom items that can clog and potentially damage septic system components if they become trapped. Flushing household chemicals, gasoline, oil, pesticides, antifreeze, and paint can stress or destroy the biological treatment taking place in the system or might contaminate surface waters and groundwater. If your septic tank pumper is concerned about quickly accumulating scum layers, reduce the flow of floatable materials like fats, oils, and grease into your tank or be prepared to pay for more frequent inspections and pumping.

Washing machines
By selecting the proper load size, you’ll reduce water waste. Washing small loads
of laundry on the large-load cycle wastes precious water and energy. If you can’t
select load size, run only full loads of laundry. Doing all the household laundry in one day
might seem like a time-saver, but it could be harmful to your septic system. Doing load after load does not allow your septic tank time to adequately treat wastes. You could be flooding your
drainfield without allowing sufficient recovery time. Try to spread water usage throughout the week. A new Energy Star clothes washer uses 35 percent less energy and 50 percent less water than a standard model.

Care for your drainfield
Your drainfield is an important part of your septic system. Here are a few things you should do to maintain it:
• Plant only grass over and near your septic system. Roots from nearby trees or shrubs might clog and damage the drainfield.
• Don’t drive or park vehicles on any part of your septic system. Doing so can compact the soil in your drainfield or damage the pipes, tank, or other septic system components.
• Keep roof drains, basement sump pump drains, and other rainwater or surface water drainage systems away from the drainfield. Flooding the drainfield with excessive water slows down or stops treatment processes and can cause plumbing fixtures to back up. If the amount of wastewater entering the system is more than the system can handle, the wastewater backs up into the house or yard and creates a health hazard.

You can suspect a system failure not only when a foul odor is emitted but also when partially treated wastewater flows up to the ground surface. By the time you can smell or see a problem, however, the damage might already be done. By limiting your water use, you can reduce the amount of wastewater your system must treat. When you have your system inspected and pumped as needed, you reduce the chance of system failure. A system installed in unsuitable soils can also fail. Other failure risks
include tanks that are inaccessible for maintenance, drainfields that are paved or parked on, and tree roots or defective components that interfere with the treatment process.

What can make my system fail?
Failure symptoms
The most obvious septic system failures are easy to spot. Check for pooling water or muddy soil around your septic system or in your basement. Notice whether your toilet or sink backs up when you flush or do laundry. You might also notice strips of bright green grass over the drainfield. Septic
systems also fail when partially treated wastewater comes into contact with groundwater. This type of failure is not easy to detect, but it can result in the pollution of wells, nearby streams, or other
bodies of water. Check with a septic system professional and the local health department if you suspect such a failure.

Failure causes
Household toxics
Does someone in your house use the utility sink to clean out paint rollers or flush toxic cleaners? Oil-based paints, solvents, and large volumes of toxic cleaners should not enter your septic system. Even latex paint cleanup waste should be minimized. Squeeze all excess paint and stain from
brushes and rollers on several layers of newspaper before rinsing. Leftover paints and wood stains should be taken to your local household hazardous waste collection center. Remember that your septic system contains a living collection of organisms that digest and treat waste.
Household cleaners For the most part, your septic system’s bacteria should recover quickly
after small amounts of household cleaning products have entered the system. Of course, some cleaning products are less toxic to your system than others. Labels can help key you into the potential
toxicity of various products. The word “Danger” or “Poison” on a label indicates that the product is highly hazardous. “Warning” tells you the product is moderately hazardous. “Caution” means the
product is slightly hazardous. (“Nontoxic” and “Septic Safe” Stop, look, and smell! are terms created by advertisers to sell products.) Regardless of the type of product, use it only in the amounts shown on the label instructions and minimize the amount discharged into your septic system.

Hot tubs
Hot tubs are a great way to relax. Unfortunately, your septic system was not designed to handle large quantities of water from your hot tub. Emptying hot tub water into your septic system stirs the solids in the tank and pushes them out into the drainfield, causing it to clog and fail. Draining your hot tub
into a septic system or over the drainfield can overload the system. Instead, drain cooled hot tub water onto turf or landscaped areas well away from the septic tank and drainfield, and in accordance with local regulations. Use the same caution when draining your swimming pool.

Water Purification Systems
Some freshwater purification systems, including water softeners, unnecessarily pump water into the septic system. This can contribute hundreds of gallons of water to the septic tank, causing agitation of solids and excess flow to the drainfield. Check with your licensed plumbing professional
about alternative routing for such freshwater treatment systems.

Garbage disposals
Eliminating the use of a garbage disposal can reduce the amount of grease and solids entering the septic tank and possibly clogging the drainfield. A garbage disposal grinds up kitchen scraps, suspends
them in water, and sends the mixture to the septic tank. Once in the septic tank, some of the materials are broken down by bacterial action, but most of the grindings have to be pumped out of
the tank. Using a garbage disposal frequently can significantly increase the accumulation of sludge and scum in your septic tank, resulting in the need for more frequent pumping.

Improper design or installation
Some soils provide excellent wastewater treatment; others don’t. For this reason, the design of the drainfield of a septic system is based on the results of soil analysis. Homeowners and system designers sometimes underestimate the significance of good soils or believe soils can handle any volume of wastewater applied to them. Many failures can be attributed to having an undersized drainfield or high seasonal groundwater table. Undersized septic tanks—another design failure—allow solids to clog the drainfield and result in system failure.

If a septic tank isn’t watertight, water can leak into and out of the system. Usually, water from the environment leaking into the system causes hydraulic overloading, taxing the system beyond its capabilities and causing inadequate treatment and sometimes sewage to flow up to the ground surface. Water leaking out of the septic tank is a significant health hazard because the leaking
wastewater has not yet been treated. Even when systems are properly designed, failures due to poor installation practices can occur. If the drainfield is not properly leveled, wastewater can
overload the system. Heavy equipment can damage the drainfield during installation which can lead to soil compaction and reduce the wastewater infiltration rate. And if surface drainage isn’t diverted away from the field, it can flow into and saturate the drainfield.

Local Health Department
EPA Onsite/Decentralized Management Homepage
EPA developed this Web site to provide tools for communities investigating and implementing onsite/decentralized management programs. The Web site contains fact sheets, program summaries, case studies, links to design and other manuals, and a list of state health department contacts that can put you in touch with your local health department.

National Small Flows Clearinghouse Funded by grants from EPA, the NSFC helps America’s small communities and individuals solve their wastewater problems. Its activities include
a Web site, online discussion groups, a toll-free assistance line (800- 624-8301), informative publications, and a free quarterly newsletter and magazine.

Rural Community Assistance Program RCAP is a resource for community leaders and others looking for technical assistance services and training related to rural drinking water supply and wastewater treatment needs, rural solid waste programs, housing, economic development, comprehensive community assessment and planning, and environmental regulations.

National Onsite Wastewater Recycling Association, Inc. NOWRA is a national professional organization to advance and promote the onsite wastewater industry. The association promotes the need for regular service and educates the public on the need for properly designed and maintained septic systems. For more information 14 A Homeowner’s Guide to Septic Systems Septic Yellow Pages
The Septic Yellow Pages provides listings by state for professional septic pumpers, installers, inspectors, and tank manufacturers throughout the United States. This Web site is designed to answer simple septic system questions and put homeowners in contact with local septic system
professionals. National Association of Wastewater Transporters NAWT offers a forum for the wastewater industry to exchange ideas and concerns. The NAWT Web site lists state associations and local inspectors and pumpers. EPA-832-B-02-005 December 2002 Revised March 2005

Additional copies can be obtained from: U.S. EPA Publications Clearinghouse
P.O. Box 42419
Cincinnati, OH 45241

Telephone: 800-490-9198
Fax: 513-489-8695
Office of Water U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

This document has been reviewed in accordance with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency policy and approved for publication. Mention of profit-making organizations, trade names, or commercial products does not constitute endorsement or recommendation for use. Recycled/Recyclable Printed with vegetable-based ink on paper that contains a minimum of 50% post-consumer fiber content rocessed chlorine-free.

Septic System Dos and Don’ts (adapted from National Small Flows Clearinghouse)
• Check with the local regulatory agency or inspector/pumper if you have a garbage disposal unit
to make sure that your septic system can handle this additional waste.
• Check with your local health department before using additives. Commercial septic tank additives do not eliminate the need for periodic pumping and can be harmful to the system.
• Use water efficiently to avoid overloading the septic system. Be sure to repair leaky faucets or
toilets. Use high-efficiency fixtures.
• Use commercial bathroom cleaners and laundry detergents in moderation. Many people prefer
to clean their toilets, sinks, showers, and tubs with a mild detergent or baking soda.
• Check with your local regulatory agency or inspector/pumper before allowing water softener
backwash to enter your septic tank.
• Keep records of repairs, pumpings, inspections, permits issued, and other system maintenance
• Learn the location of your septic system. Keep a sketch of it with your maintenance record for
service visits.
• Have your septic system inspected and pumped as necessary by a licensed inspector/contractor.
• Plant only grass over and near your septic system. Roots from nearby trees or shrubs might
clog and damage the drainfield.
• Your septic system is not a trash can. Don’t put dental floss, feminine hygiene products,
condoms, diapers, cotton swabs, cigarette butts, coffee grounds, cat litter, paper towels, latex
paint, pesticides, or other hazardous chemicals into your system.
• Don’t use caustic drain openers for a clogged drain. Instead, use boiling water or a drain snake
to open clogs.
• Don’t drive or park vehicles on any part of your septic system. Doing so can compact the soil
in your drainfield or damage the pipes, tank, or other septic system components.


DOH fines 4 businesses


The state Department of Health fined the following businesses in Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties:


■ Ugly Stick Saloon, 27790 Route 342, LeRay, paid a $250 fine for having an uncovered septic tank and raw sewage on the ground, and for not submitting approvable wastewater treatment plans in a timely manner following that finding.


The septic tank people came today to start on our septic tank issues.

We noticed some darker areas in our yard a couple of weeks ago and after some investigating my hubby realized it was the sewage. YUK!
We now know why our doggies were getting sick about a month ago - they had dug a couple of holes in the yard and were drinking the water that was coming up from below. YUK again!

Come to find out our run off pipes were about 300 feet short ~ so that is what they are doing now.
Diggin up the yard and laying pipes.


KERRVILLE — David John's eclectic establishment offers patrons an array of attractions, from pottery to meals and beer served amid tropical plants while, if their timing is right, they can watch chickens race.

But the permit issued for the septic system at Dave's Place and Backdoor Pottery in Center Point is strictly for residential use, say Kerr County environmental health officials.

And there's the rub.

The county cited John in July for allegedly violating state regulations. He pleaded not guilty.

“He has to get the system brought into compliance with specifications for a commercial food establishment,” said Ray Garcia, director of the county environmental health office.

When remedies didn't come fast enough for county commissioners, they authorized an injunction — which hasn't been issued — to shut down the River Road site, if necessary.

John, 64, asserts county officials knew when he upgraded the septic systems on his property in 2002 that he planned to run a business there.

He complains county workers unfairly targeted his business, asserting it has a good record with other regulatory agencies and has raised more than $25,000 for charitable causes through its International Chicken Race held in October.

His lawyer, Patrick O'Feil, said the problem isn't with the septic system, but John's failure to advise the county that its use had become commercial.

John said the restaurant had lacked required grease traps, and a patio and fish pond had been built over the system's drain field, but said those issues were resolved last month.

County officials say they're reviewing plans filed by a contractor John hired to see what action is needed, if any.

“It's an antiquated system that was originally for a cabin, and I'm not sure what he's done to upgrade it,” said county Commissioner Bill Williams, who defeated Johns in a 2006 race for his seat.

Williams is pursuing a comprehensive fix to the numerous septic tank problems in Center Point, which threaten to pollute the Guadalupe River.

He wants to install pipes in the small town to convey its sewage to a treatment plant in Comfort, a project for which the county just received approval of a $187,000 state planning grant.

Garcia backs his staff's work handling John's situation.

“We didn't say his system is failing. We said it's not in compliance,” he said.

John said he's willing to pay a small fine to resolve the case.

“I just want this drama over with, and I don't want the Commissioners Court to hold injunctions over me,” he said.

Septic Tanks - Not Good

» Posted in House & Home at 7:19 pm

For those of you who don’t have septic tanks, skip this article. For those that do, you will no doubt identify with this. Those small septic tanks are the WORST things man invented. They barely hold enough “sludge” to make it through a couple of months. What on earth were they thinking when they installed those for a household of four? Duh!

On the other hand those with the oversize septic tanks - say 2,500 gallons - can go forever and a day without a cleaning. This saves money as they only get cleaned out once a year. On the other hand the smaller tanks average 4 to 6 times a year. At $125 a pop, you’re going to be wishing you had the deluxe septic tank. Oh the joys of living on an acreage.

If you want to get away from it all over winter, then treat yourself to going on Cape Town holiday.

An Ounce of Maintenance is Worth A Pound of Repairs

When was the last time you gave your house a check-up?

Cars need to be serviced every five thousand kilometers or so, but your home doesn't exactly have an odometer. That's why it's important to put it on a regular inspection and maintenance routine. By tackling this seasonal and monthly outline of specific tasks, you can keep your household running safely and efficiently all year long.

Spring / Summer


  • Trim trees and plants away from your home, including the roof
  • Clean and remove debris from gutters and downspouts 
  • Examine and repair caulking of the windows, stucco, and trim
  • Examine paint on siding, trim, and doors (paint is essential for protection)
  • Clean shade screens 
  • Examine roof for loose, cracked, or missing shingles/tiles
  • Get your water tested by a pool company at the beginning of the season
  • Have septic tank pumped

·         Inspect sprinkler system operation and adjust timing as needed


  • Examine and repair caulking at the windows for weatherization and insect control
  • Close the chimney damper to improve air conditioning efficiency
  • Clean and wax or oil cabinets to protect the finish
  • Examine weather stripping on exterior doors and windows to reduce energy costs
  • Clean fireplace/chiminey
  • Examine bath tile grouting to prevent moisture damage
  • Lubricate and adjust locks, hinges and latches
  • Examine window locks for proper operation
  • Lubricate garage door roller shafts, wipe down tracks with dry cloth and tighten bolts
  • Examine cabinets, drawers, and hinges for proper alignment
  • Clean dryer vent duct and damper to remove any lint buildup or obstructions
  • Have your a/c or heat pump, and/or evaporative cooler cleaned and serviced by a qualified technician

Fall / Winter


  • Clean and remove debris from gutters
  • Adjust sprinkeler system operation and timing as needed.
  • Reseed the lawn for winter grass
  • Rinse off A/C compressor/condesing unit coil
  • Drain and clean evaporitive cooler
  • Drain hot water heater
  • Consider covering your pool when not in use


  • Interior:
  • Turn on your furnace to make sure it is in proper working order
  • Inspect and repair caulking in sinks, tubs, showers, thresholds, walls, windows and all interior areas
  • Check the fireplace and open the damper of the chimney before first use
  • Clean and wax all kitchen and bath cabinets and paneling
  • Call your electric company to do an energy audit
  • Check hoses on washer, refrigerator, and dishwasher for deterioration

Monthly List of "To Do's"

  • Test your smoke detector by pressing the button to be sure it beeps or rings loudly. Replace batteries as needed.
  • Change your heat pump and or a/c unit filters
  • Check the salt level in your water softener
  • Drain the holding tank for your R/O system and it to refill
  • Treat home for insects as needed. This will also help mitigate scorpions
  • Have a professional test your pool water 





Old septic systems aren't good enough any more. DNR cracks down.

      Will everyone in Iowa's tiny towns have to install or modify their septic tanks? That could be the result of a crackdown on small towns without sewer systems being led by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.
      According to Wright/Franklin County Sanitarian Earl Kalkwarf there are around 700 un-sewered towns in Iowa that are discharging septic tanks into the state's waterways. That includes Alexander, Goodell and Rowan.
      "The DNR sent letters saying these towns have to come up with some sort of engineering," Kalkwarf said. "That's a waste of money unless the towns think they are going to be survivors and have people stay around to pay for it. A sewer system (like Belmond has) for a small town will cost millions of dollars."
      Rowan officials received a letter from the DNR and ordered an engineering study a couple of months ago. Goodell approved the design for a basic lagoon sewer system last month, but funding is still unclear. The City of Meservey installed a sewer system several years ago.
      Kalkwarf said some small towns may be "off the hook" if inspections are made and proper septic systems are installed.
      A letter from the DNR to the City of Alexander said, "...the city is planning to have a private wastewater system for each individual house and business in lieu of a centralized collection and treatment system. (If so) the council must formulate a plan to see that all wastewater discharges are eliminated (from storm sewers and county tiles). The city will need to pass an ordinance requiring the upgrade of all private systems."
      Some planning must be done in Alexander by January 15.
      Kalkwarf said all septic tanks must have a filter to keep solids in the tank, plus a secondary form of treatment. Some properties may not have enough space or the proper soil type to install a modern septic system. In these cases, property owners may have to group together to provide multiple-home systems. "Maybe one for each block," the sanitarian said.
      "There is some grant money available from USDA Rural Development," Kalkwarf said. "Still, it's going to cost the homeowners some money.
      "Small septic systems are going to be cheaper than doing a complete community system where you have to put in sewer mains and a lagoon and hire an operator. Right now, each household has a septic tank (that eventually) drains into a creek. That has to stop. People will need secondary treatment, like a big leach field or something. It will cost from $2,500 to $5,000 to upgrade a working septic tank, or about $7,500 to install a whole new system. "
      Several years ago in Geneva, the town required property owners to install filters to catch solids. Now those same septic systems will need the addition of a secondary treatment of some sort.
      "Not everyone in Geneva was happy about digging up their yards for those filters," the sanitarian said. "Now they'll have to do it again for secondary treatment. These expenses can be a problem for some folks. You worry about people abandoning homes in small towns because they can't afford the cost of a new septic system."
      "On the positive side, there are a lot of new ideas," Kalkwarf said. "They are testing several over by Waverly. I saw a new deal from Japan just the other day that includes everything in a big plastic tank. I passed that idea on to Rowan's engineer."
      Kalkwarf agrees with the DNR's plan to correct uncontrolled discharge of wastewater. "People are starting to realize that our water is not be taken for granted."

Yreka, Calif. -

About 1.5 million gallons of septage is disposed of annually in an unlined percolation/evaporation pond adjacent to the Siskiyou County Airport in Montague.
The pond is not designed to be used in this way, is poorly designed, and is not properly permitted, according to a letter the county recently received from the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board. Its continued use “presents a huge liability to the County in the event that groundwater contamination occurs,” the letter, dated Oct. 30, states.
The letter was brought up for discussion at the Dec. 2 board of supervisors meeting by Randy Akana, director of General Services and Terry Barber, director of the Public Health Department.
After the discussing some alternatives to using the disposal pond, supervisors directed staff to develop a plan soon.
“We need to make a decision soon,” county administrative officer Brian McDermott said during the meeting.
“This board needs to do something,” said supervisor LaVada Erickson.
The water control board “strongly” recommends that the county’s plan include “properly closing the Montague septage disposal pond in a manner that would protect groundwater quality into the future.”
“The county has a little over $300,000 set aside to close that facility,” said McDermott, “The state is going easy now, but if we wait until the state gets tough, it could cost much, much more.”
The county has contracted with Pace Engineering to complete a study that identifies potential alternatives for disposal of septage, which is the partially treated waste stored in a septic tank. Septage is composed of scum, which floats to the top and is generally where the bacteria that treats the waste is located; effluent, which is the semi-treated liquid that comprises the majority of the material in the septic tank; and sludge, which is the solid material which collects at the bottom of the tank.
Alternatives could possibly exist at wastewater treatment plants in Yreka, Weed and Lake Shastina, although currently neither of these sites “have the capacity to accept this volume of septage and still be fully protective of water quality,” according to Rou O’Connor, associate engineering geologist for the North Coast Water Quality Control Board.
County auditor Leanna Dancer said she has talked with Pace Engineering and that the Lake Shastina Community Services District seems to be the most likely prospect for receiving the septage.
Supervisor Marcia Armstrong said, “It’s not a question of, does the county want to be in the septage business? We have to be! There’s no other choice.”
Armstrong noted that large numbers of residents in her Scott Valley district are on septic systems.
“They need to be pumped,” she said. “The septage needs to be dumped somewhere.”
McDermott suggested that, “The county could help someone get set up to handle this.”
Several septic tank pumping companies were present at the meeting, one of which, Darrell Fisher, said the septage could be hauled to Oregon, although it would cost more.
“However,” said Fisher, “if it is mandated by the state, the extra cost actually becomes negligible.”
Resolution of Appreciation to Charlie Fehely
Recently retired Public Works Road Department employee Charlie Fehely was presented with a framed resolution from the board expressing the county’s appreciation of his 31 years on the job.
The presentation was made by McDermott, who served as director, deputy director and as senior engineer at Public Works.
“Charlie is the kind of employee who will help anytime he is asked,” said McDermott.
Fehely received an ovation from the supervisors and the audience.
“I really enjoyed working for the county,” he said, “I really learned a lot. I thought I would let some young blood in.”

Septic tank exam too costly

After years of debate, the state of California is finally circulating draft regulations for onsite wastewater treatment systems to be implemented under Assembly Bill 885.

Owners of all OWTS will be required to have their septic tanks inspected for solids accumulation every five years by a service provider, not the government, and that documentation is to be retained by the OWTS owner, not submitted as a report. No operating permit is required. This is what the state will require.

Here is what the city of Calabasas has stated will be required every three years of those hundred or so homeowners with septic tanks.

•An operating permit from the

city. •A check of appliances and fixtures inside the home to assure proper connections.

•A visual examination of treatment tank, where inspectors will check the inlet and outlet valves, tank volume, waste levels, cracks, corrosion and leakage.

•Inspection of the distribution box for leakage, cracks, corrosion and levelness. Pipes leading from the tank to the box and to the distribution field can be checked for corrosion or breakage via a digital camera.

•Distribution field or pit is typically inspected by a dye flush test to assure that the system is draining properly. Probes can be used to test for drainage levels.

The city claims that the cost to homeowners of this routine examination is between $350 and $500. In checking with certified inspectors for Malibu, costs can run between $1,500 to $10,000, depending on location and accessibility.

Residents were assured by the Calabasas City Council that OWTS requirements would not be punitive. Not only do they far exceed what the state will require, but their cost estimates for individual homeowners have no basis in fact.

Residents only seek what is fair and reasonable. What has been proposed by the City Hall is neither.

Nepal, Kathmandu: squatters find way to rid of river pollution

December 11, 2008 · No Comments

Until a year ago, life was like a nightmare for squatters of Narayan tole behind the Maharajgunj-based Kanti Children’s Hospital: [a] pungent smell emanated from the polluted Samakhusi River [and] the squatters [suffered from] diseases, including diarrhoea, eye shore and dysentery.

[T]he squatters sought help from [...] Lumanti, an NGO working in the slums, Waterr Aid and UN-HABITAT, [who] contributed Rs. 90,000 and technical expertise. Two small wastewater treatment plants (septic tank with upflow bio-filters) were built with this assistance. [...] Twenty-eight households of the area have linked their toilet sewage pipes with these tanks, which discharge only clean water into the river. The squatters use decomposed waste as fertiliser.

“Earlier, only a few of us had toilets in our households. We used to defecate out in the open at night. The handful of toilets had their drainage pipes linked with the river,” said Gita Devi Dhakal, one of the squatters.

[...] With Asian Development Bank funding, the department of Urban Development and Building Construction (DUDBC), under the Ministry of Physical Planning and Works (MoPPW), is constructing over 30 bigger wastewater treatment plants under the Urban and Environmental Improvement project (UNIP) in a number of cities.

[However], the bigger the plant, the more it costs. [S]mall [household] treatment plants [are cheaper and occupy little space].

“Every planner can learn a lesson from the initiative of the Narayan tole squatter community,” said Lajana Manandhar, executive director of LUMANTI. “If all households build small plants, then we can clean up the polluted rivers of Kathmandu without having to wait for donors.”

Source: The Kathmandu Post / NGO Forum, 02 Dec 2008


Love is unexplainable. Love hurts. Does the hurt heal?
Why is it that so many people expect the butterflies and stars to be there throughout the relationship? Why is more love than can ever be explained not enough? Why is it that it takes screw up after screw up before you realize that you have to get it together ... but it is too late?
When something is worth fighting for - you have to fight!

Love is an amazing thing and sometimes it is taken for granted... the grass is not always greener on the other side. My dad used to say that if it looks like the grass is greener on the other side, it might be - but consider that it could also be because there is a septic tank over there.

Love is a powerful thing!


Septic system behind Felton shopping center fixed quickly

Sentinel staff report

Posted: 12/12/2008 12:48:46 PM PST

FELTON - The septic system that serves the Felton Fair Shopping Center on Graham Hill Road leaked on Thursday due to mechanical failure caused by a stuck float inside the tank, according to officials with the county Environmental Health Department.

The problem was reported before noon, and was fixed within a few hours, Heather Reynolds of Environmental Health said.

Reynolds said the stuck float caused the tank to fill and overflow.

She said this is the first reported problem since the new treatment system was installed less than two years ago.

A local resident saw the sewage overflowing behind Mama Mia's restaurant and called county officials.

Tough new septic tank regulations proposed

Big Valley sanitation worker Charles Whitmore, left, talks with homeowner Harold Kay while servicing his septic tank Thursday at Kay’s home near Anderson’s Shasta District Fair grounds. The state Water Resources Control Board will meet Thursday to discuss statewide regulation changes for septic tank owners, including having their tanks inspected every five years.

The state Water Resources Control Board is holding five public meetings statewide this month and six more in January before a Feb. 9 public hearing in Sacramento. To submit written comments about the proposal's draft environmental impact report, send by Feb. 9 to:

Mail: State Water Resources Control Board, Division of Water Quality, attn: Todd Thompson, P.E., 1001 I St., 15th floor, P.O. Box 2231, Sacramento, CA 95812.

Learn more

The state's proposed septic tank discharge regulations, draft environmental impact report and related information are online at

What's my part?

If your Shasta County property uses or will use a septic tank, here's what the state Water Resources Control Board's proposed regulations would mandate, what its estimated costs to property owners are, and what's required now:

Proposed: Inspection of existing septic tanks every five years by a qualified service provider. Cost: $325. Currently: No regular inspections, except before a property's sale.

Proposed: Lab testing of well water every five years on lots with wells and septic systems; reporting of results electronically to the state. Cost: $325. Currently: No regular tests; sometimes required before a property's sale.

Proposed: For septic tanks within 600 feet of surface water that doesn't meet state standards: a professional determination on whether the septic system is to blame; if so, required septic system retrofits or supplemental treatments (mechanisms added to the systems, such as fan filters). The state estimates this scenario could apply to just 25 existing Shasta County septic systems. Cost: $45,000 or $35,000, respectively. Currently: No requirement; substandard water bodies still being identified.

Proposed: For future septic systems and for major replacements of existing, failing systems, at least 3 feet of soil between groundwater and the bottom of a leach field trench, or 2 feet for systems with supplemental treatments. Cost: Varies with soil conditions and groundwater levels, can be $10,000 or more. Currently: Shasta County allows a trench depth of 12 inches.

Sources: State Water Resources Control Board; Shasta County Environmental Health.


Harold Kay has needed his rural Shasta County home's septic tank serviced just twice in 18 years - most recently on Thursday - but if proposed state regulations gain approval, that wouldn't be enough.

His almost 8-acre property behind Anderson's Shasta District Fair grounds would need its septic tank inspected every five years, and a test of the homestead's well water would be required just as frequently.

The total estimated cost of $650 every five years was news to Kay.

"Wow," he said, but added that protecting his community's groundwater is important, too. "We don't want to insure our cars and smog our cars, but we know we have to do it for the betterment of society."

Kay's is one of 31,885 Shasta County households that could face expensive new state regulations proposed for septic tank systems starting in July 2010, county Environmental Health Division Manager Marci McEwen said. That's about 40 percent of the county's 78,137 homes, she said.

"This is at a time when people are already struggling with what they can afford," she said.

On Thursday, Shasta County will host one of five statewide public meetings on the proposed rules this month.

The regulations would require well tests and septic tank inspections every five years and more space between trench lines and groundwater for future or failing septic systems. In some rare cases, entirely new systems or retrofits may be required, costing as much as $45,000.

The proposed regulations have raised some red flags in McEwen's office. The rules are based on case studies done in just two counties, Merced and Los Angeles, she said. Their soils and groundwater aren't comparable to Shasta County's, and they don't use as many septic systems as there are in Shasta, McEwen said.

"In general, we feel that because of the way the regulations are written that it would have more of an impact on rural counties in Northern California than is stated in the draft EIR," she said, referring to the Environmental Impact Report the state is seeking public comments on for its proposal.

Some Shasta County groundwater is very close to the surface. But that water is isolated from drinking water, which is tapped from water reservoirs deeper underground, McEwen said.

The proposed state regulations don't differentiate between the two water levels, or whether one is impermeable to the other, McEwen said. The regulations would require 3 feet of soil between groundwater and the bottom of leach field trenches, rather than the 12-inch minimum acceptable now.

But depending on how high a property's water table is, its owner may have no choice but to install advanced, pressurized systems that can be twice as expensive as a conventional gravity-flow installation costing $4,000 or $5,000, McEwen said.

"It's going to be more difficult for Shasta County to comply with these regulations due to our perched (close to the surface) water tables," she said.

As for the frequency of inspections, two septic tank servicers in Shasta County say they already recommend pumping every five years, and sometimes every three.

The need often depends on the size of a household, but delaying maintenance is unwise regardless, said James Fawnsworth, manager of Al's Septic Service.

"I've seen little old ladies living alone go for 10 years, and the tank is just full of water. But if you're a family of four ... I could see it creating problems," he said.

Dominic DiNino, a real estate agent, said he's worried about the regulations driving up prices for his clients. One property in escrow now will require a $5,000 septic tank installation, but the buyers won't be ready to build for five or six years.

McEwen said if owners gain a septic system installation permit while the county's current regulations apply, they won't need to adhere to the proposed regulations, which wouldn't take effect until July 2010 if adopted. However, she reminds property owners that permits are good for only one year, though they can be renewed for another year if installation has begun.

Thursday's 7 p.m. meeting in the Shasta County Board of Supervisors chambers is part of the state's gathering of public comments for the proposal's draft environmental impact report. The comment period ends Feb. 9 with a hearing in Sacramento.

Responses to the comments will be written into a final report and undergo another public comment period set for August, state documents show.

Septic Tank Care and Maintenance
A septic tank is essentially a miniature natural waste treatment plant. It works by holding water and wastes in an enclosed area so that bacteria can go to work on the solids in it and break them down into liquids and gasses. Septic systems are the most widely used type of waste disposal throughout rural and suburban United States areas. The septic system in your home is one of the vital parts of your property.

Without a functioning septic system, you can’t even legally sell your home – so it makes sense to maintain and care for it properly.

Proper septic tank care involves preventive maintenance and common sense precautions. To keep your septic system in top working order, you should follow some simple rules.

1. Periodic pumping and cleaning of your septic tank is a necessary maintenance step. If the tank isn’t drained and cleaned on a regular basis, the sludge of solids in the bottom will eventually overflow into the leaching field, clogging it and causing backups and odor, not to mention a health hazard. Most experts recommend having the septic tank cleaned every 2-3 years. If there’s a foul odor around the septic tank, or if it’s clogging and overflowing, it may need to be cleaned sooner.

2. Be careful what you flush. Anything that the bacteria in the septic system can’t digest will be left to clog it up. The fewer solids that get flushed, the happier your septic tank will be.

3. Use a toilet paper that degrades easily to avoid a buildup of solids that will clog your septic system so that you need to have it pumped sooner. High wet strength toilet paper that doesn’t break down easily in water is harder for your septic tank to deal with.

4. Conserve water. The more waste goes into your septic system, the sooner you’ll have to have it pumped. Set your toilet to use less water with each flush, or switch to a toilet the uses 1-2 gallons of water per flush.

5. By the same token, avoid overloading your septic system. It needs time to deal with wastes and fluids if it’s going to do so efficiently. Don’t run the dishwasher and washing machine at the same time that someone is showering, or do all the family laundry in one day.

6. Avoid pouring grease or oil down the toilet or your drains, and reduce the use of the garbage disposal.

7. Don’t overdose on the detergents, soaps and other chemicals to avoid killing the bacteria that do all the dirty work.

8. Your septic tank doesn’t need an additive, but a once a month treatment with a natural drain and septic tank cleaner (Drain Line and Septic Tank Cleaner) can help keep drains and pipes running efficiently and clear away the gunk that collects along the insides of pipes.

Do be very careful of the septic tank products that you choose. Avoid those with lye or other caustic ingredients that can do more harm than good.


Tough new septic tank regulations proposed

Photo by Greg Barnette / Record Searchlight

Big Valley sanitation worker Charles Whitmore, left, talks with homeowner Harold Kay while servicing his septic tank Thursday at Kay’s home near Anderson’s Shasta District Fair grounds. The state Water Resources Control Board will meet Thursday to discuss statewide regulation changes for septic tank owners, including having their tanks inspected every five years.

If you're going

What: Public workshop on proposed state septic tank regulations.

When: 7 p.m. Thursday.

Where: Shasta County Administration Center, Board of Supervisors chambers, 1450 Court St., Redding.

Send a letter

The state Water Resources Control Board is holding five public meetings statewide this month and six more in January before a Feb. 9 public hearing in Sacramento. To submit written comments about the proposal's draft environmental impact report, send by Feb. 9 to:

Mail: State Water Resources Control Board, Division of Water Quality, attn: Todd Thompson, P.E., 1001 I St., 15th floor, P.O. Box 2231, Sacramento, CA 95812.

What's my part?

If your Shasta County property uses or will use a septic tank, here's what the state Water Resources Control Board's proposed regulations would mandate, what its estimated costs to property owners are, and what's required now:

Proposed: Inspection of existing septic tanks every five years by a qualified service provider. Cost: $325. Currently: No regular inspections, except before a property's sale.

Proposed: Lab testing of well water every five years on lots with wells and septic systems; reporting of results electronically to the state. Cost: $325. Currently: No regular tests; sometimes required before a property's sale.

Proposed: For septic tanks within 600 feet of surface water that doesn't meet state standards: a professional determination on whether the septic system is to blame; if so, required septic system retrofits or supplemental treatments (mechanisms added to the systems, such as fan filters). The state estimates this scenario could apply to just 25 existing Shasta County septic systems. Cost: $45,000 or $35,000, respectively. Currently: No requirement; substandard water bodies still being identified.

Proposed: For future septic systems and for major replacements of existing, failing systems, at least 3 feet of soil between groundwater and the bottom of a leach field trench, or 2 feet for systems with supplemental treatments. Cost: Varies with soil conditions and groundwater levels, can be $10,000 or more. Currently: Shasta County allows a trench depth of 12 inches.

Sources: State Water Resources Control Board; Shasta County Environmental Health.


Harold Kay has needed his rural Shasta County home's septic tank serviced just twice in 18 years - most recently on Thursday - but if proposed state regulations gain approval, that wouldn't be enough.

His almost 8-acre property behind Anderson's Shasta District Fair grounds would need its septic tank inspected every five years, and a test of the homestead's well water would be required just as frequently.

The total estimated cost of $650 every five years was news to Kay.

"Wow," he said, but added that protecting his community's groundwater is important, too. "We don't want to insure our cars and smog our cars, but we know we have to do it for the betterment of society."

Kay's is one of 31,885 Shasta County households that could face expensive new state regulations proposed for septic tank systems starting in July 2010, county Environmental Health Division Manager Marci McEwen said. That's about 40 percent of the county's 78,137 homes, she said.

"This is at a time when people are already struggling with what they can afford," she said.

On Thursday, Shasta County will host one of five statewide public meetings on the proposed rules this month.

The regulations would require well tests and septic tank inspections every five years and more space between trench lines and groundwater for future or failing septic systems. In some rare cases, entirely new systems or retrofits may be required, costing as much as $45,000.

The proposed regulations have raised some red flags in McEwen's office. The rules are based on case studies done in just two counties, Merced and Los Angeles, she said. Their soils and groundwater aren't comparable to Shasta County's, and they don't use as many septic systems as there are in Shasta, McEwen said.

"In general, we feel that because of the way the regulations are written that it would have more of an impact on rural counties in Northern California than is stated in the draft EIR," she said, referring to the Environmental Impact Report the state is seeking public comments on for its proposal.

Some Shasta County groundwater is very close to the surface. But that water is isolated from drinking water, which is tapped from water reservoirs deeper underground, McEwen said.

The proposed state regulations don't differentiate between the two water levels, or whether one is impermeable to the other, McEwen said. The regulations would require 3 feet of soil between groundwater and the bottom of leach field trenches, rather than the 12-inch minimum acceptable now.

But depending on how high a property's water table is, its owner may have no choice but to install advanced, pressurized systems that can be twice as expensive as a conventional gravity-flow installation costing $4,000 or $5,000, McEwen said.

"It's going to be more difficult for Shasta County to comply with these regulations due to our perched (close to the surface) water tables," she said.

As for the frequency of inspections, two septic tank servicers in Shasta County say they already recommend pumping every five years, and sometimes every three.

The need often depends on the size of a household, but delaying maintenance is unwise regardless, said James Fawnsworth, manager of Al's Septic Service.

"I've seen little old ladies living alone go for 10 years, and the tank is just full of water. But if you're a family of four ... I could see it creating problems," he said.

Dominic DiNino, a real estate agent, said he's worried about the regulations driving up prices for his clients. One property in escrow now will require a $5,000 septic tank installation, but the buyers won't be ready to build for five or six years.

McEwen said if owners gain a septic system installation permit while the county's current regulations apply, they won't need to adhere to the proposed regulations, which wouldn't take effect until July 2010 if adopted. However, she reminds property owners that permits are good for only one year, though they can be renewed for another year if installation has begun.

Thursday's 7 p.m. meeting in the Shasta County Board of Supervisors chambers is part of the state's gathering of public comments for the proposal's draft environmental impact report. The comment period ends Feb. 9 with a hearing in Sacramento.

Responses to the comments will be written into a final report and undergo another public comment period set for August, state documents show.

Anonymous said...

There are important omissions in your article.
The septic tank process comes in two parts, what happends in the tank and what happens in the drain field!
The tank uses an airless system, where the microbes in our waste digest our waste and turn it into mainly methane gas.
Things like salt/sodium, bleach, alcohol - all antiseptics stall the process and lead to the buildup of waste in the tank, which may then require emptying.
Avoid putting antiseptics in the tank and it will go on for years.
The drainfield completes the task using the microbes in the soil to clean the remaining liquid.
Again salt/sodium cause problems with the soil making it compact and preventing the liquid passing through.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Supreme Court Adopts COA Dissent Saying Justifiable Reliance on MLS Listing Is A Jury Question

In Crawford V. Mintz, the COA majority reversed a jury verdict and held that defendants real estate agent and broker did not negligently represent a home's features because plaintiffs were not justified in relying on an MLS listing that stated the home was connected to the city sewer. Plaintiffs discovered that the home actually had a septic tank when it backed up and flooded their backyard. The jury awarded them the cost of repairing the sewer system and connecting the home to the city sewer. The COA majority said that reliance was not justifiable because plaintiffs received the MLS listing not from defendants but from their own realtor, and because plaintiffs' realtor omitted the disclaimer "Information Deemed Reliable But Not Guaranteed" from the listing. Judge Steelman dissented, arguing that despite any disclaimers, the information given to plaintiffs was false, and the trial court properly submitted the issue of justifiable reliance to the jury. The Supreme Court reversed the COA per curiam for the reasons stated in Judge Steelman's dissent.



Tips for maintaining your septic systems

The state recommends these seasonal maintenance tips for people with private wastewater treatments systems:

·  If you live in an area without a natural windbreak, you may want to consider installing a snow fence. If you added a layer of mulch over the area, the snow fence will help keep the mulch in place and will trap snow.

·  Spread out your laundry schedule to one warm/hot load per day. Use normal amounts of water — the warmer the better.

·  Don't leave water running all the time to prevent freezing. A slow trickle could freeze, while a steady stream could overload the system with water.

·  Don't add antifreeze to the system.

·  If you will be gone for more than a day or two, have someone visit and use water regularly. If you will be gone for an extended period (weeks or months), pumping the tank before leaving may be a good option, but always consult with a professional before deciding to have a tank pumped.

·  Fix any leaky plumbing.

·  Keep all vehicles (including ATVs and snowmobiles) and high-traffic people or animal activities off the system, all year.

·  Make sure all risers, inspection pipes and manholes have tight covers. Adding insulation is a good idea. Unsecured covers represent a grave danger to children.

·  If any seeping or ponding occurs, contact an onsite professional.

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Dozens of bulls were lined up, ready to be slaughtered at Al-Musyawah Mosque in Kelapa Gading, North Jakarta, last week on the Islamic Day of Sacrifice. Next to the bulls, about 20 goats were pulling against the ropes that bound them, somehow sensing danger.

The mosque committee for the sacrifice day had put a temporary tent up over a large cement slab, housing a septic tank.

Volunteering medical doctor Dr. Ahmar was the busiest person at the mosque that day, his white T-shirt stained with blood from sacrificed animals.

"We know blood and other waste products are not good, especially if we let them flow directly into public drains, causing pollution. That is why we installed this septic tank," Dr. Ahmar, an event committee member, told The Jakarta Post, recently.

Before they had the septic tank, Ahmar says, the committee faced the usual problem of managing animal waste on the sacrifice day.

"It works just like septic tanks for toilets in our home. The soil absorbs the waste naturally," he says.

The committee members would call out the owner of the next animal to be sacrificed. The bull or goat would be positioned close to the open septic tank, where the prayers were recited before the ritual was completed.

The committee would then skin the animal and divide the meat for distribution to the needy, before dumping the waste products, such as dung and blood, into the tank before washing down the cement slab and calling out another name.

"We do the same thing every Muslim day of sacrifice here. We slaughter the animals and give the meat away to less fortunate people," Dr Ahmar says.

Naniek Susetijonarti, a veterinarian from the city fishery and husbandry agency, says people in Jakarta are not allowed to slaughter animals such as cattle, pigs and goats inside the city. Only designated slaughterhouses, mostly on the outskirt of the city, are allowed to slaughter animals.

"The Muslim day of sacrifice is an exception because so many people want to conduct the ritual," Naniek says.

Unfortunately, in some parts of the city like Penjaringan, North Jakarta and Palmerah, West Jakarta, a lot of people throw animal waste products into the river or public drains.

"We don't have a proper place to slaughter cattle. We have to slaughter them on the street," Ridwan, a resident of Palmerah, says.

"Here, people just throw everything into the river, not only the waste from the animals. It is usual," Rosyid, another resident, says.

Naniek says people must scrutinize the waste products of animals.

"We have to split up the entrails from blood and another waste products because the entrails contain bacteria," Naniek says.

The agency held a short course several months ago to inform the public how to properly dispose of the waste on Idul Adha.

"It seems only a few people implemented it," Naniek says

NEVADA COUNTY — Local homeowners, contractors and Realtors are worried proposed state regulations for septic tanks could cause an unneeded financial burden on people already struggling with the recession.

A proposal to change regulations could affect 25,000 households in Nevada County, including Truckee, and more than 1.2 million in California.

At a special meeting held last week, more than 150 people filled the board chambers of the Eric Rood Administration Center to hear and comment on an update by the state water resources board.

“They took some pretty harsh criticism from citizens," said Wesley Nicks, director of the county's environmental health department.

The meeting attracted officials from governments in Nevada County, from Sierra, Plumas and Placer county governments, contractors, septic industry workers, rural homeowners, Realtors, hydrologists and farmers.

“I was impressed by the intelligence of the questions and the diversity of the questions,” Nicks said. “There were certainly some people that were angry.”

Isolated incidents of ground water contamination have occurred in Nevada County’s low-lying areas, but septic tanks have never posed a serious health risk here, Nicks said.

“It does occur on occasion. We haven’t seen a big influx of problems with systems that would justify (more) regulations,” he said.

People who spoke at the meeting voiced satisfaction with the way the county monitors septic tanks and saw no need for the state to add additional regulations, Nicks said.

“At the present time these systems are serving Californians very well. The horror stories are few and far between," said Doug Donesky, a local resident who also serves as district 4 planning commissioner.

In coming weeks Nicks will send his written comments to the state water board commenting on its draft environmental review of the proposed changes.

He said his comments will mirror local citizens’ concerns. A number of similar public workshops are scheduled in other rural Northern Californian counties this month.

“We’ll wait and hear what the state does with it,” Nicks said. “The water board will then mitigate its plan, change the draft regulations or provide further explanation,” Nicks said.

If signed into law, homeowners would be required to hire professionals to inspect septic tanks and test private wells every five years, a task that could cost land owners thousands of dollars.

Developers could also be hit with new costs associated with installing equipment.

Rural counties are hardest hit by the proposed regulations, because a higher percentage of homeowners use private wells and septic tanks rather than municipal water and sewer.

Plans for changes to septic tank regulations originated in Santa Monica and Malibu, where some leaky tanks leached human waste into the Pacific Ocean.

Donesky questioned why an urban area in the state was affecting rural counties with different geology.

“Somehow that morphed into ‘let’s go to Nevada County and Sierra County where the population is nil,’” he said. “Why this big umbrella?”

If you have a septic tank, you probably have a love/hate relationship with it. Most of the time it saves you money, because you do not have to pay regularly for water reclamation services. However, when something goes wrong, it can be a costly and messy affair. People with septic tanks need to make sure they are properly maintaining their tanks, and they can do so with these basic tips.

Pump the Tank when Needed

You need to pump your septic tank regularly. The regularity of pumping depends on the size of the tank and the size of the residence. Experts recommend a typical home with a 1,000-gallon tank should be pumped every three to five years. If your tank is smaller, you will need to pump it more often. Pumping the tank removes the solid build up that is an inevitable part of the septic process.

One way to stretch the time you can go between septic tank pumpings is to increase the amount of solid waste that is destroyed by the bacteria in the system. You can do this by installing a Fixed Activated Sludge Treatment (FAST) septic system in your home. FAST systems create the ideal environment for the bacteria that are necessary to decompose much of the solid waste you send into the system. FAST systems house these bacteria in an underground, aerated, self-cleaning reactor chamber that allows for optimal bacteria growth. This unique system leads to a 90-95 percent removal of total suspended solids from the waste water.

Keep Water Flow Even

Too much water and too little water sent through a septic tank can cause problems. To keep the tank running efficiently, keep the water flow as balanced as possible. Too much water, such as what you may send through the system if you are doing extensive laundry, can put more water through the system than it was built to handle. This means that it can flood the system. Also, too much water flow can push some of the solids that have settled into the bottom of the tank into the leaching field, causing clogs and environmental damage. Times of low water usage can lead to the death of the bacteria in the system.

Keeping water flow even is not always possible. There will be times when you need to use more water, and other times, such as when you are out of town, that you will not be using as much water. The unique design of FLASH systems makes them capable of handling a changing water volume.

Avoiding Nitrogen Contamination

The process that occurs inside the septic tank produces nitrogen as a byproduct. Too much nitrogen in groundwater leads to contamination that is when it reaches human drinking water. This means that your septic tank could be a very real environmental hazard.

The bacteria in the septic tank work to neutralize much of this nitrogen. For this reason, you need to make sure that the bacteria are functioning properly. Avoid sending high amounts of household cleaners and other strong chemicals down the drain, as these can kill some of the bacteria in the system, causing more nitrogen to build up and leach into the environment. It is not possible to avoid sending these products down the drain completely, but avoid excessive use. Also, avoid using powdered detergents in a septic system.

If you have a FAST system, you will not need to be as concerned with nitrogen buildup. The FAST system involves multiple processes when treating wastewater, including bio-chemical, physical, and biological processes. As a result, the system greatly reduces nitrogen levels in the water that is sent to the leach field.


Pools of sewage affecting health of residents

By Sunita Menon, Staff Reporter
Published: December 16, 2008, 23:30

Dubai: Large pools of stagnant sewage water, infected with mosquitoes and flies, are making life miserable for people living in an area of the Al Quoz Industrial Area-3.

The majority of people living in the area are labourers who say they have been living with the stench for the last couple of months.

Gulf News has been told that Dubai Municipality staff have visited the area but according to residents they have seen no improvement in the situation.

It has been claimed that one of the reasons for the pools of sewage is that the companies responsible for the labour accommodation have been pumping sewage from their septic tanks into the open.

This is being done to save the cost of paying for sewage tankers. Tanker operators have recently increased their fees for making each trip to the Al Aweer Sewage Plant

Operators have defended the increase in the cost, saying the money charged is nothing compared to the number of hours they have to spend waiting outside the Al Aweer Sewage Plant.


The tankers charge Dh2,000 for a 10,000 tonne tanker and operators say they spend up to eight hours waiting at the sewage plant.


Mohammad, a labourer, said: "It is done after midnight. It happens every other day.


"I have tried to telephone the DubaiMunicipality but we never get to the right official because our calls are transferred from one person to another. We got fed-up with that entire exercise."

The alleged violations by the companies come despite the civic body increasing fines for violators from Dh10,000 to Dh100, 000 in addition to confiscating of their tankers for a month.


Labourers have complained that they are suffering from itchy feet as a result of having to wade through the sewage.


"It has also become impossible to for us to go to the nearest mosque for prayers and instead we have some of us offering prayers inside our premises or in a small patch of dry and clean area located close our accommodation wall," said Rameez, another worker.


The workers said rain had exacerbated the problem.


Residents have also claimed that another reason for the overflowing septic tanks was because some labour accommodations have too many people living in the rooms.


Hashim, an Egyptian worker, said: "If a particular septic tank is built to accommodate the waste for 700 people it will definitely overflow if it is required to handle waste for a thousand people.


"The only way by which the companies can avoid the septic tanks from overflowing is by taking the services of sewage tankers, which in the current circumstances they are avoiding.

Situation worse

"The problem of overflowing septic tanks became worse from the time the tanker operators had increased their charges per trip. More trips means paying up more money."


Supervisors at a couple of accommodations located in the affected area denied having to do anything with the overflowing sewage and were quick to pass on the blame to tanker operators.


A supervisor, who did not want to be named, said: "The tanker operators come to this area at after midnight and empty the sewage filled tankers. They do this to avoid long waiting period at the Al Aweer Sewage plant."


Seeping sewage turns beloved yard into a nightmare

The homeowners blame the county for letting the builder put in an ‘innovative' system.

By Bruce Henderson


Sewage bubbles up in Larry Deckbar's backyard in Mint Hill when it rains. Deckbar says MecklenburgCounty never should have allowed the builder, Hobart Smith, to install the septic system on the property, and fears the failing system will devalue his property. DAVIE HINSHAW –

This week's rain, after months of dry weather, was welcomed across most of MecklenburgCounty. But not by Larry and Carol Deckbar, whose Mint Hill backyard turns into a soupy health hazard.  The septic system for their 2-year-old home doesn't work as it should. Sewage puddles in the grass when it rains, and sometimes when it doesn't.For this they blame, in large part, MecklenburgCounty officials. 

Long before the couple moved in, the county deemed their lot unsuitable for a conventional septic system. At the homebuilder's request, the county reclassified the lot as suitable for an “innovative” system – the one that failed.

The Deckbars say the county didn't follow its own rules in evaluating the lot. They're balking at a proposed repair, involving an even more rarely used septic system, that their consultant says would be illegal and wouldn't work.

After nearly two years of the bubbling brew, they appealed for help Tuesday night to the board of county commissioners. The couple say they've spent $10,000 on consultants and attorneys, and they fear their $466,000 house has lost value.

“Who wants to buy a house without a working septic system?” said Larry Deckbar, a computer-equipment salesman.

Commissioner Bill James, who represents the area, thinks the solution is to connect the Deckbars' neighborhood to a distant Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities sewer main, which carries an estimated cost of $202,000.

“I agree that it's an intolerable situation,” James said. “The question is who is willing to write the check to fix it.”

County officials say they made no error in permitting the septic system. They and homebuilder Hobart Smith Homes say they're committed to finding a solution.

In permitting decisions, county officials consider six factors, including topography, available space and soil characteristics, wetness and depth.

Mecklenburg's preponderance of dense red clay means many sites – like the Deckbars' – are labeled “provisionally suitable” for septic systems, said Lisa Corbitt, who manages the county's groundwater and wastewater program.

County warnings that systems installed on such sites aren't guaranteed to work – included on the approval for the Deckbars' lot – no longer appear on reclassifications.

In the past two years, county records show, only 13 percent of septic-tank permits were for conventional systems that use gravel-lined trenches.

New system designs often take up less space, allowing installation on lots that are small or have limited areas of suitable soil. Corbitt said most of the new systems work as well or better than conventional systems.

“It's not like it's the kiss of death if it's provisionally suitable,” said Hobart Smith president H.C. Smith Jr. “(Deckbar) is taking it the wrong way.”

Smith said his company is working with the Deckbars, county and state staff to find a solution. But the couple argue that no septic system should ever have been permitted on their lot.

A state soil scientist who evaluated their property wrote that “soils in this area are unsuitable for subsurface sewage treatment and disposal systems.” He referred, Larry Deckbar said, to the location of the system in their backyard.

Leak view in Sonapur: When green is not in

By Faisal Masudi and Mohammed Al Khan, Staff reporters


 Authorities have fined several companies for apparently failing to take steps to stop a sewage leak in a labour camp in Sonapur.

Parts of the camp, home to thousands of expatriate workers, have been submerged in sewage ever since septic tanks in the area overflowed several months ago. Septic tanks are usually emptied by sewage tankers, but according to workers who live in the affected area, many camp owners have stopped paying for the service.

Tanker operators are allegedly demanding higher fees because they have to work extra hours and make more trips to
Dubai’s only sewage treatment plant in Al Awir.

Some accommodations in Sonapur are overcrowded – with up to eight people per room – putting pressure on the plumbing system. There is no direct sewage pipe network between Sonapur and Al Awir.

“The Drainage and Irrigation Section has no jurisdiction over this issue,” said Abdul Majid Sifaee, head of that section at

“Our jurisdiction only extends as far as the drainage network. There is no drainage network in that area and therefore we cannot take any action. The responsible party would be the environmental department’s Public Health and Safety Unit.”

Action taken

Redha Salman, Head of the Public Health and Safety Unit at
DubaiMunicipality, said they are aware of the situation and have already fined erring companies for violating public health standards. “We have fined four or five companies last month. Some of this (flooding) may be due to rainwater which seeped into the septic tank. We will reassess the situation to see if more severe action needs to be taken,” said Salman.

Worst hit

Streets 18, 19 and 23 have been worst hit, with waste water knee-deep in some areas.

“This is not flood water from the recent rains – it is raw sewage and it has been like this for months,” said a Bangladeshi labourer.

“When a truck or bus drives by, the ripples carry the sewage straight into our rooms,” an Indian worker added.

The sewage overflows mainly from three housing units on Street 23, another worker said.

“We feel like we are in prison - we can’t go outside. We have to walk on edges and over stepping stones to cross the street,” said a resident of Community 264.

The camp is also riddled with smaller pools of sewage, made by tankers illegally dumping waste. Many truck drivers don’t want to wait long hours for their turn to discharge their tanker’s load at the treatment plant. They instead dump sewage wherever they can -- down rainwater drains, on city roads or out in the desert. Some of the sewage recently made its way through a storm drain into a public beach in

The otherwise pristine coastline next to the Dubai Offshore Sailing Club was lately found to be contaminated with faeces and was shut down by the municipality. Authorities said the spill has been cleared up, but the beach remains closed.

New waste treatment design scoops world gold medal

A new model of septic tank, specifically designed for use in urban areas by Vietnamese inventors has been awarded a gold medal by the World Intellectual Property Organisation.

The award-winning design was jointly developed by Hoang Duc Thao, Director of the Ba Ria-Vung Tau Drainage and Urban Development One-Member Limited Liability Co., and his partners.

The medal was presented during an international science exhibition that took place in Seoul, the Republic of Korea, from Dec. 10-15, according to an announcement by the Vietnam Fund for Supporting Technological Creations (Vifotec) on Dec. 19.

As many as 38 countries and 500 scientific organisations around the world had submitted projects for display at the biennial expo.

(Source: VNA)

A toddler brought to Valley Baptist Medical Center in critical condition did not survive through the morning.
The 3-year old boy died after falling down a septic tank, last night.
Cameron County Sheriff Deputies say, child's play turned deadly.
They say, the boy fell down the septic tank while playing a game of Hide-N-Seek with his teenage sister.
It happened right outside the family's home on Oklahoma Street.
News Center 23's Kenny Lopez was the only reporter on the scene.
As a child, everyone loves to play hide-n-go seek, but for one baby boy, it turned devastating.
We went back to where it all took place, and spoke with a neighbor, who says her heart and prayers go out to the family.
"So sad, so sad that a three year old died this way, in a septic tank."
Neighbor, Olivia Guerrero says, as a mother herself she can only imagine how tough this 3-year old's death must be on the family.
"It's hard as a parent to lose a child, and I know we try to keep our eyes on them, but sometimes it doesn't happen that way."
Last night, EMS cres pulled the baby out, and say he didn't have a pulse.
In the ambulance ride over to the hospital, they were able to revive him, but sadly hed died this morning.
Today, signs of the baby's fall still remain in the septic tank.
"It could've had a cement thing on top or something like that."
This is about a 16-foot pole, and it's what investigators used last night to figure out how deep this septic tank is.
News Center 23 measured how deep the setptic tank is and found that it's almost 8 feet.
Guerrero says, "The water was over his head and I'm sure he didn't know how to float or swim or anything, it's a deep septic tank."
"It's hard to think that somebody in a time like this. It's very hard to lose a child, so my heart goes out to them."
The Cameron County Sheriff's Department continues to investigate.
At this time, it is not known if the family of the child will face any charges.

Decking the halls is not always joyous

By Mary Lou Kelsey
Lebanon Daily News

I have completely avoided decorating my halls. I started, but there are no boughs of holly. My spouse gave up on all boughs. I felt I deserved boughs as a mother’s prerogative. Many, many years ago, he found that tinsel was also unfit. That was the year after the deadly tinsel-chucking party. Tree-trimming guests got carried away with the delicate art of applying tinsel to the tree and they ended up having the Christmas tree-trimming equivalent of a food fight. Clumps of bright tinsel were everywhere, except on the tree.

That was also the year of the even deadlier — and costlier— septic tank backup which occurred, of course, when everyone wants a septic tank backup — on Christmas Eve. Invited guests were still there at three in the old a.m. Then the sewer went down. Oddly, none of the guests were still there at 5 a.m. That’s one way to get everyone to go home.

Our Christmas gatherings got neither smaller nor any more practical. We did learn to check the septic system every year to avoid future meltdowns. We had to move some decorations to make space for more folks. And guests began bringing new decorations, some of which were not strictly for the Christmas season. One year we awoke the morning after and were thrilled to see a pair of bright pink, plastic lawn flamingos, caught in a compromising position, on our front lawn. The neighbors were not quite as thrilled.

My mother adored Christmas decorations. I adore Christmas decorations. But I

do not get to adore them outside the house, which may have something to do with the fact that my husband hates to set them up outdoors. One year, I think that he purposely broke the lighted reindeer I had placed in front of  the house so he would never have to put them out again. This year I am considering borrowing the reindeer from my neighbor across the street, although the odds are pretty good that I would get caught. It was just a thought. It’s not a sin just to consider a thought, is it? President Jimmy Carter didn’t think so when he talked about it in Playboy magazine.

One year we purchased a colorful sign that clearly read “Happy Holidays” when we saw it in the store. Much to our dismay, when we hung it on the front of the house and turned on the lights, it sure seemed to look like an ad for a house of ill repute.

There is one grand problem being the daughter of a woman

who loved Christmas decorations. She spent many happy hours making sure her house was property decorated, both inside and out. Each year she bought so many new ornaments that she ended up having to give away the older ones. They were good decorations and she found it hard to part with them. That dilemma was resolved by giving them to me. They were not my favorite decorations, but you don’t deny your mother the joy of giving you her old Christmas ornaments. My mate was not quite as delighted by the prospect of the vast additional decorating to be done.

The problem was emphasized by the fact that he was also elected as a head packhorse to pick up and deliver these precious items to me. Thus came all of the Christmas decorations and ornaments to my house. How about next year we have an exchange?

Sewage water is potentially harmful for human health. The damage caused by sewage water is dependent on its contents. Sewage water can damage property as well as health of those residing in the house. Since sewage water contains many harmful contaminants and pollutants, it would be best to hire a professional sewage damage cleanup. Quick action against overflowing sewage water will help you contain the sewage damage. The longer you take to call sewage damage cleanup experts, the more damage you’ll have to pay.

Sewage damage cleanup plays an important role in protecting the health of concerned people in case of sewage overflow. Water can carry a variety of microorganisms with it that can be very harmful to others. Sewage damage cleanup experts are aware of the best way to clean up sewage water along with restoring the house to a dry state and retrieve as much valuable property as possible. Sewage water often contains animal or human body waste, which makes it even more harmful. You should never attempt to proceed with this task without wearing proper protection gear.

Sewage damage cleanup experts can decontaminate a house. The decontamination process includes removal of sewage water, cleaning as well as disinfection. Sewage damage cleanup should be called as soon as possible and in case of major sewage flooding, the house should be completely evacuated for the initial stage of decontamination, disinfection and cleaning. You should move into your house only when the sewage has been removed and the house disinfected. After cleaning and disinfecting the house, open all doors and windows for proper ventilation.

You should keep in mind that sewage damage cleanup, must take place in two parts, the physical cleanup and then the chemical disinfection. You should never undertake a sewage cleanup on your own, you should leave it to experts since they have protective gear as well as proper knowledge required for the job to be well done. Slight backflow of sewage water can be cleaned up with the help of mop and disinfectants but for major sewage damage that might be caused by the breakage of septic tank or similar cause, you should call professionals to clean up.

Sewage water can adversely affect the air quality of your house. It generally carries a bad odor that can make breathing very difficult. A sewage damage cleanup should also include dehumidifying, disinfecting and sanitizing the house. There should be no foul odor in the house after a proper sewage damage cleanup.

Sewage water can lead to a variety of diseases like salmonella typhoid, bacillary dysentery, skin infection and Hepatitis A to name a few. It can also cause allergies and nausea. To prevent being affected by sewage water, it might be essential to throw away carpets, cushions mattresses and the like. Carpets can be salvaged in case of water damage but it is very difficult to salvage a carpet from sewage water damage. You should discontinue using any porous material that had been affected by sewage water as they might continue to contain harmful bacteria and virus.

County says no to challenge on No Name ruling

By Steve Estes

The march to electrification of No Name Key hit a snag last week as the State Department of Community Affairs found the land use regulation change that would have permitted electricity to the remote island off Big Pine not in compliance.

Apparently not sure that allowing electrification of the island was the best route at this time, the Monroe Board of County Commissioners Wednesday agreed not to appeal the DCA decision, and to set a public hearing for January 29 to rescind the land use regulation that made the electrification possible.

Residents of No Name Key approached the county commission several months ago, asking that their island be included in the central wastewater collection system being developed for the region.

No Name Key with about 46 homes, as well as about 500 other remote properties, weren’t originally included in the county’s master plan for sewer implementation in what is now called the Cudjoe Regional system, which stretches from Lower Sugarloaf Key to No Name.

As the dialogue progressed, the push began to use the development of sewers for the electrification of the island, which since its original habitation has been powered by solar arrays or generators.

Those residents won their battle in September when the then-seated commission voted 3-2 to introduce a comprehensive land use change that would finally permit public utilities on No Name, as well as a land development regulation implementing that new policy.

The general process for DCA approval is to change policy through a comprehensive plan amendment, and then implement that policy with a land use regulation.

The county is only permitted two windows each calendar year to transmit proposed comprehensive plan changes to DCA. It had used both windows for 2008, so the No Name issue had to wait until January for transmittal.

Unwilling to wait for that, the commission approved the land use regulation, and that’s part of the reason DCA denied approval. DCA opined that the LDR wasn’t in compliance with the comprehensive plan, a plan which hasn’t yet been officially changed.

The existing policy says that Monroe County will discourage the extension of public utilities to islands that fall into the CBRS (Coastal Barrier Resource System) designation, to aid in discouraging more development on islands that are prone to environmental and physical damage from storms.

The proposed policy allowed the extension of central wastewater collection systems and the utilities necessary to achieve that.

The No Name Key Property Owner’s Association, which reportedly represents about 30 of the homeowners on the island, Tuesday filed a legal challenge to the DCA ruling, according to Don Craig, land use consultant.

“We want the county to join with us in the challenge,” said Craig. He said it would present a unified front to the DCA to implement what the commission approved in September.

“The residents will work with the county and DCA to provide wastewater in the cheapest and most efficient manner possible,” said Craig.

The county commission didn’t think it was the best idea to challenge DCA’s ruling and voted 4-1 not to do so.

Commissioner Sylvia Murphy also suggested that the commission take steps to rescind the ordinance allowing utilities at this time. She also wants the commission to scrap the comprehensive land use policy change.

“I want FKAA (Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority) to evaluate as soon as possible wastewater service possibilities for No Name Key,” she said.

That includes all types of approved central systems and on-site systems.

Mayor George Neugent, one of the original dissenting votes against forwarding the land use regulation to DCA, said the BOCC was right where he knew it would be.

“I was adamantly opposed to sending this to DCA (outside normal process) and in an attempt to speed things up, we have found ourselves again back at square one,” he said. “And again we find ourselves meddling in the affairs of the Aqueduct Authority. We have charged them with developing the best plans for central wastewater systems.”

“If the people on No Name Key want electricity and central collection systems, and are willing to pay for it, we need to address that,” he said.

Neugent has long said that sewering No Name Key would be one of the most expensive undertakings per property the county has yet tackled. FKAA has estimated it will take about $57,000 per home to run a central collection system to the homes on the island. That doesn’t include the $600,000 or so in costs to run electricity, nor does it include permitting costs.

Commissioner Mario DiGennaro, who spearheaded the push for the land use change, said he hadn’t had enough time to do research on the DCA denial, and thus was voting to join the appeal. He stated that if the county was probably going to get dragged into the litigation anyway, they might as well join forces with the residents.

The move by the BOCC potentially puts No Name Key residents back at the starting line for central wastewater. Neugent and Murphy have said that the project is too expensive for the county to undertake.

And FKAA officials have said that they won’t begin the planning process for central sewers on No Name Key until the electrification issue is resolved. The presence, or no presence, of electricity will play a large part in what type of systems FKAA recommends for the island to bring it up to the state’s 2010 standards.

The September vote had ruled out low-pressure STEP (Septic Tank Effluent Pump) systems and on-site individual systems, which now appear to be back on the table. Both of those systems don’t require primary power for operation, but instead can be powered by the home’s existing systems.

Should the county rescind its September action in January, only those two types of systems would be available for use on No Name Key.

Property owners had asked for assurances then that the September vote meant they would be connected to a central system, and were told by County Attorney Suzanne Hutton that until the commission began building the system, it could change its collective mind.

The commission changed drastically in November, and apparently so did its collective mindset on the issue.

Wednesday’s vote also doesn’t rule out that No Name Key will receive a central collection system. It depends on the outcome of the FKAA report.


Septic upgrades help protect our waterways

December 25, 2008

Last week Worcester County announced that area residents who own septic systems can receive grant funds to replace or repair their failing septic systems, provided they install grant funded best available technology as part of their system to remove nitrogen.

Today, however, we'd like to shift focus slightly and talk about why these upgrades are so important to protect the environment. We'll also discuss simple steps any resident can take to protect their existing systems.

In recent years, water quality in both the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays has deteriorated. Three major sources -- agricultural runoff, urban runoff and wastewater effluent -- have contributed to this decline by introducing large quantities of phosphorus and nitrogen into our waterways. While the average individual using public sewer is responsible for adding approximately two pounds of nitrogen to the environment annually, the typical person using septic contributes nine pounds during that same period.

Wastewater mixes with the groundwater that flows into streams, rivers and eventually joins with, and that groundwater accounts for more than half of the water in both the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays.

Homeowners who upgrade their systems to reduce the amount of nitrogen entering groundwater can play a significant role in decreasing these environmental pollutants.

Regardless of the type of septic system in use, each homeowner is responsible for maintaining his or her system. All homeowners should have their tanks inspected and pumped regularly to protect their systems.

Other steps to properly maintain and extend the life of a septic system include limiting drain use, purchasing water-saving showerheads, only running full loads of laundry and giving the septic system ample time to process the wastewater between wash loads.

Never discard solid items, such as sanitary supplies and cigarette butts, in the septic tank. Instead, deposit them in the garbage. Keep chemicals, paints, petroleum products, pesticides and medicines out of the tank, since these items kill needed bacteria in the system and can contaminate underground drinking water. Avoid planting trees or bushes within 20 feet of any septic system component or near drain fields, as the roots can breach the system; instead, plant grass.

Redirect downspouts or runoff away from the system or drain field as the water can stress the system. Lastly, don't place heavy objects or permanent structures over the drain field or within 20 feet of any component.

"Septic system failure is a condition whereby the wastewater being discharged is not fully attenuated (filtering the bacteria, viruses and chemicals in wastewater) before discharging into the state's groundwater," said Bob Mitchell, Worcester County Environmental Programs director.

State funds from the Bay Restoration Fund program are available to low-income residents using septic systems to replace or repair their systems.Those who do not meet the criteria for 100 percent funding to upgrade or replace their systems are still eligible for funding for the pretreatment unit. Residents may determine their level of eligibility at

Newsmakers: Septage plant still not fixed


Editor's note: Ninth in a series of stories on the people, places and events that made news in northern Michigan in 2008. To read past newsmaker articles, see

TRAVERSE CITY -- Chris Buday still has Jan. 18, the day officials promised to complete Grand Traverse County's septage treatment facility, posted in his office.

He only wishes he had written the year on it.

"Was it one, two, three years ago? Honestly, I don't remember," said Buday, head of the county's Department of Public Works that oversees operation of the troubled plant.

The $8 million facility opened in May 2005. A month later a tank collapsed and released 150,000 gallons of partially treated waste. An independent investigation found thousands of pieces of structural steel missing from three of the facility's four main buildings, as well as design deficiencies and shoddy workmanship that required over $2 million in repairs.

The plant shut down completely only for two weeks, but more than three years later it's still not fixed. The estimated completion date promised by the design-build team of Gourdie-Fraser Inc. and The Christman Co. is now February 2009.

The septage plant was constructed to end the practice of spreading septic tank waste on farm fields; this October, the county spread almost 400,000 gallons of treated septic tank sludge on local fields.

Buday said final equipment upgrades planned by Gourdie-Fraser, some tweaking of the process, and final state approval should get the county producing a pathogen-free, class A biosolid it can sell.

Getting the plant to run correctly, however, may be the least of the problems for taxpayers in Elmwood, Garfield, East Bay, Peninsula and Acme townships. Their boards guaranteed annual bond payments for the plant.

The facility will lose $3.4 million by 2014, according to an independent analysis recently crafted by accounting firm Plante & Moran and engineering firm URS.

Analysts called for wholesale changes in the way the plant is funded, including annual fees on septic tank owners and special tax assessments levied on property outside of sewer districts.

The basic problem, according to the report, is the plant doesn't receive nearly enough waste to operate efficiently. At the current 12 cents a gallon rate, the plant would need to take in 19 million gallons of septage annually to remain solvent.

The plant currently accepts about 4.5 million gallons of septage each year.

The analysis recommended several cost-cutting options, some of which the county is pursuing, said Wayne Kladder, Acme Township supervisor and chairman of the county Board of Public Works.

The county board, BPW and the townships will meet with the analysts on Jan. 14 to go over the report.

"What happens with that report is extremely important. It just can't sit there," Kladder said.

Buday said volume and revenues were both up this year and he's optimistic the report will help guide them out of the financial hole.

"Are we ending the year perfect? No, but I think the future looks brighter than it did two or three years ago," he said.

It all began slowly on Sunday Evening.
We noticed that the water in our toilet bowl was higher than normal and was taking some time to drop to normal levels. Then Dad came in and asked if we had noticed the issue as he had the same problem. We checked the other two toilets and we knew we "had a problem".
Next morning, Lana did a marathon ring around to find a plumber that could visit us and clean out the septic pipe. Lana called about four and talked to answering machines. Then one answered his own phone and Lana exclaimed, "Wow! A real person!"
"Now, don't get excited yet." was the reply. All the plumbers had long lists and couldn't get to us before Christmas. We had eleven people who couldn't hold on quite that long!
Eventually one lady answered the phone and said, "Hang on, I'll just get him." and Lana grabbed Dad in excitement saying, "He is there! We have hope!"
The plumber arrived mid afternoon and went to work with his "electric eel" which went down the pipe and found the blockage. The plastic spade (pictured) was the culprit. It had been dropped in by "someone" into the access hatch (also pictured), and wedged in the pipe. Our relocator strikes again! $280 later and it was all over.
"Now you're back in business." said the plumber as he left.
"In more ways than one." replied Lana.
But this was only part one!
Unbeknown to us, the release of the blockage caused a wave of muck to rush into the first septic tank. This then surged into the cleansing tank and blocked the exit pipe which is designed to pump out excess water - not muck.
The first we knew of this problem was on Wednesday after lunch when the warning light and alarm on the septic started.
"Opa," Eric informed Dad, ominously, "The warning light is on."
We opened the tank and started a new call around. We needed a pump out of all the muck from  both septic tanks on the day before Christmas. And all the muck disposal venues were closed for Christmas.  Lana eventually got to a local fellow and mentioned we have eleven people here. He explained that he couldn't get it done until after Christmas. Lana then played the "sympathy card", talking about the number of bottoms using the system. He sighed and said, "Everybody should have a toilet - and a telephone."
Lana paused in hope and he continued with a sigh, "Give me your address. Give me half an hour to go down the shop and buy my wife a card and a couple of bottles of red and I'll be out there."
He arrived and cleaned out the tanks, with Dad helping and working together with him. Meanwhile, Dad pulled out the pump and cleaned out the muck from there.  Eventually all was OK and we were once more back in business.  He as supposed to charge us $560, but he only charged us $500.

Having just finished building a new home, I understand the complexity of selecting the proper residential septic system and septic tanks. Balancing cost, building codes, longevity and suitability takes quite a bit of study and expertise.

One system that kept my attention was a complete, self-contained sewage waste water treatment systems from Microfast septic systems that had been designed for all sizes of family homes and vacation property. This residential septic system will biologically consume all organic contaminants in waste water and release
just clear, odorless, water to the environment.

This type seems to be the ideal septic systems for homes on landscaped property or near natural bodies of water such as mine, yet can also be used in the most fragile ecosystems. Environmental protection appeals to me, as it subsequently did to my county’s building inspectors. Because the system is officially approved, it can replace the standard septic tank, reducing backfield requirements and allowing waste water re-usage.

In summary, septic systems can be environmentally friendly, yet effective and economical. FAST biological septic systems can replace conventional septic tanks and sewer lines. The environment benefits because FAST waste water treatment neutralizes septic sewage, consuming contaminants, releasing just air and clear, odorless water. This website details the components, operation, and proper maintenance of an in-ground septic tank and system.

Septic tanks are a necessity if you live in extreme rural areas that aren't supplied with city or county water. You may avoid paying a monthly water bill to the city, but you'll want to save that money toward any future issues with your septic tank. You'll also want to do a few preventative maintenance steps in order to keep your expenses as low as possible.

1. Anything put down your toilets or drains should be bio degradable. Anything that isn't could clog up the pipes and cause a breakage.

2. Only put authorized and safe chemicals down your drains. There are some very toxic chemicals that will either erode the pipes or tanks or cause a fumes problem in your home.

3. Putting too much water through your system can cause it to shut down, too. I know that seems weird, but our research indicates its a concern.

4. Be sure to check reviews on various septic tank treatment you see advertised because they can sometimes be more harmful than they're worth. Dispose of all chemicals properly.

5. If you are not an expert in septic tanks systems, or don't have enough prior experience, then please consult a plumber or other qualified individual before treating the problem yourself. You can often do more harm than good on your own.

6. Don't overload the system with too much food, either. If in doubt throw it in the trash and burn it before clogging your septic system.

7. Pay attention to your leach field so you know if a problem is developing.

8. Follow a regular septic tank maintenance schedule.

With these tips you can help keep your septic costs down and prevent a major disaster in the future.






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