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2004 Annual Conference Proceedings

Hyatt Regency Conference Hotel – Albuquerque, New Mexico
November 7 - 10, 2004

Watertight Septic Tanks: No More Excuses
Eric Ball
In spite of the importance of the septic tank to the onsite industry, tens of thousands of leaky and/or structurally substandard tanks are still installed every year in the U.S. If the onsite wastewater industry is to be taken seriously by the mainstream, quality components must be available beginning with the septic tank, the one component that is common to virtually every system. In order for high quality tanks to proliferate, the following key issues must be addressed: a) The onsite industry must define, understand, and acknowledge the reason why watertight and structurally sound septic tanks are important. b) Current national tank standards must be improved (current standards are sub par) and adopted. c) 100% of all tanks must be water tested in the field during installation.

Field Evaluation of ATU and Packed Bed Filters
James Converse
A comprehensive evaluation of the field performance of aeration systems was conducted over a period ranging from 1 to 12 yrs on a total of 139 sites in Wisconsin. A total of nine different aeration units were evaluated with samples taken from the pump chambers following the aeration device. Parameters measured included BOD5, TSS, nitrogen series, alkalinity, pH, TS, VS, COD, fecal coliform, E. coli and enterococcus along with effluent temperature and dissolved oxygen. The aeration units were divided into 9 types/brands including 3 suspended growth ATUs, 2 attached growth ATUs, single pass sand filter and recirculating sand filters subdivided into 3 categories.

Residential Waste Strength and Sampling Onsite Systems: The Nuts and Bolts
Barbara Rich
This paper looks at the wastewater characteristics of 20 households and compares the effluent quality from the treatment unit discharge pipe versus the pump chamber following the treatment unit. (e.g., the representativeness of grab samples vs the composite in the pump chamber.)

Flow Variation in Design of Advanced Onsite Systems
Adrian Hanson
There is an increase in use of advanced home scale wastewater treatment systems to protect sensitive environmental areas. In the arid southwest these are both shallow ground waters used for drinking water, fractured bedrock areas, and riparian areas. Standard septic tank systems are relatively insensitive to flow variation, but the advanced systems are extremely sensitive to large fluctuations in flow. This paper presents a detailed flow study from 3 homes. It will compare the peaks day during the week as well as hourly peak flows to the typical values presented in engineering design literature. Flow values are measured at the septic tank effluent not coming out of the house so hydraulic damping by the septic tank is accounted for.

Creative Community Design and Wastewater Management
Lorraine Joubert
When planners are aware of the plethora of options available to the wastewater treatment designer, new ways of thinking of community design can follow. This project demonstrates how creative thinking with planning will lead to better systems.

Smarter Land Use with Onsite Systems: One State's Process
Scott Johnstone
In Maine, land areas near existing towns and village centers are often designated for dense development. Many of these areas will likely not be eligible for centralized infrastructure and, as a result of current thinking, will develop into large lots in a dispersed fashion. This project researched the issues, developed technical bulletins, and ultimately developed outreach  materials showing that denser development goals in Maine can largely be accommodated with decentralized infrastructure.

Water Quality versus Process Monitoring: Charles City County, VA Project
Anish Jantrania
Performance monitoring of onsite/decentralized wastewater systems is a key to performance based regulations for such systems. However, can you really afford water quality monitoring program for an onsite or a decentralized wastewater systems? This paper presents an alternative approach to water quality monitoring called process monitoring and presents information on a project that is currently underway to investigate the reliability of this alternative monitoring concept.

Business Aspects of Designing for Treatment of High Strength Wastewater
Frank Aguirre
The assignment of hydraulic and organic loadings that will serve as the basis for a high strength design has a high potential for error, liability of the designer and miscommunication over the responsibilities involved. It also requires skilled salesmanship. This presentation, by a designer who had to learn the hard way, will share his step by step "how to" format.

Wastewater Clusters the Cost Busters
Richard Rose
This paper chronicles the process and highlights efforts in developing community support and
implementing management strategies for onsite wastewater systems, as well as the cost savings realized by an alternative to traditional collection and treatment systems.

Comparison of Primary and Secondary Treated Water in Drip Dispersal
John Buchanan
This presentation is a comparison on the use of STEP filtered effluent and recirculating sand filter effluent on the sand filter when dosed with aerobic and anaerobic effluent.

Simplified Design of ET beds for Groundwater Protection in the Arid Southwest
Adrian Hanson
With the continuing drought and increasing populations, there is growing concern in the arid southwest over contamination of groundwater with nitrogen. One of the suggested solutions has been the use of ET beds. The Southwest is the obvious place to use this technology, but this region has had a long history of technology failures. The failures have been caused by the design approach, which sizes the systems based on an average annual evapotransporation rate. Techniques have been proposed that designed the systems based on computer modeling, but this is not practical for most onsite installers. This paper presents a simplified design procedure that accounts for climactic impacts on ET bed design. Issues to be addressed in design are water balance, need for supplemental irrigation, and plant selection.

Geographic Information Systems in Wastewater Management & Planning
Richard Apfel
Geographic Information Systems (GIS) provide excellent tools to assist in appropriate rural wastewater management planning procedures. This type of planning platform allows the combining of a variety of resource information to comprehensively evaluate various land use decisions. Aerial photography, topographic mapping, parcel mapping, NRCS soil mapping, water resources mapping and quality data, are essential resources to consider in good land use decisions. However, these resources often require careful review and interpretation beyond what the resource materials provide.

Kevin Troutman
The Bernalillo County Office of Environmental Health (BCOEH) has adapted GIS, GPS and other mobile technology practices for use in the permitting and inspecting onsite wastewater systems. Inspectors use handheld devices to perform calculations and GPS actual systems at location sites. The permitting staff uses GIS software to verify setbacks and examine site conditions prior to performing a site evaluation.

Engaging Community Members in Wastewater Discussions
Ken Jones
Presentation focuses on a systematic method for strengthening community participation in wastewater decision making. This method focuses on integrating available information with interactive exercises that build participants capacity for understanding wastewater issues.

 The Trials And Tribulation Of Sewering Federal Dam, A Small Economically Challenged Community In Northern Minnesota.
Craig Gilbertson
The paper addresses how a community organized and worked together over a nineyear
period of planning, funding, frustrations, and finally construction of their new sewer treatment system. It also presents the cost effective decentralized technology that was designed and constructed for the collection and treatment systems. The collection and treatment system recently won honorable mention in the City Engineers Association of Minnesota Municipal Project of the Year Award competition for 2003.

OnSite Wastewater Training Activities in Utah
Judith Sims
This presentation focuses on the State of Utah's certification program for onsite
wastewater system professionals how the program began and what it includes. It also addresses the important topic of "lessons learned" and how the certification program is affecting the onsite industry in Utah.

How to assess the reliability of decentralized wastewater systems
Carl Etnier
This paper describes the outcome of a project aimed at reviewing and developing the concepts and methods required for asset management and reliability analysis of decentralized wastewater systems under various management, regulatory, and policy scenarios. It outlines the various approaches and methods that can be applied in lifecycle costing, reliability analysis and risk assessment of decentralized wastewater, giving specific tools, examples of how they are used, assessing the availability of data, and the need for next steps.

Lessons Learned with a Loosely Regulated Maintenance Provider Program and a Homeowner Education Program.
Barbara Rich
Educating the homeowner is critical to the ultimate success of any onsite wastewater treatment system. This study shows that education is becoming even more important as the systems become more complex and effective.

Onsite Operations and Maintenance Programs: Doing it, or as Larry the CableTV says, "Git'er done."

Terry Bounds
In order to service onsite systems efficiently the following will be covered: process design  concepts, troubleshooting, servicing protocol, completing field maintenance reports, homeowner/user training and information exchange.

Running a Local Wastewater Management Program
Justin Jobin
How can a small community with part time staff and limited budget effectively manage a townwide wastewater management program? Using examples from several Rhode Island towns, this session describes the nuances of administering and enforcing a local inspection, maintenance, and upgrading ordinance, with lessons learned from both the town and private sector perspectives.

Evaluation of a Wastewater Treatment Facility Using a Rotating Low Energy NonBlower Aeration.
Adrian Hanson
The treatment system was designed to treat a medium flowrate. At present the facility treats 10,000 gpd. Influent wastewater enters an equalization basin, which is continuously mixed. The treatment unit consists of two BiowheelsTM, a final clarifier, and a chamber type drainfield. The effluent is pumped from the wet well to the chambers (InfiltratorsTM ), which are placed in six different zones that can be isolated using manual valves. The contaminant of interest for removal is nitrogen. This paper presents performance of this facility from startup to the present. It addresses the problems encountered during the startup as well as the influent and effluent data collected. Facility photos will also be presented

Temperature Profiles in a Granular Compact Filter and System Performance under Cold Weather Conditions
Doug Joy
This paper presents work on temperature profiles in a granular compact filter over two winter seasons in Guelph, Ontario. The measurements are used to answer questions regarding the affect of temperatures on system performance. In addition, the information highlights the affect of winter conditions on the delivery of oxygen to the treatment system using passive means.

Nitrogen Leaching from Shallow Narrow Drainfields.
George Loomis
This presentation focuses on nitrogen reduction and leaching from shallow narrow drainfields (SND) receiving secondary or better treated effluent. The study results found that on average as much as 73% of the N discharged from an advanced treatment technology can be removed in a SND, and between 33 and 53% of the N is commonly removed. Despite these removal levels, concentrations of N available to leach to the groundwater beneath these systems were still above drinking water standards.

Warren, Vermont Case Study: A Different Approach for Small Rural Villages
Mary K. Clark
Warren, Vermont's path to decentralized wastewater management provides a model for other small communities. The project achieved many firsts in changing the traditional sewer paradigm, including performing detailed needs assessment, using alternative systems and remote monitoring, starting a low interest loan program with SRF monies, and implementing a comprehensive management program. This case study includes information about what happened, what worked, lessons learned, and suggestions for other communities.

Alternative System Long term Treatment Performance.
George Loomis
This presentation addresses the treatment performance and operation and maintenance issues of six alternative treatment systems evaluated over a four year period.

The Maine Experience Subsurface Wastewater Disposal Trends 1984 to 2003
Russell G. Martin
Electronic permit data from 1984 to 2003 were analyzed for various system and site characteristics; including soil type, limiting factor type and depth, system type, facility served, new or replacement status, and whether variances were required. The total number of systems has generally followed the economic trend, with a slight increase in the percentage of replacement systems over the last 5 years. The use of proprietary devices has increased while the proportion of systems on different soil types has remained relatively constant.

Hydrogeological Investigations for Large Cluster and High Density Wastewater Soil Absorption Systems
Scott Wallace
This paper summarizes the relative accuracy of seven different field techniques and four different groundwater mounding calculation methods as applied to five large wastewater soil absorption systems currently in operation. Study results indicate that certain field techniques introduce a strong bias into the hydraulic conductivity measurements, and that ongoing training and education of system designers is an important factor in the successful implementation of large WSAS projects.

Twenty years of Successful Onsite System Management The Ottertail MN Water Management District
Sara Christopherson
The Ottertail Water Management district was formed in 1984 as a mechanism to assure the proper onsite treatment of wastewater in 55 square miles. Initially, the district served 1200 houses, cabins and business; it has expanded to cover 1600 connections. This paper evaluates the effectiveness, economics and well monitoring data of this district.

Performance Management, Inventory, and Planning Tool for Onsite/Cluster Wastewater Treatment Systems
Craig Gilbertson and Richard Otis
Performance management and inventory of onsite/cluster wastewater treatment system are essential for providing a dependable rural infrastructure and planning. This paper presents a webbase tool that will assist the industry in obtaining these goals.

Planning & Job control—The importance of basic surveying skills and their application to excavation planning and job control on wastewater system installations.
Ralph Benson
This session outlines the importance of understanding basic surveying skills and their importance in planning a job and the subsequent installation process.

From Paper to Dirt The Importance of Construction Observation
Matthew J. Wildman
In the onsite wastewater industry, construction observation is one of the most important aspects of the project. Construction observation protects the designer, ensuring that the project is built according to plans and specifications and also protects the owner, ensuring that the owner gets a functional system at the best possible value. Construction observation is not simply watching the project get built, but taking an active role in ensuring that the project leaves the engineer, the owner and the contractor feeling good when it is complete.

Using Bottomless Sand Filters to Disperse Advanced Treated Wastewater in Rhode Island 
George Loomis
This presentation focuses on the use of bottomless sand filters (BSF) as a drainfield option following advanced wastewater treatment technologies. Basic BSF configuration and design, and hydraulic loading rates related to soil characteristics, effluent quality, and dosing mode will be discussed. A construction sequence will also be described.

A Standardized "Perc" Test Why Not?
 Ron Marquart
Since 1957, the procedure to conduct the perc test has been derived from the U.S. Public Health Service’s "Manual of SepticTank Practice". Modification and clarification of the procedure at several critical points would help to standardize the test and provide more consistent results.

Field Evaluation of a Single Parameter Screening Method for Assessing the Performance of Peat Filters in North Carolina
Robert L. Uebler, Marie Christine Belanger
Performance standards are often set by regulatory agencies prior to approval of pretreatment technologies. Fecal coliform concentration in the effluent is frequently used to evaluate field performance, but grab samples can give unreliable results. A reliable triage method is needed by regulators to determine when a filter is in or out of compliance. In this study, a field testing method of determining ammonia and nitrate concentration was correlated to BOD5, TSS & fecal coliform concentration in the effluent to determine if the field method provides a reliable screening tool for determining if filters are performing properly in North Carolina.

Applications of Subsurface Drip Dispersal Technology in Engineered Ecological Systems
Rodney Ruskin
This paper summarizes current advances in the use of subsurface drip dispersal (SSDD) technology in engineered ecological systems.

From Public Process to Recommendation to Rule: the good, the bad and the ugly.
Barbara Rich
This presentation describes the difficult course of a new regulation from conception, through the public process of approval and rule writing and all of the pitfalls that come along
the way.

Advancing the Onsite Wastewater Industry in Nebraska: Milestones and Challenges
Wayne Woldt
The state of Nebraska has been engaged in a deliberate and long term process to advance the onsite industry from a somewhat unregulated and unorganized condition into a more professional and responsible standing. This process includes the formation of a statewide industry association, and promulgation of new certification laws. This paper will describe this experience, and present the process as it has developed to date, along with projections for future advancements.

Decentralized/Onsite Wastewater and Drinking Water Regulations
Rod Frederick
This paper describes the Safe Drinking Water Act regulatory requirements that must be considered when dispersing or discharging onsite/decentralized wastewater. Case studies and examples of these considerations will be presented and discussed.

Pretreatment of Septage and Grease Trap Wastes
Tom Ferrero
This presentation is a case history describing a model procedure that others may follow. The process design at this facility is to manage the input from the local septic haulers by a sampling protocol and recordkeeping, screening and grit removal, flow equalization, chemical conditioning and dewatering, and clarification of the filtrate prior to discharge to the municipal sewer collection system.

Bringing a Regional Septage Treatment Facility to Life
Jim Minster
This presentation is about a septage treatment facility that will end the land application of septage in the Grand Traverse County region (nearly eight millions gallons a year at this time). All townships in the County are participating, including Elmwood Township in Leelanau County. The facility will produce Class A biosolids for beneficial reuse.

Prospecting for Ground Water Contamination from OnSite Wastewater Systems in New Mexico
Bruce Thomson
This paper describes a field investigation to measure the impacts of high densities of septic tank systems on ground water quality near Albuquerque, NM. Surprisingly little contamination was found including very low concentrations of nitrate. One mechanism for nitrogen removal may be subsurface nitrification denitrification in the deep unsaturated soils. The implications for development densities in unsewered communities will be discussed.

Cluster/Community Decentralized Wastewater Treatment Plants with Beneficial Reuse in the State of New Jersey
Robert Sharp, David Interdonato
Decentralized wastewater treatment systems for cluster/residential communities have the ability to provide a high quality of treated effluent exceeding the strict beneficial reuse standards at the "end of pipe," eliminating the need for further treatment through the soil. This presentation discusses the type of treatment needed for such a system and how meeting reuse standards at the "end of pipe" will allow for the reuse of water through subsurface drip irrigation, spray irrigation, gray water reuse, decorative ponds, and other more creative ways of conserving our vital natural resource water.

Decentralized Approaches to Water Reuse
Scott Wallace
Optimization of water reuse systems requires consideration of technical, operational, and regulatory factors, which are the same factors affecting decentralized wastewater management. In many instances water reuse projects can be “rightsized” for an optimum balance of these factors at the cluster level. Several case studies are presented illustrating regulatory compliance, application of performance standards, and lifecycle costs of clusterscale reuse systems.

It’s All Water, Its All Good Recycled Water in Semi Arid Areas
Richard Jennings
Current projects include automated sequential irrigation with treated effluent, water management consulting, rainwater system designs for commercial and subdivision projects.

Putting the “Recycling” in Onsite
David Venhuizen
The high performance biofiltration/drip irrigation concept for an onsite wastewater system is described. Actual installations of this type of system are reviewed and descriged. O&M requirements of the system are reviewed, including the arrangements made to assure their proper execution. The impact of this practice on the regional water economy is discussed. Code barriers to proliferation of this strategy are reviewed.

An Automated Large Subsurface drip Irrigation System for a Reuse of Treated Poultry Effluent
Matt B. Phelps
As a design build project, APEC designed and constructed a subsurface effluent land application system for a large egg farm for Pilgrim's Pride Inc. The project was for the disposal of 0.3 MGD of effluent on approximately 70 acres of farmland. APEC designed the entire system including installing approximately 1,734,000 feet of drip hose.

Greywater Reuse as a Wastewater Disposal Alternative
Fred R. Gaines
Graywater is benign compared to sewage, yet is routinely treated exactly like sewage and disposed of. Reusing greywater reduces wastewater discharges by 50%, while decreasing demand on fresh water supplies, while virtually eliminating irrigation runoff pollution, all at very low cost.