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					                                                                                                                                                                    Volume 11

   Alternative Sewers                                                                                                                                               Number 4
                                                                                                                                                                    Fall 1997

   Technologies Provide Cost-effective Option for Many Small Systems

                                                                                                                                                               Small Flows
        by Kathy Jesperson                 Harold Ball, president of Orenco      “Alternative systems can be built       department at Geneva College in
      NSFC Contributing Writer             Systems Incorporated based in         in many areas that are limited by       Pennsylvania, and Donald D.
                                           Sutherlin, Oregon. “There is a        their terrain,” said Steve Fishel,      Gray, associate professor of civil
   If you’re not connected to a con-       serious lack of education about       environmental engineer with the         and environmental engineering at
   ventional gravity sewer, then you       alternative systems. And that’s       Tennessee Division of Water Pol-        West Virginia University.
   must have a septic tank with a          something that needs to be brought    lution Control.
   drainfield. Right?                      out in the open.”                                                             While the authors submit that a
                                                                                 “The slope of a conventional grav-      90-percent savings is not typical,
   Well, maybe not. Within the past        Ball said that although the fight to ity sewer is a major consideration       they do advise that savings can be
   30 years, alternative sewer tech-       include alternative systems as a      as well as deep trenches, large         significant—especially when
   nologies have taken hold within         viable choice is now gaining mo-      expensive pipe, large pump sta-         considering that the collection
   the U.S.                                mentum, he’s found that most          tions, infiltration and inflow (I/I),   system cost is typically 80 to 90
                                           times people are willing to listen.   and huge future rehabilitation          percent of the overall treatment
   Alternative sewer technologies          State environmental control divi-     costs,” Fishel said. “Since our goal    and collection expense. The paper
   include grinder pump pressure           sions are becoming more familiar      is to eliminate future hidden costs     illustrates that alternative sewer
   sewers, septic tank effluent pump       with what these kinds of systems      of I/I, cities must do something        technologies are practical and
   pressure sewers, small-diameter         can offer communities—particu-        different. Gravity sewer systems        cost-effective choices in many
   gravity sewers, and vacuum sewers.      larly those that could not otherwise are complicated systems that can         different situations.
                                           install central sewers. And regula- be very expensive.”
   Although they’ve been around            tors are more willing to grant per-                                           Grinder Pumps
   since the late 1960s, alternative       mits now than in years past, he       Because of these considerations,        In grinder pump (GP) pressure
   sewer technologies often are            added.                                alternative sewer technologies can      sewers, wastewater from conven-
   treated like new inventions in                                                save many small communities             tional plumbing fixtures flows by
   some states. An alternative tech-       Conventional gravity sewers work thousands of dollars. According to           gravity to a holding tank in the
   nology simply means a technology        just fine in many situations, par-    the conference paper Conventional       basement or under the lawn. The
   that exists outside of what we          ticularly in areas with large popu-   and Alternative Sanitary Sewers:        holding tank contains a level-
   consider conventional or tradi-         lations, low water tables, or deep    Concepts, Experience, and Costs,        controlled sewage pump whose
   tional—large diameter gravity           soils. But in areas where popula-     “capital cost savings as high as 90     intake is fitted with a grinding
   sewers with a central collection        tions are small, the terrain is hilly percent have been reported with         mechanism similar to that of a
   system.                                 or rocky, the groundwater table is    pressure sewers compared to con-        household garbage disposal. When
                                           high, or shallow soils exist, an      ventional gravity sewers.” The          a preset volume—typically 10 to
   “We sometimes have a hard time          alternative system is a welcome       paper was written by James S.
   trying to break old habits,” said       option.                               Gidley, head of the civil engineering   Continued on page 2

   Small Community’s Call to NSFC Results in Big Savings
          by Chris Berry
      NSFC Contributing Writer

   Palouse, Washington, a town with
   a population under 1,000 and a
   sewer plant constructed during the
   1950s, faced a problem. The
   Washington Department of Ecol-
   ogy had discovered the town’s
   sewage treatment plant was out of
   compliance. The town was ordered
   to correct the problem.

   The Palouse City Council was
   stunned. The prospect of financing
   a new system was staggering. To
   give the town more time, the plant      A small Washington community saved more than $3 million on its new wastewater treatment plant after consult-
   operator improvised and inserted a      ing with the National Small Flows Clearinghouse’s technical assistance staff. Photo courtesy of Ed Gnaedinger
   section of corrugated fiberglass
   roofing into the chamber of the         location within the flood plane       replace a 400-foot section of 12-       woth biological oxygen demand
   holding tank to slow output and in-     prompted officials to build a new     inch collection main.                   (BOD) levels of 30 mg/l (milli-
   crease contact time for disinfection.   plant.                                                                        grams per liter), total suspended
                                                                                 The engineering firm and city           solids (TSS) levels of 30 mg/l, and                     L   SMALL
   At the time, Palouse was discharg-                                                                                                                                         NA
                                           An Expensive Solution

                                                                                 council agreed on a lagoon and          a total kjeldakl nitrogen (TKN) of

                                                                                                                                                                    NAT I

   ing effluent containing chlorine        The city council decided to hire an   irrigation system. In order to con-     10 mg/l.

   and ammonia into a local river.         engineering firm that had worked      struct the system, Palouse would

   This make-shift baffle drastically                                                                                                                                     EA

                                           with Palouse in the past. The firm    need to spend $6 million, dedicate      The Department of Ecology alerted                      R IN GHOU
   slowed plant output, and the town       came up with two viable options       160 acres of land for effluent irri-    the town that it would be able to
   considered spending between             for the town. Both of them would      gation, and absorb the high cost of     locate money to fund the project.          Helping
   $10,000 and $15,000 to install a        require the town to purchase prop-    operating and maintaining the           However, after $240,000 had                America’s small
   more efficient, permanent baffle.       erty, pump the effluent to a higher   system. The lagoon system, they                                                    communities meet
   But the age of the plant and its        elevation for treatment, and          were told, would produce effluent       Continued on page 9                        their wastewater
SMALL FLOWS-Fall 1997; Vol.11, No. 4                                                                                                                            1
                 Alternative Sewers
                 Continued from page 1                   But before the district could make    a total cost of $478,223—which          of the grease, 70 to 90 percent of
                                                         plans to replace the trunkline, a     included 10,000 feet of trunkline, a    the suspended solids, and 50 to 80
                 30 gallons—accumulates, the             major storm hit the area, breaking    large diameter force main, and the      percent of the biological oxygen
                 grinder pump is activated.              the line. The district decided it     grinder pump system. The GP             demand (BOD).
                                                         would be a good idea to redesign      system alone cost $98,453.
                 The grinder pump then macerates         the trunkline and move it to higher                                           The partially treated effluent then
                 the solids and pumps the resulting      ground, relocating it along a high-  Approximately $36,000 of the total       flows to a pump vault within the
                 slurry into a collection network        way. This move left 25-30 sea-       cost was for a new electrical sys-       tank (or separate pump tank in
                 (see graphic below). Grinding           sonal homes, which had been con-     tem, according to the NSFC case          older systems) where a submers-
                 solids reduces the risk of block-       nected to the trunkline, without     study. This allows for pump power        ible pump—typically one-half
                 ages to the small-diameter pipes.       central collection.                  consumption to be metered sepa-          horsepower—conveys the effluent
                 Since the flow is under pressure,                                            rately from the homeowners’ other        to the collection system. The
                 there are no restrictions on the        These homes were at a lower el-      power needs and paid for by the          pumps are usually controlled by
                 length or rise of the collection net-   evation than the new line. “Most of sanitary district. Because of this        level sensors that cause the pumps
                 work. And because grinder pumps         the customers said they were not     breakdown in costs, the per house        to discharge approximately 50
                 normally run for only a few minutes     going back on septic tanks and       cost came to about $3,000.               gallons per dose.
                 per day, operation costs are rela-      they wanted us to find a way to
                 tively low.                             help them,” said Dale Glidden,       “The system is operating very            A typical septic tank provides 100
                                                         sanitary district superintendent.    well,” said Glidden. “Customers          to 200 gallons of reserve storage
                 Augusta Installs GP System              “After some research, we decided don’t even know that the pumps               capacity for use during system
                 In 1981, the Augusta Sanitary           that the most cost-effective collec- are there because we maintain            failures.
                 District in Augusta, Maine, needed      tion system was a grinder pump       them—the electricity, general
                 to replace a conventional gravity       system. There are such a small       maintenance, etc. One of the             Both GP and STEP units generally
                 sewer. The district serves Augusta      number of homes, and they’re         pumps has a rubber boot that we          use above-ground electrical panels
                 and several surrounding communi-        primarily for seasonal use, that     need to replace every couple of years.   that contain the pump control and
                 ties. The regional trunkline ran        installing a conventional gravity                                             visual alarm circuits. These panels
                 along the shore of Lake Cobbossee-      system would have been too ex-       “We recently had to replace some         may be free-standing units above
                 contee in Manchester and was            pensive.”                            of the pump motors, but the system       the pump vault or may be mounted
                 subject to flooding and wave dam-                                            has been in operation for more           on the exterior wall of the house.
                 age. Besides deterioration of the       According to the National Small      than 10 years, so I think that’s just
                 trunkline, the district also had to     Flows Clearinghouse’s (NSFC)         normal wear and tear that you have       Glide Takes a STEP
                 consider that the lake serves as a      case study of this system,           to expect,” he said.                     In Glide, Oregon, development
                 secondary drinking water source         Augusta’s Sanitary District                                                   was sparse. A conventional gravity
                 for Augusta.                            constucted the system in 1981 for    “One problem we had surprised            system would have required long
                                                                                              me. One household must have              lengths of sewer lines between
                   Grinder Pump                                                               really liked eggs. And they kept
                                                                                              putting egg shells down the drain.
                                                                                                                                       homes. And installing septic sys-
                                                                                                                                       tems was not an option because the
                                                                                              Well, the shells acted like frag-        area’s soils were not suitable for
                                                                                              ments of glass in the grinder pump       subsurface disposal. Many existing
                                                                                              and cut the rubber boots to pieces,”     homes had sewage ponding on the
                                                                                              he said. Sanitary district personnel     ground’s surface as well as flow-
                                                                                              distributed letters to the home-         ing into roadside ditches.
                                                                                              owners, warning them of the egg-
                                                                                              shell problem.                           After conducting several indepen-
                                                                                                                                       dent studies, the community
                                                                                               “Other than that, we’ve really had      concluded that installing a conven-
                                                                                               very few problems with it. I think      tional gravity system would not be
                                                                                               that it’s been money well spent.        a cost-effective option. So in 1975,
                                                                                               It’s been an exceptional system”        the Douglas County Department of
                                                                                               Glidden said.                           Public Works proposed a pressure
                                                                           Wet well                                                    sewer system to serve the commu-
                                                                                               He is cautious to stress that a         nity. The system includes a pump
                     Sewage to                                                                 power outage would affect the           at each home or group of homes,
                                                                                               entire system. However, he asserted     small diameter piping, and a cen-
                     collection main
                                                                                               that it’s easy to maintain and rela-    tral treatment plant. In Glide’s
                                                                                               tivity inexpensive to install and       case, the pumps are septic tank
                                                                                               operate.                                effluent pumps.

                                                                                               “Customers pay a flat fee that          “This system was the first of its
                                                                                               comes to about $220–$230 a year         kind 20 years ago, and it’s been
                                                                                               regardless of flow for the sewer        quite a success,” said Stan
                     Sewage                                                                    service,” Glidden said. That cost       Sherman, operator of the Glide
                     from house                                                                equals roughly $19 a month.             Wastewater Treatment Facility. “It
                                                                  Grinder pump                                                         serves 600 hookups, and each
                                                                                               STEP Systems                            residence has a septic tank and
                                                                                               In septic tank effluent pump            control panel. There is a sub-
                                                                                               (STEP) preasure sewers systems,         merged pump in a vault within the
                                                                                               raw household sewage enters a           septic tank that sends effluent by
                                                                                               watertight septic tank with a ca-       pressure to the main line.
                                                                                               pacity of at least 1,000 gallons.
                                                                                               This treatment removes 90 percent       Continued on next page
                 Source: F.E. Myers Co.

             2                                                                                                                SMALL FLOWS-Fall 1997; Vol.11, No. 4
   Continued from previous page            of SDGS are variable grade efflu-      created by failing onsite sewage        few times when I had to put on my
                                           ent sewers (VGES) and minimum          disposal systems.                       boots and stand in someone’s tub
   “The system is pretty well self         grade effluent sewers (MGES).                                                  with a plunger. This isn’t the
   maintained,” he continued. “We                                                 Some of the homes discharged raw        district’s responsibility, it’s just
   don’t have too many problems.           Both VGES and MGES use grav-           sewage directly into ditches,           that I have the knowledge, time,
   Homeowners notify us if a pump          ity as a main force, rather than       streams, back yards, or open pits.      and tools. Besides, it’s just good
   burns out. But there’s no set pat-      pumps, to carry treated effluent       During periods of heavy rainfall,       public relations as well as neighbor
   tern for what’s going to happen.        from the septic tanks that provide     septic tank effluent surfaced and       helping neighbor.
   Overall, it’s fairly minimal mainte-    primary treatment to the household     polluted storm runoff. After in-
   nance. Two operators handle the         wastewater. Since the septic tank      specting the onsite systems, regu-      “I guess the point I’m trying to make
                                                                                  lators determined that a high           is that when part of the system is in
     STEP/SDGS Systems                                                            groundwater table combined with
                                                                                  poor soil conditions made onsite
                                                                                                                          every customer’s backyard, they
                                                                                                                          become more involved. And the
                                                                                  treatment unsuitable for the area.      operator becomes more involved
                                                                                                                          with the customers,” she asserted.
                                                                                  After considering a number of
                                                                                  conventional and alternative sys-       The lines in Dexter’s system are
                                                                                  tems, Dexter town officials de-         about three to four feet deep.
                                                                                  cided that a MGES system with a         According to Jerry Minor, project
                                                                                  recirculating sand filter treatment     design engineer, that’s one reason
                                                                                  plant should be built.                  the town saved a considerable
                                                                                                                          amount of money on excavation.
                                                                                  The total construction cost of the      “We also did not need to install
                                                                                  collection and treatment system,        manholes such as a typical gravity
   Septic tank effluent pump (STEP) pressure sewers and small-diameter            including septic tanks, was a little    system would require, and that
   gravity sewers (SDGS) each involve partial treatment in a septic tank          more than $1 million, or roughly        saved the town even more money,”
   before effluent is released to a collection system. STEP systems rely on a     $5,200 per home. The MGES               he concluded.
   pump, SDGS systems rely on gravity, while hybrid systems use a                 alone cost approximately
   combination of both.                                                           $600,000. An estimate of approxi-       Desoto said town residents pay
                                                                                  mately $1.9 million had been bid        $17 a month for the sewer service.
                                                                                  for the construction of a conven-
   facility, service calls, and just       removes most of the grease and         tional gravity system with treat-       Vacuum Sewers
   about everything about the system.      suspended solids from the sewage,      ment by a stabilization pond.           The first modern residential
                                           minimum velocity is not as impor-                                              vacuum sewer (VS) was con-
   “We’ve installed a couple of main       tant as it is for GP systems.          “Since the system was built, we         structed in Sweden in 1959, but
   lines since the system was first                                               tore out the fabric matting within      this technology did not reach the
   installed. And that’s because of        The pipes used with these systems      the rock filter media. The original     U.S. until 1970. As the name sug-
   area development,” Sherman said.        are somewhat larger than those         plastic tanks collapsed in the winter   gests, these systems rely on a
   “Customers pay an installation fee      used for pressure sewers—usually       rains and were replaced with con-       vacuum created at a central pump-
   of $3,350. This fee includes every      three to four inches in diameter.      crete tanks. Smoke testing revealed     ing station to operate.
   apparatus needed. And they pay a                                               high infiltration was occurring
   $26 monthly fee for the sewer           As with other alternative systems,     through the septic tank lids. Extend-   This type of sewer works best in
   service.                                these kinds of sewers use plastic      ing these to six inches above the       flat areas because of its limited
                                           pipes. They are much less expen-       ground has greatly reduced I/I,”        ability to transport wastewater
   “When they compared the cost            sive and easier to install than con-   said Lil Desoto, system operator for    uphill. Lines should not be built
   difference of STEP versus a con-        ventional sewer pipe. Plastic pipes    the Dexter Sanitary District.           with lifts of more than 26 feet over
   ventional system there was a major      may also be laid at variable grades,                                           the entire system.
   difference. So it pretty much sold      which can be a money saving            Desoto said the system has all
   itself,” he added. “We get calls        feature in areas where rock            closed piping, but there are still      VS systems have no electrical
   from out of state all the time from     outcroppings or other geological       some concerns with I/I. “Our aver-      components at individual connec-
   people who are looking into these       features make deep excavation          age flow of 40,000 gallons per day      tions and do not require any spe-
   kinds of systems. They will prob-       expensive.                             [gpd] in the summer rose to             cial plumbing fixtures on the
   ably become common as the years                                                100,000 [gpd] with six inches of        homeowner’s part. However, elec-
   go by.”                              Frequently, STEP and SDGS                 rain over three days during the         trical power is needed at the cen-
                                        systems will be used together.            winter. We’re going to be doing         tral pumping station.
   SDG Sewers                           While most houses may be served           some smoke testing to try to deter-
   Small-diameter gravity sewers        by gravity, a few houses will be          mine where some of the leaks are     Wastewater flows from the house
   (SDGS) travel under several differ- situated below the elevation of the        coming from,” she said.              via gravity to a holding tank. When
   ent aliases, such as variable grade  main. Rather than incurring extra                                              the wastewater level reaches three
   sewers, septic tank effluent drain-  excavation costs by dropping the          But Desoto said the system has       to 10 gallons, a sensor prompts the
   age, small bore sewers, and Aus-     main or pressurizing the whole            held up well through all the area    pneumatic valve to open, and
   tralian sewers. Not only is it con-  neighborhood, the isolated                flooding. After eight inches of rain wastewater is drawn by vacuum
   fusing to have so many names for     residences may be served by               fell in two days, they had to evacu- into the lines. From there, it is
   a system that is basically the same, STEP units.                               ate at one house because the lines   transported to a centralized pump-
   but the current terminology fails to                                           were backing up into his shower.     ing station for future treatment.
   fully describe the important dis-    Dexter Saves with MGES                    “And that’s pretty good—one out
   tinctions between the different      Dexter, Oregon—about 18 miles             of about 200 homes,” she said.       VS systems are equipped with
   types of systems as well as their    southeast of Eugene—installed a                                                alarms and an emergency backup
   relationship to each other.          MGES that went into operation in          “Overall, it’s an easy system to     generator at the pumping station in
                                        1983. In 1977, Lane County had            operate,” she continued. “But you case a power outage or other problem
   SDGS includes the STEP systems placed a moratorium on new con-                 need to be there for folks if some-
   mentioned above. Two other types struction because of health hazards           thing goes wrong. There’ve been a Continued on page 4

SMALL FLOWS-Fall 1997; Vol.11, No. 4                                                                                                                              3
                         Alternative Sewers
                         Continued from page 3                  homes, and the effluent goes into a     infiltrate the system. Cracked pipes   maintenance costs and require-
                                                                holding tank and we use vacuum          and leaky manhole covers can be a      ments. “We need to do more work
                         occurs. These systems use small-       from there.                             concern with conventional sewers,      to compare all the costs and tasks
                         diameter plastic pipes as do the                                               causing an excessive amount of         of alternative systems,” said Fishel.
                         other systems mentioned. The lines     “But this is a maintenance system,      water to flow into the system and
                         are usually three to four inches in    so if there’s a problem you have to     untreated wastewater to flow out.      But because alternative systems
                         diameter from the service connec-      take care of it right away. Other-                                             have components that conventional
                         tion and from four to 10 inches in     wise, everyone on the system is         Because alternative sewers use         collection systems do not, mainte-
                         the main. The vacuum also keeps        out of service,” he noted.              plastic pipes rather than conven-      nance is important to the life of the
                         the lines clean, eliminating the                                               tional clay or concrete pipes, they    system. Further, power outages
                         need for manholes and clean-out        “The average monthly bill for a         are more likely to remain water-       also may affect the operation of
                         points. Air, admitted with the         homeowner is $27,” he said.             tight. And watertight design and       alternative sewers because these
                         sewage, helps reduce odors.                                                    construction is essential for septic systems often require electricity to
                                                                Considering the Facts                   tanks, pump tanks, risers, and other operate. Mechanical breakdowns
                         These systems usually require an       Choosing one of these alternative       system components. Too much            also may disrupt service. And
                         operator because pumps and pump-       technologies involves the consider-     water in the system can reduce its     systems may be poorly designed or
                         ing stations need to be checked on a   ation of many factors, such as the      life, adding to the community’s costs. installed if engineers or contractors
                         regular basis. Division valves that    lay of the land and the population                                             have little experience with the
                         connect different parts of the sewer   of the area to be served. Hookups       Because some alternative sewers        technology.
                         lines need to be checked at least      to conventional sewers may not          don’t rely on gravity to operate,
                         twice a year, and the pneumatic        always be available.                    they don’t need to be built on a       “An engineer should never be
                         vacuum valves at each connection                                               continuous downward slope as do hired to install an alternative sys-
                         should be checked annually.            Sometimes the area is too far from      conventional sewers, saving            tem unless the engineer has con-
                                                                the community’s more populated          money on excavation. Instead, they siderable actual experience or
                         Cedar Rocks Gets a VS                  urban areas, and installing conven-     are buried at shallow depths, just     agrees to hire an experienced con-
                         In 1984, vacuum sewers offered         tional sewers would be too expen-       below the frost line, and can follow sultant to assist,” said Ball.
                         the folks in Cedar Rocks, West         sive. Or site conditions such as        the natural contours of the land.
                         Virginia, the opportunity to have a    rugged, rocky, or hilly terrain may                                            “Because these systems are rela-
                         low-cost centralized collection        make conventional sewering too          Such features make alternative         tively new, there’s not much docu-
                         system. The system involves col-       difficult to build and, conse-          sewer technologies appropriate for mentation on costs,” said Fishel.
                         lecting sewage from Cedar Rocks        quently, too expensive.                 areas with hilly terrain or ex-        “We encourage our communities
                         with final disposal in Wheeling,                                               tremely flat terrain, shallow bed-     to shop hard for good technology
                         West Virginia.                         “You need to look at the econom-        rock, and high water tables and        and to look for future hidden costs.
 “You need to look                                              ics as well as the reliability of the   areas where the costs and environ- Always be sure you’re dealing
 at the economics        Installing the vacuum system           collection system,” said Fishel.        mental impact of excavating for        with an engineer who knows the
                         saved the town a considerable          “That’s what counts.” He also           traditional gravity sewers would be system. Do your homework. You
   as well as the
                         amount in construction costs. To       advises looking at future costs and     excessive. Trenchless installations won’t be sorry you did later.”
   reliablility of       install a conventional gravity sys-    the system’s hidden costs—such as       and other new techniques can
   the collection        tem, the town would have had to        system maintenance.                     further reduce the costs and impact To obtain copies of the case stud-
                         shell out $2.1 million—which was                                               of construction.                       ies mentioned in this article, call
  system. That’s         the low bid and not the actual         “From our view, we try to require                                              the NSFC at (800) 624-8301. For
   what counts.”         construction cost. The vacuum          the city’s engineer to express clear    Another advantage of plastic pip-      the report on Cedar Rocks, West
                         system was designed, bid, and          economics and give a clear vision       ing is that it can be routed around    Virginia, request Item
   Steve Fishel,         constructed at a final actual con-     of alternative systems,” he stated.     ponds, lakes, trees, houses, and       #WWBLCS02. The cost is $1.15.
                         struction cost of $1.2 million,                                                other obstacles. This can minimize For the report on Dexter, Oregon,
Tennessee Division       saving the town at least $925,000.   Advantages                                disruption to the environment and request Item #WWBLCS13. The
of Water Pollution                                            Alternative sewers offer communi-         further save money for home-           cost is $1.45. For the report on
     Control             “We started out with one system in ties many advantages. One advan-            owners and communities.                Augusta Maine, request Item
                         1983, and now we have five,” said tage is that they use small-diameter                                                #WWBLCS12. The cost is $1.15.
                         Ed Clifford, Ohio County Public      plastic pipes. These pipes are much       Finally, some alternative sewer
                         Service District general manager.    smaller than those used in conven-        system designs allow developers        To obtain a copy of the Gidley and
                         “We saved a ton of money on          tional gravity sewers and are less        and community planners the ad-         Gray paper, Conventional and
                         construction costs because the       expensive and easier to install—          vantage of more flexibility because Alternative Sanitary Sewers: Con-
                         lines don’t have to be so deep. This thereby saving money for the com-         the most expensive system compo- cepts, Experience, and Costs, call
                         area has lots of hillside and rocky  munity as well as individual              nents for each connection do not       the NSFC at the number above and
                         terrain. Those are the main reasons homeowners.                                need to be purchased or installed      ask for Item #L2087 from the
                         we chose it.                                                                   until after houses are built.          NSFC’s Bibliographic Database.
                                                              The use of small-diameter plastic                                                And for more information about
                         “If there had been any problem       pipes is possible because the             While individual homeowners may alternative sewer technologies,
                         with it, I don’t think we would      wastewater that flows into them is        look on this as a disadvantage         call the NSFC technical assistance
                         have expanded it,” he continued.     easier to pump through small pipe.        because the cost of the onsite com- staff .
                         “About the only problems we’ve       The amount of solids, grease, and         ponents is transferred directly to
                         had with it were people routing      oils is considerably less, and large,     them, they may well pay more for
                         their downspouts into the line and   solid materials have either been          conventional systems through             See page 16 for more on
                         allowing the water to flow into the separated out or ground into               higher taxes and fees. So, in the        alternative sewers in the
                         system and overloading it.           smaller pieces.                           long run they may be saving a            Hotline Q&A section
                                                                                                        substantial amount of money.
                         “People don’t know the difference      Another advantage of alternative                                                 See page 7 of the NSFC
                         from a conventional system,” he        sewers is that the construction of      Other Considerations                     Products Insert in the center
                         added. “There’s nothing on the lot     the lines and other design factors      Before choosing an alternative           of this newsletter for a list of
                         that indicates any difference. The     makes it less likely for wastewater     technology, there are some things        related products.
                         system uses gravity flow from the      to seep out or for other water to       to consider, such as operation and

                     4                                                                                                                 SMALL FLOWS-Fall 1997; Vol.11, No. 4
   Improving the Public’s Perception of Biosolids
           by Jeremy Canody
           NSFC Staff Writer

   Biosolids are the treated end prod-
   ucts generated during the treatment
   of sewage. In other words, they are
   the processed organic solids that

   have been separated from the liq-
   uid portion of municipal wastewa-
   ter during treatment.

   Following treatment these solids
   may be incinerated in a furnace,
   disposed of in a landfill or a desig-
   nated surface disposal site (e.g.,
   monofill), or land applied for ben-
   eficial purposes.

   Over the past 25 years, there has
   been an increasing interest in the
   land application of biosolids to
   agricultural and landscaping areas,
   in addition to using heat drying/
   pelletizing, composting, and alka-
   line stabilization processes to pro-
   duce biosolids by-products.             A truck applies biosolids to a farm in western Pennsylvania. There are approximately 1,500 permitted
                                           sites in Pennsylvania where biosolids can be applied for agricultural, land reclamation, and other pur-
   Biosolids must meet quality and         poses. Photo by Scott Beveridge/(Washington, PA) Observer-Reporter
   reuse standards as defined by fed-
   eral and state regulations. Bio-        including nitrogen, phosphorous,        Addressing Fears and                    nutrients for plants to grow.
   solids treated in accordance with       and zinc, are essential for sustain-    Misconceptions                          Biosolids sold as fertilizer have a
   these regulations have been proven      ing plant and animal life.              When people become aware that           mild, organic smell similar to soil.
   safe and should leave no cause for                                              the food they are eating, the grass
   concern.                                Microorganisms, trace amounts of        on their golf courses, and the ball     Walker said people tend to become
                                           metals, and synthetic and naturally     fields that their children play on      concerned when they smell a foul
   Yet, there remains skepticism in        occurring chemicals are also            were grown with the help of what        odor and realize it’s coming from
   the public’s eye as to just how safe    present in biosolids. These con-        used to be municipal sewage, they       land-applied biosolids. “They have
   the various uses of biosolids really    stituents have the potential to be      tend to become unsettled with the       the misconception that raw human
   are, particularly the land applica-     harmful to health and the environ-      thought.                                waste, laden with toxic chemicals,
   tion of biosolids.                      ment if they are not treated and/or                                             is being applied—that’s simply not
                                           removed. However, rigorous pre-         According to John Walker, leader        the case.”
   The fact is, biosolids are one of the   treatment processes at wastewater       of EPA’s Biosolids Management
   most studied materials that have        treatment plants and industrial         Implementation Team, the public         The fact is, Walker added, biosolids
   ever been regulated by the U.S.         facilities significantly reduce these   and some environmentalist groups        that meet federal treatment, applica-
   Environmental Protection Agency         harmful constituents to levels          are concerned with the use of land      tion, and monitoring requirements
   (EPA), whose findings conclude          where they no longer present a          applied biosolids for various rea-      are safe for use.
   that biosolids applications, when       threat to the environment or human      sons. These include problems with
   conducted properly, improve soil        health.                                 odors, fears about the potential for    Contamination—Those concerned
   conditions and increase plant pro-                                              groundwater contamination, and          with ground and surface water con-
   ductivity. It also eliminates the       The presence of beneficial nutri-       fear that the federal and state regu-   tamination feel that biosolids con-
   disposal of a useful by-product.        ents in biosolids make land appli-      lations on biosolids reuse are not      tribute excess nutrients, trace met-
                                           cation an attractive option to farm-    being properly followed.                als, microorganisms, and pathogens.
   Why use biosolids?                      ers and growers, therefore creating                                             On the contrary, biosolids must
   Many treatment facilities, both         an increased demand for a benefi-       Walker addressed each concern.          meet federal, state, and local regula-
   large and small, choose to land         cial byproduct that would other-                                                tions, eliminate harmful constituents
   apply their biosolids because it        wise be landfilled or incinerated.      Odor—Different kinds of recycled        and utilize those that can be benefi-
   tends to be the most environmen-                                                biosolids each have their own           cial to the soil and environment.
   tally friendly, economical, and         Approximately 65 percent of all         distinct smells, depending on the
   resourceful disposal option.            land applied biosolids are being        type of treatment they have under-When applied to crops, application
                                           used on agricultural land to grow       gone. Some have only a mild,      rates are matched to calculate crop
   According to EPA, approximately         various crops intended for both         musty smell, while other biosolids,
                                                                                                                     demand (called the agronomic rate)
   54 percent of all biosolids are land    human and non-human consump-            when freshly applied, have a stron-
                                                                                                                     for beneficial nutrients, such as
   applied (for purposes that include      tion. Although recycling biosolids      ger odor that tends to be offensive
                                                                                                                     nitrogen and background levels of
   land reclamation, fertilization of      back to the land is a common prac-      to some people.                   constituents already existing in the
   forest land and agricultural crops),    tice, there are not nearly enough                                         soil. This ensures that land applica-
   or composted to make organic            biosolids to fertilize all crops        These odors, whether strong or    tion sites do not become overabun-
   fertilizers for landscaping.            grown in the U.S. According to          not, are primarily caused by com- dant with plant nutrients and trace
                                           EPA, less than 1 percent of the         pounds containing sulfur and am-  metals that may adversely affect
   Biosolids consist of a variety of       total food supply has been fertil-      monia. Forms of these compounds, ground and nearby surface waters.
   materials including organics, soil,     ized with biosolids.                    such as nitrate, ammonium, and
   and sand. Many of the constituents,                                             sulfate, also serve as beneficial Continued page 6

SMALL FLOWS-Fall 1997; Vol.11, No. 4                                                                                                                                5
    Improving the Public’s Perception of Biosolids
    Continued from page 5                In response, Al Gray, Water Envi-        that high quality biosolids can be      However, Part 503 applies to any
                                         ronment Federation (WEF) deputy          used sustainably when applied to        person who is a preparer of
                                         executive director, pointed out that     agricultural land to nourish and        biosolids (a person who changes
    Regulations—In order to avoid        biosolids and untreated sewage           improve the fertility, structure, and   the quality of biosolids) for uses
    ground and surface water contami- sludge are different by-products.           properties of the soil. However,        intended for application, disposal,
    nation, biosolids must be applied at Gray explained in a subsequent           many people do not know much            or incineration. Therefore,
    the agronomic rate and must meet     interview with CNN that biosolids        about the rules that regulate           preparers must apply for permits.
    a number of pathogen reduction       are processed, regulated, moni-          biosolids and are convinced that
    requirements, constituent limits,    tored, and have been subjected to        they are not being followed prop-       These people are usually the own-
    and loading rates that contain       severe risk assessments by EPA,          erly.                                   ers and operators of treatment
    monitoring and record keeping        WEF, and many scientific organi-                                                 facilities that treat domestic sew-
    provisions to assure requirements    zations that continue to monitor         Regulating Biosolids                    age. However, biosolids preparers
    are met.                             and test biosolids.                      EPA concluded more than 20 years can include industrial facilities that
                                                                                  of study and research when, in          separately treat wastewater or any
    For example, under the federal         Gray also referred to a recent re-     February 1993, it issued its most       other individual, corporation, or
    biosolids rule (explained later in     port by the National Research          comprehensive set of regulations        government entity that changes the
    this article), treatment plants are    Council’s Water Science and            aimed at ensuring the quality of        quality of biosolids.
    required to treat their biosolids      Technology Board that reaffirms        recycled biosolids and their safe
    using methods such as high tem-        EPA’s and WEF’s                                          application.          In addition, federal standards re-
    perature, chemical stabilization,      original positions that                                                        quire that biosolids be sampled and
    and moisture removal to substan-       treated municipal                                        By promulgating       tested. The frequency of monitor-
    tially reduce bacteria, viruses, and   wastewater biosolids             “We know                the Part 503 Rule,    ing is determined by the amount of
    protozoa. When applied to land,        can be safely used on         that our federal           as required by the    biosolids being land applied.
    these pathogens are further re-        food crops when                                          Clean Water Act
    duced by competing microorgan-         done in accordance             standards are             Amendments of         For example, biosolids generators
    isms.                                  with federal regula-         doing a good job            1987, EPA estab-      that produce a dry weight of
                                           tions.                                                   lished quality crite- biosolids equal to or greater than
    Additional safeguards to health
                                                                           of managing
                                                                                                    ria for biosolids by 1,500 metric tons but less than
    and the environment are afforded       This report, The Use       biosolids; however,           setting strict limits 15,000 metric tons should be
    by site and crop harvesting restric-   of Reclaimed Water         nothing is perfect.”          for trace metals,     monitored once per 60 days, or six
    tions. Those biosolids that are        and Sludge in Food                                       enforcing substan- times a year, according to the Part
    composted and heat-dried are           Crop Production,               John Walker,              tial reduction of     503 Rule.
    virtually pathogen-free.               was produced by an                                       pathogens, moni-
                                           independent group of              U.S. EPA               toring contami-       Informing the Public
    In most cases, people do not real-     experts following                                        nants, restricting    EPA, WEF, and regional, state,
    ize that these biosolids are closely   three years of study                                     site access, mini-    and local biosolids organizations
    regulated, according to Walker,        that examined the                                        mizing odor, pre-     are providing extensive informa-
    and people sometimes assume that       adequacy of existing regulations       venting runoff, and ensuring that       tion in an effort to inform the pub-
    untreated, raw sewage is being         for pathogens, trace metals, or-       biosolids are applied at agronomic lic of the benefits of properly
    applied to the land.                   ganic compounds; effects on soil,      rates. (See related article discuss-    treated biosolids.
                                           crop, and groundwater; and legal,      ing the Part 503 Rule in the Small
    Media Alarm                            economic, and institutional issues. Flows Summer 1996 issue.)                  EPA is working with biosolids
    Recent negative reports about          (This report is available through                                              stakeholders to develop “Codes of
    biosolids, such as a three-part        the National Academy Press for         In creating the rule, EPA worked        Good Practice.” Walker said that
    series by CNN in June 1997, titled     $29, plus shipping, by calling 800- with a variety of biosolids “stake-        this group consists of a variety of
    “Hazardous Harvest,” portray           624-6242.)                             holders,” including farmers and         professionals whose common goal
    biosolids and untreated sewage                                                soil scientists, to examine every       is to promote sound practices that
    sludge as one and the same.            EPA concludes that decades of          aspect of wastewater solids in the      not only meet state and federal
                                           research on biosolids has shown        environment, including their im-        regulations but also minimize
                                                                                  pact on groundwater, air and soil       nuisances and are neighbor
     Biosolids Reuse                                                              quality, and surface runoff.            friendly, in addition to exploring
                                                                                                                          new measures to ensure that
            Current beneficial use                Breakout of beneficial          Not only are biosolids regulated        biosolids produced are as safe as
            and disposal practices                land application uses           stringently at the federal level, but possible. The group then shares its
                                                                                  they are also monitored at the state findings with EPA and distributes
                                                                                  and local levels. Every state has its helpful information to the public.
                                                                                  own biosolids regulations criteria
                                                                                  that meet and often exceed the          “We know that our federal stan-
                                                                                  requirements established by Part        dards are doing a good job of man-
                                                                                  503.                                    aging biosolids; however, nothing
                                                                                                                          is perfect. So our stakeholders
                                                                                  To further ensure that land-applied meet to discuss what areas need
                                                                                  biosolids generated from a waste-       more attention and what should be
                                                                                  water treatment plant meet Part         done about it,” Walker said.
       Surface disposal 10%
                                                                                  503 standards, EPA and state regu-
                                              Other land application 4%
                                                                                  lations require wastewater treat-       He explained that one issue the
       Incineration 15%                       Land reclamation 4%
                                                                                  ment facilities to apply for a          group has focused a lot of attention
       Beneficial land application 36%        Forest and parks 11%
                                                                                  biosolids application permit, ex-       on is exploring the public’s general
       Landfilled 38%                         Composting and commercial 16% plaining quality, quantity, and               concern with biosolids odor. Even
                                              Agricultural land 66%               ultimate use or disposal of the
    Source: U.S. EPA                                                              biosolids they produce.                 Continued on next page

6                                                                                                                SMALL FLOWS-Fall 1997; Vol.11, No. 4
                                                                                  Biosolids Contacts
                                                                                For more information concerning biosolids, call the U.S. EPA
   Continued from previous page          tion materials, conference listings,   biosolids representative nearest you. Check below for the
                                         regulations listings, networking       biosolids contact in your region.
   though EPA has no current evi-        opportunities, and links to other
   dence that environmental or human related homepages.                          Region 1
   health problems result from the                                               (CT, ME, MA, NH, RI, VT)                  Thelma Hamilton (617) 565-3969
   odor of biosolids, to lessen the      At the regional level, stakeholder
   cause for concern a group of pro-     associations such as the Northwest      Region 2
   fessionals will be assembled to       Biosolids Management Associa-           (NJ, NY, PR, VI)                          Alia Roufaeal (212) 264-8663
   assess odors.                         tion (NBMA) promote the benefi-
                                         cial uses of biosolids management       Region 3
   Walker added that other key issues among member agencies (sewer-              (DE, DC, MD, PA, VA, WV)                  Ann Carkhuff (215) 597-9406
   discussed include the transporta-     age plants in the northwest U.S.);
   tion and storage of biosolids, ways industry; local, state, and federal       Region 4
   to further regulate industrial waste, regulators; and the public.             (AL, FL, GA, KY, MS, NC, SC, TN)          Vince Miller (404) 347-2391
   and exploring how the production
   of biosolids compares to that of      The NBMA promotes public edu-           Region 5
   animal waste and other waste by-      cation about biosolids management       (IL, IN, MI, MN, OH, WI)                  Ash Sajjad (312) 886-6112
   products.                             options and provides continuing
                                         education for its members.              Region 6
   In the future, EPA, the U.S. De-                                              (AR, LA, NM, OK, TX)                      Stephanie Kordzi (214) 655-7520
   partment of Agriculture, universi-    Some of NBMA’s recent activities
   ties, and other wastewater profes-    include a monthly newsletter, an        Region 7
   sionals will be exploring new         annual biosolids conference for         (IA, KS, MO, NE)                          John Dunn (913) 551-7594
   biosolids issues such as advanced     northwestern states, the distribu-
   treatment, productive uses, and       tion of more than 20,000 informa-       Region 8
   tailor-making biosolids and other     tion folders and fact sheets, train-    (CO, MT, ND, SD, UT, WY)                  Bob Brobst (303) 293-1627
   by-products for special uses yield- ing sessions, the development of a
   ing a variety of environmental        homepage (http:/www.nwbiosolids.        Region 9
   benefits.                             org), and demonstration projects at     (AZ, CA, HI, NV, AS, GU)                  Lauren Fondahl (415) 744-1909
                                         area farms.
   Educational Efforts                                                           Region 10
   WEF is also making strides in         Although NBMA’s members and             (AK, ID, OR, WA)                          Dick Hetherington (206) 553-1941
   promoting the benefits of biosolids many of their projects are in Wash-
   recycling by educating the public     ington, Oregon, Idaho, Alaska,          EPA Headquarters                          Wendy Bell (202) 260-9534
   through a variety of information      and Canada, their public outreach
   avenues. WEF produces several         and information publications on
   biosolids resources including a       biosolids are available to anyone.
   monthly newsletter, publications,
   and fact sheets that are available to For more information concerning
                                                                                 Biosolids Information Available from NSFC
   the public. WEF also sponsors a       biosolids, the Part 503 Rule, con-
   variety of conferences, teleconfer- tacts, and EPA’s efforts toward          The following biosolids publications are available from the
   ences, and on-line discussion         enhancing biosolids public aware-      National Small Flows Clearinghouse (NSFC). To order one or
   groups that bring together the        ness, contact EPA’s Office of          more of the following, call (800) 624-8301 or (304) 293-4191.
   major stakeholders in the biosolids Wastewater Management at (202)
   arena, as well as involving the       260-7356. EPA information is also       Land Application of Sewage Sludge and Domestic Septage
   public’s input.                       available on the Internet at http://    Item #WWBKDM82
   WEF offers an Internet homepage                                               Biosolids Recycling: Beneficial Technology for a Better Environment
   (                  For more biosolids information          Item #WWBLGN59
   biosolids.html) that provides up-     from WEF, contact Loraine Logan
   dated biosolids coverage from         at (703) 684-2487. And for more         Guide to the Biosolids Risk Assessment for the EPA Part 503 Rule
   around the country, newsletter        information from NBMA, call
   samples, contacts, public informa- (206) 684-1145.                            Item #WWBKGN85

                                                                                 Standards for Use and Disposal of Sewage Sludge 40 CFR Part 503
                                                                                 Item #WWBKRG35
   WEF Offers Several Biosolids Products
                                                                                 Plain English Guide to the EPA Part 503 Biosolids Rule
   The Water Environment Fed-            that “covers every aspect of
   eration (WEF) offers several          biosolids management.” The              Item #WWBKRG38
   products that deal with biosolids     bulletin addresses biosolids
   issues.                               topics such as processing, han-         Part 503 Implementation Guidance
                                         dling, management, and benefi-          Item #WWBKRG50
   The Biosolids Public Accep-           cial uses.
   tance Digest includes recent                                                  Small Flows Summer 1996 issue
   articles from the WEF publica-        For more information concern-           Item #GNNLBI36
   tion Water Environment &              ing these and other biosolids
   Technology and papers pre-            products, contact WEF at (800)          All of the above items are free, however a shipping fee will be charged.
   sented at WEF conferences.            666-0206, or send an e-mail
                                         message to                Biosolids Management Handbook for Small Publicly Owned
   The Biosolids Technical Bulletin                                              Treatment Works
   is a 16-page bimonthly publication                                            Item #WWBKMGO2. Cost is $37.50, plus shipping.

SMALL FLOWS-Fall 1997; Vol.11, No. 4                                                                                                                          7
                 Washington State Approves Sequencing Batch Process
                        by Jeremy Canody               conventional activated sludge              A portion of the activated sludge is    State Department of Health, said
                        NSFC Staff Writer              systems carry out the same pro-            then transferred (recirculated) back    the effluent quality probably meets
                                                       cesses in separate tanks. This tech-       to the sludge separator using an        surface discharge levels, but he
                 Editor’s Note: The National Small     nology also can be retrofitted to          upflow air jet pump. This assures       added that the Washington Depart-
                 Flows Clearinghouse (NSFC) does       incorporate advanced disinfection          that the treating volume and condi-     ment of Ecology, which issues
                 not endorse specific wastewater       as well.                                   tions in the process vessel remain      National Pollution Discharge
                 treatment products or technolo-                                                  constant from batch to batch.           Elimination System (NPDES)
                 gies. The following article is pre-   In general, SBR systems have five                                                  permits, currently does not issue
                 sented in an effort to share infor-   steps that are carried out in se-          After the sludge transfer is com-       permits for surface discharging of
                 mation about emerging                 quence within the tank. These are:         plete, the clear effluent is released   individual onsite systems.
                 developments that could meet          fill, react (aeration), settle (clarifi-   from the process tank to an op-
                 readers’ onsite treatment needs.      cation), draw (decant), and idle           tional ultraviolet (UV) disinfection    Long said a Washington home-
                                                       (sludge wasting). (See graphic             unit where fecal coliforms are          owner wanting to surface dis-
                 A new process that employs            below.)                                    reduced, possibly making the efflu-     charge using this system would
                 sequencing batch reactor (SBR)                                                   ent available for reuse. The system     have to become part of a public
                 technology to treat septic tank       SBRs consist of a single process           then discharges the effluent for 30     entity within a subdivision or a
                 effluent has been added to the        tank equipped with an inlet for            minutes (five gallons per minute)       group of houses all using the same
                 Washington State Department of        effluent, air diffusers with blowers       to a subsurface drainfield or shal-     system.
                 Health’s list of approved onsite      and piping for aeration, a sludge          low trench.
                 systems and products.                 draw-off mechanism at the bottom,                                           Swett said his company is cur-
                                                       a decant mechanism to remove          Although Thomas Incorporated          rently working with Washington
                 Thomas Incorporated in Sedro          scum, and a control mechanism to claims that the quality of the efflu- environmental officials and the
                 Woolley, Washington, the devel-       time and sequence processes.          ent coming from the TRD-1000 is U.S. Environmental Protection
                 oper of the new process, claims the                                         such that it virtually eliminates the Agency to modify the state’s efflu-
                 quality of the effluent coming from The idle phase provides time for        need for a drainfield, current state ent reuse standards to develop
                 their TRD-1000 system is such         one reactor to complete its fill      laws in Washington require that       reuse options for TRD-1000 in the
                 that the drainfield becomes much      cycle prior to switching to another the system use a subsurface             future. One option being discussed
                 less critical as a final stage in the unit. This phase can be eliminated drainfield.                              involves using system effluent to
                 treatment process. This allows the when a continuous influent type of                                             drip irrigate lawns and gardens.
                 system to operate effectively in a    SBR is used.                          Tom Long, a waste management
                 wide variety of soil conditions                                             specialist with the Washington        Continued on next page
                 generally considered unacceptable The TRD-1000 process recently
                 for many onsite treatment systems. approved for use in Washington
                                                       differs somewhat from the SBR
                                                                                                     SBR Process
                 In more than two years of testing     process mentioned above in that it        The sequencing batch reactor process includes five treatment
                 performed by NSF International        is installed at a single-family resi-     steps that occur in series in the same process tank.
                 (formerly the National Sanitation     dence and not a treatment plant.
                 Foundation), the system consis-       This system also does not use any
                 tently produced effluent with bio-    moving valves—it relies on a
                 logical oxygen demand (BOD) of        pressure air lock mechanism to
                 less than 2 mg/l (milligrams per      pump the liquid through the sys-
                 liter) and total suspended solids     tem. It operates using an auto-
                 (TSS) of less than 2 mg/l—levels      mated on-board computer and                                    Fill 1
                 that exceed NSF International’s       modem.
                 Standard 40 for Class I Effluent
                 (30/30 BOD/TSS).                      How the System Works
                                                       Thomas Swett, Thomas Incorpo-
                 The system also consistently          rated president and system
                 achieved good nitrate and fecal
                 coliform (FC) reduction as well
                                                       co-designer, said TRD-1000 is
                                                       capable of treating 130 gallons of
                                                                                                                 React     2

                 (30-day average of 47 FC/l). Influ- wastewater every three hours
                 ent levels ranged from 180 to 220     under the same conditions and
                 mg/l for BOD and TSS.                 timing of aeration, coagulant dos-
                                                       ing, mixing, settling, and sludge
                 What is SBR technology?
                 An alternative to conventional
                                                       return.                                                   Settle    3
                 activated sludge treatment, SBR       He explained that waste flowing
                 technology is capable of achieving from the house enters a dual-cham-
                 high levels of BOD and TSS re-        bered processing tank (standard
                 moval—producing effluent con-         septic tank) where primary treat-
                 centrations of less than 10 mg/l.     ment and settling take place. Once
                                                       the effluent level in the SBR cham-                       Draw      4
                 SBR technology is a fill and draw     ber reaches 130 gallons, an airlock                                                                  Effluent
                 activated sludge treatment system     valve stops the flow from the
                 that is similar to conventional       septic tank to begin treatment. The
                 activated sludge systems used in      system then sequentially treats the
                 municipal wastewater treatment        effluent by aeration through
                 facilities. However, the SBR pro-     activated sludge in a process that                            Idle  5
                 cess allows for sedimentation and     includes chemical flocculation,
                 clarification to take place sequen-   which helps further water treatment.
                 tially in the same tank, whereas

             8                                                                                                                   SMALL FLOWS-Fall 1997; Vol.11, No. 4
                                               L E T T E R S                           T O            T H E                E D I T O R                               1991 & 1993

   Continued from previous page           System Features                       “flush and forget,” according to         The system, including installation,
                                          Thomas Incorporated manufac-          Swett. They developed the idea for       retails for approximately $9,000–
   Computerized Monitoring System         tures SBR systems that can treat      this type of SBR system after visit-     $12,000. Annual maintenance
   The TRD-1000 relies on a comput-       500 to 1,000 gallons of effluent per ing Europe. They combined every-          costs to a homeowner with the
   erized 24-hour telemonitoring          day (gpd). Swett explained that the thing they liked about Swedish,            system are $150 if the system has
   system to control system opera-        system can be installed with a new Norwegian, Danish, Finnish, and             UV disinfection, and $120 without
   tion, alarms, and monitoring.          or existing dual-chambered septic     German technologies.                     UV disinfection. These costs in-
                                          tank, and added that the SBR sys-                                              clude all general maintenance,
   Swett explained that with its on-      tem encompasses an                                     “After a lot of trial   bulb and filter replacement, and
   board computer, designed by his        area similar in size                                   and error, we devel-    servicing.
   associate Brian Lipscomb, the          to a septic tank. The      “After a lot of trial       oped a great system
   system knows exactly what to do        state requires a mini-        and error, we            that should some        Service agreements between the
   and when to determine if the func-     mum lot size of                                        day virtually elimi-    buyer and a certified service con-
   tion was completed properly.           12,500 square feet
                                                                     developed a great           nate the need for a     tractor are mandatory upon instal-
                                          for the installation of   system that should           drainfield,” he said.   lation and can be set up through
   The control system includes an         this system.                                                                   the company. Swett added that any
                                                                    some day virtually
   LCD display interface, modem and                                                              Swett said the sys-     licensed installer can easily be
   telephone line interface, and visual   Swett said the unit is eliminate the need for tem utilizes several             certified by his company to do the
   and audible alarm outputs.             self-contained and            a drainfield.”           features to keep        work.
                                          can be installed and                                   costs down for the
   The computer is capable of execut-     removed for reloca-         Thomas Swett,              homeowner. For          Thomas Incorporated currently has
   ing instructions at a rate of 5 mil-   tion if necessary.                                     example, a single       two of its TRD 1000 systems in-
   lion per second, and it can store      Since it is self-con-   Thomas Incorporated air compressor                     stalled at homes in Washington.
   sequencing data, alarm thresholds,     tained, it can be              president               above ground,           Swett said they are seeing consis-
   alarm actions, and event log data      placed in or above                                     which has no mov-       tently good results that match NSF
   for the previous 50 batches and 50     ground and can be                                      ing parts in the        International’s testing results.
   alarms. Its analog sensors monitor     installed above the septic tank to    tank, is used to perform all of the
   UV intensity in the disinfection       save space. This will not affect the system’s pump flows.                      For more information on the TRD-
   chamber, tank water levels, and air    operation of the system, he said.                                              1000, contact Swett at (360) 856-
   pressure.                                                                    Swett said since there are no mov-       0550. To contact Long at the
                                          These systems are designed to treat ing parts in the system, there is          Washington Department of Health,
   Swett said if there is a malfunc-      effluent from single-family homes nothing to replace. Other features           call (360) 586-8133.
   tion, the computer will shut down      or multi-family dwellings, such as include UV disinfecting bulbs that
   the system and use a modem to          apartments or duplexes, that use a are on only when the system is              To find out more about SBR sys-
   contact company headquarters           single treatment system but do not discharging in order to extend the          tems in general, contact NSFC at
   with a description of the problem.     exceed flow rates of 1,000 gpd.       life of the bulb. The system also        (800) 624-8301 or (304) 293-4191
   A maintenance person will then be                                            uses pressure sensors instead of         and ask for a technical assistant.
   dispatched.                            The TRD-1000 was designed with plant switches to maintain tank
                                          homeowners in mind so they could levels and manifold pressure.

   Small Community’s Call to NSFC Results in Big Savings
   Continued from page 1                  tically cut the cost of a wastewater   This firm offered a plan that would     “A clearinghouse for information
                                          project.)                              require only one acre of land, have     for something so significant as
   already been spent on the project,                                            low operation and maintenance           sewage is a really valuable re-
   the town learned that some funding    NSFC Contacted                          costs, and would cost the city          source,” Gnaedinger said of the
   had fallen through and the state      While speaking with several             approximately $1.5 million—far          NSFC.
   could locate only $4 million–$5       people at the seminar, Gnaedinger       less than the original $6 million
   million for the estimated $6 mil-     was given the National Small            estimate.                               The information and contacts pro-
   lion lagoon system.                   Flows Clearinghouse’s (NSFC)                                                    vided by the NSFC helped Palouse
                                         phone number and told to contact        The Biolac Treatment System             officials contact people and organi-
   Ed Gnaedinger, who had just left      the organization for help. He           installed in Palouse includes an        zations that were able to help them
   his city council position, attended a contacted Todd Olson, NSFC              aerated lagoon with an integrated       develop and install a successful
   Small Towns Environment Pro-          technical assistance specialist,        clarifier. Solids gravitate to one      system and cut costs by more
   gram (STEP) meeting in Spokane, who suggested that the city                   end and then into a separate com-       than half.
   Washington, to learn how to break investigate an innovative biologi-          partment. The system then uses
   the news to town residents.           cal treatment process he had            ultraviolet disinfection to further     “Our job here at the clearinghouse
                                         recently seen demonstrated. Olson       treat the effluent. The treatment       is to help people,” Olson said. “It’s
   STEP helps rural towns identify       offered Gnaedinger several con-         produces good quality sludge,           always nice to hear back from
   and capitalize on untapped com-       tacts, including a city in New York     which is extracted and land applied.    people who’ve benefited from the
   munity resources to afford water      that had faced a similar situation.                                             information we provide.”
   and wastewater projects.                                                      The effluent discharged by
                                         After studying the innovative tech-     Palouse’s new system has a BOD          For assistance with your
   “(The city) wanted to raise rates to nology and contacting a city in          of 5mg/l, TSS level of 5 mg/1, and      community’s wastewater treatment
   finance this project, and the people similar circumstances, Palouse           a TKN of .9mg/1.                        needs, contact the NSFC’s techni-
   were going to have to give up their officials terminated the contract                                                 cal assistance specialists at (800)
   Saturdays to get out their shovels    with the engineering firm. To           The water is now cleaner than the       624-8301.
   and help dig.” (An article on page evaluate the viability of this tech-       river into which it is discharged.
   11 explains how one Washington        nology for their needs, the city        The new system has even weath-
   community’s self-help efforts dras- hired another engineering firm.           ered a flood.

SMALL FLOWS-Fall 1997; Vol.11, No. 4                                                                                                                             9
               Help for Colonias
               EPA Assists Poor Communities on U.S.–Mexico Border
                      by Michelle Moore                 ronmental conditions along the        projects are underway, 39 of them      or septic tanks. More than $4 mil-
finance            NSFC Contributing Writer             border.                               having progressed to the design or
                                                                                              construction phase. The combined
                                                                                                                                     lion has been used by several
                                                                                                                                     communities to date.
               Many families have moved to the          Because of the lack of sanitation     improvements will help 282,000
               areas along the U.S.–Mexico bor-         facilities, raw sewage flows          colonias residents.                    New Mexico’s Environment De-
               der with hopes of good jobs and a        through and from these communi-                                              partment has received $20 million
               better life, but the living conditions   ties. Often, pit privies stand near   Tough laws have helped stop the        from the EPA. This program offers
               in the poorest border communities        shallow wells, contaminating the      building of new colonias. Never-       grants and low interest loans to
               leave much to be desired.                only source of drinking water.        theless, recent surveys by Texas       sponsoring local governments to
                                                        Waterborne diseases such as infec-    officials show that infrastructure     construct or improve sewers and
               Many immigrants could afford to          tious hepatitis and gastroenteric     needs have increased with the          wastewater treatment facilities. So
                                                                                              continued growth in already-estab-     far, $14 million has been awarded
                                                                                              lished colonias.                       for 13 projects in New Mexico’s
                                                                                                                                     colonias, with four of them under
                                                                                              Three programs help with colonia       design or construction.
                                                                                              infrastructure improvements in
                                                                                              Texas:                                 Boosting Awareness
                                                                                                                                     “Progress is being made not only
                                                                                              The Economically Distressed            in the construction of projects, but
                                                                                              Areas Program, a Texas state           other benefits are occurring,”
                                                                                              funded program, offers grants and      Hogye said. “There has been an
                                   U.S.                                                       loans for wastewater disposal          increase in community awareness
                                                 colonias                                     facilities or water supply improve-    of problems and in the involve-
                                                                                              ments.                                 ment of residents toward resolving
                                                                                                                                     these problems.
                                                                                              Similarly, the Colonias Wastewa-
                                                                                              ter Treatment Assistance Program       “Some communities are actively
                                                                                              offers assistance for construction,    engaged in self-help projects, for
                                          Mexico                                              acquisition, or improvements of        example, where residents are as-
                                                                                              wastewater facilities in border        sisting in construction, such as the
                                                                                              colonias.                              digging of trenches to run pipe
                                                                                                                                     connections from the home to
               The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is helping communities on
                                                                                              The Colonias Plumbing Loan             water and wastewater lines. And,
               the U.S.–Mexico border improve their environmental infrastructure.
                                                                                              Program began in 1991 with a $15       while EPA has not directly given
                                                                                              million grant from the EPA. The        any grants specifically for colonia
               buy only properties that consisted   infections are common, and chol-          program offers loans to local gov-     self-help projects, the agency defi-
               of shoddy housing on unproductive era is always an ominous threat,             ernments, who then provide loans       nitely supports the concept,”
               plots of land.                       according to the U.S. Environmental       to area residents for assistance in    Hogye added.
                                                    Protection Agency (EPA).                  installing basic plumbing facilities
               The term colonia, which is Spanish                                             plus connections to sewer systems Continued on page 12
               for neighborhood, has been applied Working Toward Solutions
               to the unincorporated subdivisions The EPA is actively involved in
               characterized by substandard hous- remedying the problems associated           Colonias Information on the Internet
               ing, poor access to potable water,   with the colonias. The greatest
               and no wastewater sanitation fa-     needs are for sewage collection,    The Internet has many sites with colonias information. The sites
               cilities. The colonias, as a whole,  treatment, and disposal; potable    include information about public facilities and social and environ-
               lack any kind of infrastructure, and water supply; and residential       mental justice issues. Among the sites are:
               the inhabitants’ incomes prevent     plumbing.
               them from being able to finance                                            Texas A&M Colonias Program:
               municipal improvements on their      “Of all the environmental public
               own.                                 health problems along the U.S.
                                                    side of the border, those of the
                                                                                          Economically Distressed Area Program of the Texas Water
               Three hundred thousand or so         colonias are the most severe,” said
                                                                                          Development Board:
               people live in colonias along the    Steve Hogye, project manager for
               U.S. side of the border. Most        EPA’s Colonia Wastewater Assis-
               growth has been in Texas and New tance Program. “EPA’s goal has
               Mexico, where 1,200 of the settle- been to establish a cooperative         Colonias Issues from the Texas Attorney General:
               ments have sprung up along the       funding partnership with the states
               border. While colonias residents     to address the urgent wastewater
               are largely Hispanic in origin, most needs identified in colonias that     Texas/Mexico Borderlands Data and Information Center:
               are U.S. citizens, and many fami-    were built prior to the adoption of
               lies have been in this country for   recent land use legislation.”
               generations.                                                               LBJ School of Public Affairs, Colonias Policy Research Project:
                                                    Since 1993 the EPA has invested
               Living conditions in the colonias    $270 million in grants to Texas
               were brought to the forefront with and New Mexico for wastewater           LBJ School of Public Affairs Public Research Policy Report on
               passage of the North American        facilities. In Texas, where pro-      Colonias Housing and Infrastructure:
               Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)         grams are overseen by the state
               and subsequent concern for envi-     Water Development Board, 89

          10                                                                                                                 SMALL FLOWS-Fall 1997; Vol.11, No. 4
   Community Uses ‘Self Help’ to Save Money
           by P.J. Cameon
          Small Flows Editor

   Faced with a troubled wastewater
   system and a hefty price estimate
   to address the problems, residents
   of a small Washington community
   took matters into their own hands.

   The town of Wilkeson, with just
   over 400 residents, is one of many
   communities around the country
   that have made the most of local
   talents and resources by using the
   self-help concepts espoused by the
   Small Towns Environment Pro-
   gram (STEP).

   Wilkeson’s wastewater system
   could not meet its discharge permit
   requirements due to a failing col-
   lection system with high levels of
   inflow and infiltration (I/I) during
   wet weather, inadequate treatment,
   and high ammonia levels. The
   system also lacked an alternate        Communities can dramatically reduce the costs of their wastewater system projects if residents
   source of power to pump sewage         are willing to roll up their sleeves and do some of the work themselves. Residents of Wilkeson,
   through lift stations during power     Washington, pitched in to replace portions of their treatment system. Photo by David Pierini/The
   outages.                               (Tacoma) News Tribune

   “We were faced with a $1.2 million     The cost savings was terrific. For     upgrade is being put out to bid.       Is STEP possible in your town?
   price tag to upgrade our treatment     example, having an outside expert      Town officials were recently noti-     The idea of residents pitching in to
   plant, lift stations, and collection   complete the facilities plan would     fied that the Washington Depart-       help their community is not a new
   system,” said Paula Perry, the         have cost about $10,000, but com-      ment of Ecology is awarding the        one. But the guidance provided in
   Wilkeson resident spearheading the     munity volunteers spent just $90       community a grant for the treat-       the STEP process can help apply
   community’s self-help effort, which    by updating a previously prepared      ment plant upgrade.                    that volunteer spirit to even an
   was dubbed “STEP Wilkeson.”            plan.                                                                         intricate project such as a waste-
                                                                                 “‘STEP Wilkeson’ will remain           water system upgrade.
   The construction expenses, spread      The first phase of the system up-      actively involved in all phases of
   over such a small population base,     grade, replacing a large portion of    construction,” Perry said. “We are     For a STEP effort to be successful,
   would have resulted in a six-fold      the collection system to address I/I   planning to build the laboratory
   increase in sewage rates. Such a       concerns, is well underway. Town       facility ourselves.”                   Continued on page 12
   hike would have been especially        residents have already replaced the
   painful for the one-third of town      main sewer line.
   residents who are retired, unem-
                                                                                  Self Help Requires Cooperative Engineers
   ployed, or living below the poverty “It took us a long time, but we did
                                        a really good job. And working            Before starting a “self-help” water   To order a Selecting Your Engi-
                                        together really did build commu-          or wastewater project, it’s best to   neer binder, send $15.00 plus $3
                                        nity spirit,” said Perry. “Now            make sure the engineer hired for      postage to Small Towns Environ-
   Residents Take Control
                                        we’ve got the town council to pass        the project shares the community’s    ment Program, The
   After consulting with STEP and
                                        an ordinance allowing us to re-           enthusiasm for the concept, ac-       Rensselaerville Institute, P.O.
   representatives of Washington’s
                                        place side sewers as laterals.”           cording to Jane Schautz.              Box 128, Rensselaerville, NY
   Department of Ecology, town
                                                                                                                        12147, or call (518) 797-3783.
   residents decided to complete
                                        The town had received an estimate         Schautz is vice president of The
   much of the work themselves.
                                                                                  Rensselaerville Institute, a na-    An additional resource concern-
   Janice Roderick and Kathy Kupps of $150,000 to replace the collec-
                                        tion system, but with community           tional organization that guides     ing the selection of a consultant
   with the Department of Ecology
                                        volunteers, the work is being com-        communities planning self-help      is the Winter 1997 issue of Pipe-
   have been supportive of the self-
                                                                                  and development projects.           line. The newsletter, titled
   help effort, visiting the community pleted for less than $30,000.
                                                                                                                      “Choosing the Right Consultant
   several times.
                                        “Saving that much money benefits          The Rensselaerville Institute       for your Wastewater Project,”
                                        not only the town of Wilkeson but         recently published Selecting Your includes suggestions for develop-
   Residents gathered community
                                        the state as well,” Perry said.           Engineer, a how-to guide for        ing requests for proposals,
   data concerning income, popula-
                                        “Now they can take the balance of         selecting the best project consult- screening proposals, interview-
   tion, and number of households.
                                        the money they had set aside for          ant. The guide discusses prelimi- ing candidates, and negotiating
   The information was required for
                                        our project and use it on another         nary considerations in selecting    contracts. To order, contact the
   grant and loan applications they
                                                                                  an engineer and provides actual     National Small Flows Clearing-
   completed. Residents also prepared project elsewhere.”
                                                                                  questions to use in checking        house at (800) 624-8301. Re-
   a facilities plan, conducted a
                                                                                  references and interviewing and     quest Item #SFPLNL08. The cost
   search for and hired a project engi- Community residents do not have
                                                                                  assessing candidates. Sample        is 20 cents.
   neer, obtained property easements, the capability to complete the
                                        entire project, however. Work             requests for proposals and other
   and negotiated prices for project
                                        relating to the treatment plant           relevant documents are included.
   materials and equipment.

SMALL FLOWS-Fall 1997; Vol.11, No. 4                                                                                                                           11
      EPA Small Community Chief To Assist Border Agencies
      The chief of the U.S. Environmen-        border. The two international orga-   NADBank is leading the effort to        programs that will help border
      tal Protection Agency’s (EPA)            nizations were established under      finance, identify funding sources,      communities (small communities
      Municipal Assistance Branch has          side agreements that were signed      and blend loan and grant funds in       in particular).
      been given a new assignment to           along with the North American         such a way that projects will be
      aid environmental infrastructure         Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)          affordable for the border commu-        No successor to Allbee has been
      development along the U.S.–              in November 1993.                     nities. NADBank has a loan capac-       named. However, EPA officials
      Mexico border.                                                                 ity of about $2 billion. NADBank        stressed that their efforts to provide
                                               The organizations are tasked with     also manages a $170-million Bor-        small communities with wastewa-
      Steve Allbee will depart from his        assisting communities on both         der Environment Infrastructure          ter treatment assistance will remain
      current position this fall for the       sides of the border to develop        Fund, which offers EPA-funded           a priority. These efforts include the
      one-year assignment.                     infrastructure projects to address    grants to be used in conjunction        National Small Flows Clearing-
                                               environmental and public health       with loans.                             house, National Environmental
      Allbee will assist the Border Envi-      problems, especially those with a                                             Training Center for Small Commu-
      ronment Cooperation Commission           cross-border impact.              In his new assignment, Allbee will          nities, Rural Community Assis-
      (BECC) and the North American                                              help to expedite projects, assist in        tance Program, the colonias pro-
      Development Bank (NADBank) in            The BECC is primarily responsible establishing funding partnerships,          gram, and tribal programs. (See
      the development of environmental         for the technical development and and facilitate the development of           page 10 for an update on efforts to
      infrastructure projects along the        screening of projects, while      training and technical assistance           assist border colonias.)

      EPA Assists Poor Border Communities                                                                                    The National Small Flows Clearinghouse,
                                                                                                                               established by the U.S. Environmental
                                                                                                                             Protection Agency under the federal Clean
                                                                                                                             Water Act (CWA) in 1977 and located at
      Continued from page 10              Bank (NADBank) and the Border              $100 million for the general border       West Virginia University, gathers and
                                          Environment Cooperation Com-               environmental infrastructure pro-           distributes information about small
      The EPA’s involvement in helping mission, the EPA helps border                 gram for fiscal year 1998.                community wastewater systems. Small
                                          communities fund water and                                                                Flows is published quarterly.
      colonias resolve their wastewater
      problems has focused on Texas’s     wastewater projects through a              For more information about EPA’s                       Small Flows
      and New Mexico’s borders, but the combination of loans and grants.             efforts, contact Oscar Cabra with                     Sponsored by:
      agency also helps fund a program    Some of the projects under consid-         EPA’s Region 6 office in Dallas,        U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
      of water and wastewater assistance eration will benefit the colonias.          Texas, at (214) 665-2718, or                  Steve Hogye, Project Officer
      to border communities in all bor-                                              Hogye at EPA Headquarters at                  Municipal Support Division
      der states, including Arizona and   EPA is requesting an appropriation         (202) 260-5841.                            Office of Wastewater Management
                                                                                                                                        Washington, D.C.
      California. In conjunction with the of $50 million from Congress for
      North American Development          its colonias assistance program and                                                  National Small Flows Clearinghouse
                                                                                                                                    West Virginia University
                                                                                                                                  John L. Mori, Ph.D., Manager,

      Community Uses ‘Self-Help’ to Save Money                                                                                     WVU Environmental Services
                                                                                                                                      and Training Division
                                                                                                                                       Peter Casey, P. Eng.
      Continued from page 11                   other ingredients needed for a        vital role in our successes. It has           NSFC Program Coordinator
                                                                                                                                       P.J. Cameon, Editor
                                               successful self-help effort—a         brought our community closer                  Jeremy Canody, Staff Writer
      the community must have an in-           dedicated group of volunteers who     together.”                                     Natalie Eddy, Staff Writer
      formed community eager to ad-            are willing to work hard and stick                                                Daniel Gloyd, Graphic Designer
      dress the problem and a supportive       with the project long-term.           Perry said her community was also
                                                                                                                              International Standard Serial Number
      town government and project engi-                                              fortunate to select a consultant                       1060-0035
      neer (see page 11).                      “The other night I was jotting        interested in seeing the community
                                               down the names of all of the          succeed with its self-help efforts.                 Article Submissions
      A community also needs a local           people who have contributed to                                                Small Flows welcomes letters to the editor,
                                                                                                                             articles, news items, photographs, or other
      “spark plug” with the energy and         this project. Frankly, I was sur-     “Our engineering firm, Gray and          materials for publication. Please address
      leadership ability to keep the           prised at how long the list was,”     Osborne of Seattle, gave us a lot of                 correspondence to:
      project going. Perry filled that role    Perry said of the Wilkeson project.   really good advice when we were
                                               “And each volunteer has played a      getting started. We were told that                Editor, Small Flows
      for Wilkeson. Wilkeson had the
                                                                                                                               National Small Flows Clearinghouse
                                                                                     the unexpected would happen and                West Virginia University
                                                                                     not to be disillusioned because                      P.O. Box 6064
                                                                                                                                 Morgantown, WV 26506-6064
Guide Discusses Homeowner Issues                                                     those things happen on every job,”
                                                                                     Perry said. “We learned to be                      1-800-624-8301 or
                                                                                                                                          (304) 293-4191
Homeowners interested in how their         more about. Topics include                patient.”                            
day-to-day activities can impact the       stormwater management,
                                                                                     Not every small community has                            Reprints
environment may be interested in           household wastewater, lead, yard
                                                                                                                               For permission to reprint information
Home*A*Syst: An Environmental              and garden care, and household            the willingness or ability to use the    appearing in Small Flows, please send a
Risk Assessment Guide for the              waste management.                         STEP method, but where STEP is                letter of request to the editor.
Home.                                                                                a fit, the savings in using local
                                                                                     skills and labor can be tremendous.            Small Flows is funded by the
                                           To order a single copy of                                                          U.S.Environmental Protection Agency.
The 122-page guide, produced by            Home*A* Syst, send $8 plus $3                                                      The contents of this newsletter do not
the Northeast Regional Agricultural        shipping and handling to NRAES,           For more information about STEP,        necessarily reflect the views and policies
Engineering Service (NRAES), is            Cooperative Extension, 152 Riley-         contact The Rensselaerville Insti-      of the Environmental Protection Agency,
                                                                                     tute at (518) 797-3783.                    nor does mention of trade names or
designed to help rural and suburban        Robb Hall, Ithaca, NY 14853-                                                      commercial products constitute endorse-
residents evaluate their homes for         5701. For information about                                                            ment or recommendation for use.
safety and environmental risks.            quantity orders, call NRAES at
                                           (607) 255-7654, or send e-mail to                                                             Small Flows is printed
                                                                                                                                          on recycled paper.
The guide covers 11 topics that  
homeowners may want to learn

 12                                                                                                                  SMALL FLOWS-Fall 1997; Vol.11, No. 4
   Is there activity in your state?
   Keeping Track of Onsite Training Centers Around the U.S.

   The National Small Flows Clear-          ties, NSFC and NETCSC are help-         State center, and developed train-         move their efforts forward,” Mori
   inghouse (NSFC) and the National         ing some organizations develop          ing materials that can be adopted          said, adding that NSFC is explor-
   Environmental Training Center for        their training centers.                 for use in other training centers.         ing the possibility of establishing
   Small Communities (NETCSC) are                                                                                              an electronic forum to allow train-
   actively following developments          “We’ve recognized this emerging         In addition, participants in               ing center directors around the
   around the U.S. concerning onsite        trend [toward developing centers to     NETCSC’s Onsite Wastewater                 U.S. to exchange information and
   wastewater treatment training centers.   improve training opportunities], and    System Operation and Mainte-               share their experiences in getting
                                            we’re working to provide assistance     nance train-the-trainer courses            training centers up and running..
   Many state-level organizations are       where we can to help get centers off    have used the courses materials
   bringing onsite centers online,          the ground,” Mori said. “We’re also     and information to help establish          To share information about your
   while others are actively working        eager to share the information we       onsite training centers in their           state’s activities concerning onsite
   toward opening centers in their          have gathered so people developing      home states. (See ordering infor-          training efforts, or to request assis-
   states. At least one state, North        new training centers don’t have to      mation below.)                             tance with your efforts, contact the
   Carolina, is planning a second-          ‘reinvent the wheel.’”                                                             NSFC at (800) 624-8301.
   generation training center to incor-                                             Tracking Activities
   porate the latest treatment tech-        The two organizations can assist        NSFC is stepping up efforts to             To order the complete Onsite
   nologies.                                trainers as they develop courses by     follow developments with onsite            Wastewater System Operation and
                                            sharing technical and training infor-   training centers around the U.S.           Maintenance Trainers Package,
   “The concept of onsite system            mation housed in their databases.       Future issues of Small Flows will          contact the NETCSC at the number
   training centers is really starting to   And NSFC continues to work with         contain updates of onsite training         above. Request Item #TRTPCD09.
   catch on, and the range of activi-       states and the U.S. Environmental       center activities.                         The cost is $273.00, plus shipping.
   ties taking place at those centers is    Protection Agency to serve as a
   expanding,” said John Mori, man-         funding manager to help states set      “By explaining what’s happening            See articles below for information
   ager of West Virginia University’s       up training centers. Previously,        with other centers, Small Flows            about onsite training center activi-
   Environmental Services and Train-        NSFC managed the development of         can help officials in other areas          ties in Florida and Alabama.
   ing Division, which includes the         the Northern New England Waste-
   NSFC and NETCSC. “Each train-            water Training Center in Vermont.
   ing center has a unique flavor that
   reflects the local partnerships that
   developed it.”
                                            NETCSC has provided funding
                                            and training support to assist the
                                                                                       Florida Group Planning Onsite
   A Helping Hand
                                            development of some of the new
                                            onsite wastewater training centers.
                                                                                       Wastewater Training Center
   With their national perspective and      It provided seed funding curricu-          A proposed onsite center in Florida         which technologies would be in-
   information processing capabili-         lum development for the Washington         would improve training efforts in           stalled at the proposed center.
                                                                                       that state and possibly beyond,             Lynch said the state Department of
                                                                                       according to Bob Lynch, executive           Health is providing input on this
   Alabama Onsite Center Tackles                                                       director of the Florida Septic Tank         matter, and he added that the deci-
                                                                                       Association (FSTA).                         sion will also depend on which
   Challenging Conditions                                                              Lynch said the training center
                                                                                                                                   technologies are appropriate for
                                                                                                                                   the selected site.
   The new Alabama Onsite Waste-            filter, a peat system, a constructed       would be beneficial to his
   water Training Center will provide       wetland, a low-pressure distribu-          organization’s 400-plus members             Lynch mentioned that several
   a first-hand opportunity to deal         tion system, and a drip emitter            who are among more than 700                 dozen registered Florida contrac-
   with site conditions that can lead to    system. Additional technologies            registered septic tank contractors in       tors have completed the 30 addi-
   onsite system failure.                   may be added later.                        Florida. He added that the tourist          tional hours of coursework needed
                                                                                       attractions in his state could help         to be certified as master septic tank
   The center is located near the Uni-      Course Offerings Planned                   the center draw a national audience.        contractors. He said some of these
   versity of West Alabama in               The onsite training center is sched-                                                   master contractors could be tapped
   Livingston. Nearby soils do not          uled to be in full operation by            “It’s going to open all kinds of            as teaching faculty at the new
   perc adequately for conventional         spring 1998. The center plans to           training options. The members are           training center.
   septic systems to work properly,         offer classes to installers, public        very excited about it,” Lynch said.
   according to Lesley Garner, the          health workers, and the general            Currently, FSTA’s onsite training is        Lynch said the training center could
   center’s director. The state Depart-     public. Classes offered will in-           limited to classroom lectures. Al-          eventually serve as permanent
   ment of Public Health recently           volve system installation and              though there is no set timetable for        headquarters for the organization,
   estimated that 90 percent of the         maintenance and discussions of             construction, Lynch said he is hope-        but he stressed that the organization
   current onsite disposal systems in       new technologies.                          ful the training center could be            is currently focused on getting the
   this area of Alabama will eventu-                                                   opened sometime during 1998, the            training aspects finalized.
   ally fail.                               “Our long-range goal is to develop         organization’s silver anniversary.
                                            a year-round training center that                                                      Lynch noted that an onsite waste-
   “A training center was needed            includes examples of all new tech-         Currently, members are exploring            water research facility is operating
   because most traditional septic          nologies that work in the South,”          legal issues, studying proposed             in the Florida Keys, but the pro-
   tank systems will not work in this       said Garner.                               sites, and learning about similar           posed FSTA facility would be the
   area—installers, public health                                                      training centers in other states. He        first in the state “in terms of a
   officials, and local citizens needed     For more information about the             said a central Florida location is          hands-on training center.”
   to be educated on alternative            Alabama onsite training center,            likely, but other sites are being
   wastewater systems,” Garner said.        contact Garner at (205) 652-3400,          investigated as well. A final deci-         For more information about the
                                            ext. 3242. Her e-mail address is           sion on a site is expected this fall.       proposed onsite training center in
   The training center will offer five                                                                Florida, contact Lynch at (904)
   alternative technologies—a sand                                                     The organization is also still studying     454-4030.

SMALL FLOWS-Fall 1997; Vol.11, No. 4                                                                                                                                    13
               ‘Outhouse Specialist’ Fans Nostalgia for Simpler Days
                     by Michelle Moore                                                                                             authorities on outhouses and their
                  NSFC Contributing Writer                                                                                         accouterments.

               Sam Robertson can claim his                                                                                         Although outhouse use in the U.S.
               unofficial title of “outhouse spe-                                                                                  today is largely limited to special-
               cialist” honestly. He frequently                                                                                    ized applications, Robertson said
               encountered outhouse-related                                                                                        that many poor and remote rural
               issues during his more than 20                                                                                      residents in the U.S. still use them
               years with the Alabama Depart-                                                                                      as a primary means of wastewater
               ment of Public Health.                                                                                              disposal.

               From school sanitation to onsite                                                                                    “Outhouses are still legally used
               waste treatment systems,                                                                                            today in Alabama, as well as a
               Robertson lived in a world of                                                                                       number of other states that have
               specifications and regulations.                                                                                     residences without running water
               For him and his colleagues, hu-                                                                                     available,” Robertson explained.
               mor lightened that world.
                                                                                                                                   “I love outhouses for their age and
               “I began collecting environment-                                                                                    character. However, they are not
               related cartoons and was known                                                                                      the most desirable means of sew-
               to post them on the office bulle-                                                                                   age treatment. The waste is treated
               tin board or on my office wall.                                                                                     by anaerobic bacteria, which is less
               One of my duties was training                                                                                       effective than the aerobic bacteria
               environmental and industry per-                                                                                     that assist with treatment in an
               sonnel, so I naturally used car-                                                                                    effluent disposal ditch.”
               toons throughout my presenta-
               tions to highlight special points                                                                                   According to Still Living Without
               or just to break up dull sections                                                                                   the Basics, a report published by
               such as regulations.”                                                                                               the National Rural Community

                                                                                                                                   Assistance Program in 1995, more
               A good trainer needs to inject                                                                                      than 400,000 rural households do
               humor into a presentation,                                                                                          not have complete bathrooms that
               Robertson added. “I’ve even                                                                                         include a flush toilet, a bathtub or
               heard of instructors starting a                                                                                     shower, and a wash basin with
                                                     Sam Robertson came across this display outhouse while visiting an
               class in costume to make the          amusement park in Alabama. Robertson gained an interest in                    piped-in water.
               subject more interesting. Dry         outhouses during his career in public health.
               presentations are boring! You                                                                                       Robertson has had plenty of oppor-
               can’t be funny to everyone, but                                                                                     tunities to hone his expertise on the
               you can try.”                       Posters Spur Collection                  For instance, last year he spoke at    dynamics of the outhouse in his
                                                   While looking through old health         a meeting in Connecticut and was       home state. According to the re-
               Beginning his career with the       department files, Robertson found        given an outhouse-shaped gumball       port, Alabama ranked seventh
               Montgomery County Health De-        some pit privy posters dated 1947.       dispenser by a salesman from           nationwide with nearly 44,000
               partment in 1973, Robertson rose    He found old outhouse bulletins,         Georgia.                               houses having no basic indoor
               through the ranks to become         blueprints for construction, old                                                plumbing. Robertson said the
               deputy director of the Division of  photographs, and several issues of       That’s not all—by any means.           World Health Organization notes
               Community Environmental Protec- Pit Privy News from the 1940s.                                                      that various types of privies are
               tion and director of the Soil and                                            “My collection also includes an-       still widely used in many Third
               Onsite Sewage Branch, the posi-     “My interest in outhouses had            tique postcards from the 1940s,        World countries as well.
               tion from which he retired in 1995. begun,” Robertson said. From that        photographs, prints, posters, greet-
               He has coordinated many onsite      moment, he began to find outhouse        ing cards, a Father’s Day card         Outhouse Evolution
               sewage disposal conferences and     motifs in all sorts of unlikely          made by my daughter, and water-        The outhouse, also known as the
               has overseen a constructed wet-     places—like in newspaper comic           color paintings. I have outhouses      privy, john, backhouse, donnicker,
               lands project in northeast Ala-     strips. “I’m a newspaper lover and       painted on old “potty” or “slop jar”   ajax, or loo, served mankind for cen-
               bama.                               read my daily paper from cover to        lids, ceramic tile, tobacco tins,      turies before running water allowed
                                                   cover. Surprisingly, some cartoons       wood, linen, needlepoint, and slate.   for modern disposal methods.
               Today, Robertson owns a consult- frequently have outhouses either            I have antique and modern out-
               ing business that works with uni-   featured or subtly placed in them.”      house salt and pepper shakers. I       Essentially, the outhouse was no
               versities, trade associations, and  He added that “The Far Side,”            have toothpick holders, puzzles,       more complex than four walls
               various companies to resolve their “B.C.,” “Tumbleweeds,”                    card decks, coasters, and an out-      enclosing a raised seat with an
               onsite wastewater treatment and     “Garfield,” “Ziggy,” and “Mother         house pencil holder made of one-       oblong hole cut from the center
               disposal issues.                    Goose & Grimm” can be relied             eighth-inch steel.”                    and a pit dug below the seat to
                                                   upon for a bit of privy humor now                                               hold the waste. Variations could
               Those many years working with       and then.                                As if that weren’t enough, his wife    include windows or an extra,
               onsite systems, both simple and                                              even owns a pair of tiny silver        smaller hole with a step up to it to
               sophisticated, contributed to       Robertson’s cartoon collecting led       outhouse earrings that she saves       accommodate a child’s needs.
               Robertson’s compulsion to collect to an array of other finds. He has         for special occasions.                 Other amenities were added ac-
               outhouse memorabilia. He has        privy-themed books, matches,                                                    cording to the owner’s social status
               seen just about every kind and      models, banks, and music boxes           Aside from this avid collecting,       and personal interests.
               shape of outhouse, from tidy ex-    that line shelves on three walls of      Robertson has explored the world
               amples of colonial architecture to  his office. His friends and associ-      of basic waste treatment to become Continued on next page
               dilapidated shacks.                 ates constantly add to the collection.   one of the nation’s foremost

          14                                                                                                              SMALL FLOWS-Fall 1997; Vol.11, No. 4
   Continued from previous page            nology. The backyard outhouse,
                                           for the most part, sank and sagged
   The moon symbol frequently cut          its way into oblivion. As a result,
   into the door originally indicated      the outhouse has a somewhat nos-
   that the outhouse was for women,        talgic reputation, except to those
   and a star meant it was for men.        who actually had no other choice
                                           than to use one.
   People had naive ideas about the
   association between sewage and          Those people remember more
   disease. As far as those who used       realistically the inconvenience of
   an outhouse were concerned, the         the outhouse. They remember—
   structure fulfilled a basic need very   but not fondly—the bees that
   well. Little thought was directed its   nested under the seat. Outhouses
   way—except when the wind                meant serious odors in the sum-
   turned. Proximity to the water          mer, late night dashes from a warm
   supply was seldom considered. In        house in the winter, and a not-too-
   fact, outhouses were frequently         pleasant task for the one chosen to
   positioned near, or even over,          clean out the pit. No nostalgia for
   streams.                                these folks.

   Throughout history, stories have        Millions of New Privies
   surfaced about some creative ways       President Franklin D. Roosevelt         This outhouse design, by Tennessee officials, included a vent to release
   in which inventive persons have         formed the Works Progress Ad-           fumes from the pit below.
   improved on personal waste dis-         ministration (WPA) during the
   posal, but the ideas usually died       1930s as part of a larger strategy toSome people still believe that            Robertson said he heard a ruckus
   with their creator.                     pull the country out of economic     outhouses can serve the same              near a privy one night. It seems
                                           depression. One of the many          purpose as a septic system. There         that one of the scouts had carried a
   For example, in the 19th century,       projects the WPA undertook was       are similarities between some             favorite knife into the privy and
   some hotels had two-story out-          building more than 2 million “sani-  outhouse arrangements and septic          dropped it down through the seat.
   houses with access for second           tary privies” around the country.    systems, but septic systems handle
   floor guests. The facilities still                                           other household wastewaters. The          “Troop members then lowered the
   were nothing more than an enclo-        Work crews rebuilt the outhouses     most common relatives of the              scout down through the privy hole
   sure and a seat with a hole, but        that were worth saving, and a        outhouse are the portable toilets         to recover the knife,” Robertson
   with offset plumbing to avoid the       family could pay $5 for a new        that provide relief to crowds at          said. “He returned to earth thanks
   lower stall.                            privy constructed to federal stan-   fairs, concerts, construction sites,      to a bright spotlight, a strong rope,
                                           dards. Families who couldn’t af-     and similar gatherings of short           and well-tied knots, without prob-
   Population increases and gains in       ford the charge could apply to have duration.                                  lems. But, the said scout had fewer
   personal wealth, plus discovery of      one built for free. These “hand-                                               friends, due to his ‘organic coat-
   the relationship between diseases       out” privies became the focus of     Certain conditions, such as remote-       ing’ and accompanying odor.”
   and sanitation, prompted advance-       political jokes based on their vote- ness or lack of running water, can        Robertson directed the boy to a
   ments in waste management tech-         getting ability.                     justify the use of non-waterborne         nearby shower, after which he
                                                                                   systems such as pit privies,           regained his friends and the
                                                                                   composting, or electric toilets.       cleaned-up knife. (Note: People
                                                                                   They must meet size, depth,            should not enter an outhouse pit
                                                                                   strength, and sanitation standards.    due to the possible concentration
                                                                                   Stationary pit toilets are often       of dangerous gases.)
                                                                                   found at rural campgrounds and
                                                                                   seasonal recreation areas.             Through his use of cartoons and his
                                                                                                                          sense of humor, Robertson has
                                                                                   Conveying the Message                  found a means of conveying techni-
                                                                                   Robertson uses outhouses as a tool     cal information more understand-
                                                                                   to promote his message. For in-        ably to his audiences, whatever
                                                                                   stance, this past summer he used       their ages or backgrounds. His
                                                                                   his outhouse gumball dispenser to      outhouse collection represents more
                                                                                   gain the attention of Boy Scouts at    than an interest in novelties; certain
                                                                                   Camp Tukabatchee in Alabama,           items have become learning tools.
                                                                                   where he promoted a nonpoint
                                                                                   source education project.              If you share Robertson’s interest in
                                                                                                                          outhouses, you may reach him at
                                                                                   The Tukabatchee Area Council is        Robertson Consulting, 141 Melmar
                                                                                   sponsoring the project in local        Drive, Prattville, AL 36067-1617,
                                                                                   schools with Robertson serving as      or call (334) 365-8939, or e-mail
                                                                                   the coordinator. Robertson said he     to
                                                                                   considers this volunteer work as a
                                                                                   partial pay back, since he was a        Some of the information for this
                                                                                   staff member at the camp from           article was gleaned from The
                                                                                   1958 to 1962.                           Vanishing American Outhouse
                                                                                                                           by Ronald S. Barlow and Privy,
   Kentucky’s Department of Health developed this outhouse design                  He recalled a particularly interest-    The Classic Outhouse Book by
   circa 1918.                                                                     ing evening at the camp. While he       Janet and Richard Strombeck.
                                                                                   was a provisional troop leader,

SMALL FLOWS-Fall 1997; Vol.11, No. 4                                                                                                                               15
advice        Vacuum Sewers
                                                     N SFC Hotline
              Editor’s Note: This column is          tional oxygen for wastewater treat-    and cost-effectively. Division        operate and maintain. Previous
              based on calls received over the       ment during transport.                 valves break the system into          experience suggests that each
              National Small Flows Clearing-                                                smaller parts to ease maintenance.    valve requires three to five hours
              house’s (NSFC) technical assis-        Use of a pressure difference for                                             of maintenance per year, while
              tance hotline. The information was     motive force to propel the sewage      Two significant costs for the system maintenance of the system
              compiled by Ed Winant, Ph.D., of       also allows a relative freedom of      are the onsite valves and the collec- amounts to 15-30 hours per 1,000
              the technical assistance staff. If     design in horizontal and vertical      tion station. Each hookup requires a feet of pipe per year.
              you have a question, call (800)        alignment. Pipes are not required      valve and valve pit, which costs
              624-8301 or (304) 293-4191.                                                                                                   Vacuum sewers are not
                                                                                                                                            the answer to every
              Our community needs                          Valve pit                                                                        wastewater problem.
              a wastewater collec-                                                                                                   Air They have definite ad-
              tion system for our                                                                                                           vantages, but there are
              lagoon. We are in a                                                                                                           many cases where onsite
              rural setting on one-                                                                                                         systems or another form
              to two-acre lots on                                                                                                Sewage of collection system is
              rolling hills. Gravity                                                                                                        more economical or
              sewers would be quite                                                                                                         beneficial.
              expensive. We’ve
                                                             Main                             Vacuum tank
              heard about vacuum                                                                                                              In areas of moderate
              sewers as an alterna-                                                                                                           population density, with
              tive. What are vacuum sewers,          to be straight. They may bend          approximately $2,000. The valve        rolling or very flat terrain, high
              and how do they work? What are         around intervening obstacles, such     pit stores household sewage, about     bedrock or water tables, vacuum
              their advantages and disadvan-         as ponds or large rocks. In terms of   30 gallons, and holds the vacuum       sewers are advantageous. For high
              tages? Are they cost-effective?        stream crossings, this can represent   interface valve. When enough sew-      population-density areas, conven-
                                                     a significant savings over conven-     age has collected, the valve opens,    tional gravity sewers are usually
              Vacuum sewers are a type of alter-     tional sewers, which would require     admitting the sewage and air into      the best choice.
              native, small-diameter collection      lift stations, inverted siphons, or    the sewer. Depending on layout,
              system. A vacuum sewer consists        much deeper excavation down-           one valve pit can serve up to four       For small systems, grinder pump
              of onsite valve pits, small-diameter   stream of a crossing.                  houses, which can significantly          or septic tank effluent pump sew-
              sewer mains, and a central vacuum                                             reduce the cost per residence.           ers may be more cost effective.
              collection station.                    The pressure difference allows for                                              These pressure sewers would also
                                                     slight vertical rises, enough to         The other major cost is the collection be more appropriate where the
              Vacuum pumps at the collection         surmount short grades. A vacuum          station, which costs about $200,000 sewer lines ascend heights greater
              station maintain a vacuum through-     system can handle maximum verti- for the entire system. Typically a             than 26 feet.
              out the system. Sewage from one to cal distances of about 26 feet. In           collection station handles 200–500
              four houses collects in a valve pit,   rolling terrain, this means that the     homes, or flows of up to 50,000        Each situation should be evaluated
              and when enough wastewater has         usual pipe layout follows the to-        gallons per day. This is basically a   by a competent consultant to select
              accumulated, the valve opens. This     pography of the ground, buried           fixed cost, and thus provides some     the best solution.
              admits sewage and air into the main, low enough to avoid the frost line         economy for larger systems.
              where it is pulled by the vacuum to    and to resist traffic loads, thus reduc-                                        See page 7 of the products insert
              the central station. At the collection ing excavation costs considerably.       The station also requires a trained    in the center of this newsletter
              station, centrifugal pumps send the                                             operator, though not necessarily a     for a listing of vacuum sewer-
              sewage to a treatment facility.        Another advantage is the vacuum. full-time employee. Though the                 related products available from
                                                     In mixing the sewage with air,           system sounds technologically          the NSFC.
              Vacuum sewers share several            some treatment takes place in the        complex, in practice it is simple to
              advantages with other small-diam- sewer line. Additionally, this re-
              eter sewers, including smaller, less duces potential odors, while the             Stream Crossing
              expensive plastic pipes; reduced       vacuum keeps noxious fumes in
              excavation costs; relative freedom the pipe. Odor problems may occur
              in horizontal alignment; and fewer at the collection station, but vent-
              restrictions on pipe slopes. Also,     ing to a soil scrubber is an easy
              they don’t require the installation    solution.
                                                                                                                                                     A vacuum sewer
              of manholes, which can cost be-
                                                                                                                                                     stream crossing,
              tween $1,000–$2,000 each.              The pressure difference also in-
                                                                                                                                                     which does not
                                                     sures that sewage will stay in the
                                                                                                Conventional Sewer                                   require manholes
              The sewage is propelled by a pres- pipe and not leak out, even if a
                                                                                                                                                     or extensive
              sure difference between the air        rupture occurs in the line, since the
                                                                                                                                                     excavation, can
              admitted through the valve and the line pressure is less than atmo-
                                                                                                                                                     be installed much
              vacuum in the line. This results in    spheric. A vacuum loss, which
                                                                                                                                                     cheaper than a
              a slug of wastewater being forced      occurs when the pipe is damaged,
              rapidly through the main. The solid is noticeable at the collection sta-
              matter is broken up and aerated,       tion and easily isolated with the
              allowing the use of smaller pipes      many division valves and pressure
                                                                                                 Vacuum Sewer
              since blockages are not a problem. sensors placed in the system. Thus,
              The aeration also provides addi-       repairs can be performed quickly

         16                                                                                                                SMALL FLOWS-Fall 1997; Vol.11, No. 4
   Wastewater Information Available On the Web

   There is virtually an unlimited         Enviro-Access                             This online document discusses the        programs and a link to download
   supply of wastewater-related sites            reclamation of wastewater for             some of NSF International’s publi-
   on the Internet. The following                                                    irrigation in Ohio. It explains siting,   cations.
                                           Available in both English and
   listing is only a sample of the                                                   design, and management, and it
                                           French, this Canadian site is dedi-
   information that is available.                                                    includes related tables and figures.      @aqueous
                                           cated to helping small and medium-
                                           sized environmental organizations                                              
   Please note that the National Small                                               Government Institutes
                                           in the development of new tech-                                                     This site offers a search engine
   Flows Clearinghouse (NSFC) does                                               
                                           nologies and in the advancement                                                     dedicated to finding water-related
   not endorse any particular Web
                                           of their businesses. This site houses     This site provides practical infor-       sites of all sorts.
   sites and reminds readers that
                                           information on upcoming confer-           mation regarding the environment,
   information available at these sites
                                           ences, environmental fact sheets,         health and safety, telecommunica-         The Groundwater Foundation
   is not guaranteed to be accurate.
                                           and products.                             tions, the Internet, Code of Federal           http://www.groundwater.
   The addresses and descriptive
                                                                                     Regulations, and natural resources.            org/index.htm
   information below were current at
                                           Toiletology 101—A Complete                Information about publications and
   the time of publication.                                                                                                    Dedicated to informing the public
                                           Course in Toilet Training                 seminars is also available from this
                                                                                                                               about groundwater, this site offers
   Links to other sites are available at                                                                                       information about the Groundwa-
   the NSFC’s Web site at;                 This virtual course explains a                                                      ter Guardian program. There’s also
                                                                                     The Boston Harbor Cleanup:             range of toilet-related problems                                                    a children’s education section.
                                                                                     The Deer Island Sewage Treat-
                                           and troubleshooting options, in-
                                                                                     ment Facility
   New England Interstate Water            cluding repairing flush and refill                                                Waterwatch Australia
                                           valves and how to test for leaks.             http://www.history.rochester.
   Pollution Control Commission                                                                                         
                                           The site also houses a history of             edu/class/bosharb/harbor.htm                                                                                                   portfolio/anca/waterwatch/
                                           the flush toilet and information on       The University of Rochester’s                waterwatch.html
   This site offers information on         how toilets flush.                        report on the Boston Harbor
   topics including point source                                                                                             Community participation in moni-
                                                                                     cleanup can be found at this site.
   pollution control, combined sewer                                                                                         toring water is encouraged by this
                                           Reuse of Reclaimed Wastewater
   overflows, onsite wastewater                                                                                              program in order to raise public
                                           Through Irrigation for Ohio               NSF International
   disposal, and underground storage                                                                                         awareness of the natural environ-
   tanks.                                                                                                                    ment and demonstrate wise use of
                                                  Recent press releases and an online natural resources. Viewers can find
                                              edu/~ohioline/cdrom/ohio               newsletter can be found at this site, information regarding participation
                                              line/b860/index.htm                    as well as information on certification and how to start a watchgroup.

   California State University Offers
   Operator Training Programs                                                            NRRI Report Studies Water Reuse
                                                                                         A 146-page report studying the           The economics of reuse is also a
   California State University (CSU)       facilities, and how to solve treat-           reclamation of wastewater for            factor, but not a primary factor, in
   in Sacramento offers home-study         ment plant arithmetic problems. It            distribution as a non-potable alter-     each case study.
   courses for operators of all types of   also discusses how to operate and             native is now available from the
   wastewater facilities.                  maintain racks, screens, sedimen-             National Regulatory Research         In one case, for instance, the rev-
                                           tation tanks, trickling filters, rotat-       Institute (NRRI) at The Ohio State   enue generated from the reclaimed
   These courses—developed by              ing biological contactors, package            University.                          water is less than the cost of pro-
   collection system and treatment         activated sludge plants, oxidation                                                 viding the supply, although the
   plant operators—cover the opera-        ditches, ponds, and chlorination              The report suggests that “in the     report authors explain that this
   tion and maintenance of wastewa-        facilities. This 529-page manual              near term, water reclamation (for    does not mean the project was
   ter collection systems, municipal       costs $20.                                    municipal systems) may only be       uneconomical overall, “but rather
   wastewater treatment plants, ad-                                                      practical in areas where water is in it serves as an example where the
   vanced waste treatment, industrial      Operation of Wastewater Treat-                short supply,” according to an       benefits that cannot be captured
   waste treatment, treatment of metal     ment Plants, Volume II, covers                NRRI statement. It adds that in-     through selling the reclaimed water
   waste streams, and pretreatment         activated sludge, sludge digestion,           creasing demand for water will       are sufficient to overcome the cost
   facility inspection.                    solids handling, effluent disposal,           expand the areas where reuse is      shortfall of the revenue generating
                                           plant safety and good housekeep-              practical.                           potential of the supply.”
   CSU developed its training pro-         ing, maintenance, laboratory pro-
   grams in cooperation with the           cedures, uses of computers for                The report was prepared by John          The report is geared toward public
   California Water Environment            plant operation and maintenance,              Borrows, P.E., NRRI senior               utility commission officials, who
   Association for the U.S. Environ-       analysis and presentation of data,            research specialist, and Todd            could require local systems to
   mental Protection Agency to help        and records and report writing.               Simpson, NRRI research                   reclaim wastewater or at least
   operators acquire the skills neces-     This 754-page manual costs $25.               assistant.                               study the possibility.
   sary to effectively do their jobs and
   to pass certification exams. Two of     To order either of these manuals,             Wastewater recycling case studies        To order the report, Water Reuse:
   the manuals offered by CSU are          or for more information about                 from California, Florida, and            Considerations for Commissioners
   Operation of Wastewater Treat-          other CSU training programs,                  Texas are included in the report.        (NRRI 97-15), contact NRRI at
   ment Plants, Volumes I and II.          contact Kenneth Kerri, Office of              In each case study, limited raw          (614) 292-9404. The cost is
                                           Water Programs, CSU–Sacra-                    water supplies are important con-        $33.60.
   Operation of Wastewater Treat-          mento, 6000 J Street, Sacramento,             siderations.
   ment Plants, Volume I, contains         CA 95819-6025; call (916) 278-
   information on the responsibilities     6142; or send e-mail to
   of a treatment plant operator, why
   wastes must be treated, treatment

SMALL FLOWS-Fall 1997; Vol.11, No. 4                                                                                                                                 17
                  Joining Forces To Meet Small Community Wastewater Treatment Needs
                          by Jeremy Canody              However, mutual aid networks will “Ultimately, we decided to share                environmental specialist with the
                          NSFC Staff Writer             not work for all small systems. In       the personnel workload to create         Rural Community Assistance
                                                        some cases, geographical, political, better travel efficiency,” Price said,       Corporation (RCAC). Small waste-
                  Managing a small wastewater           and financial factors can preclude       adding that since the county began       water systems will want to include
                  treatment facility is becoming        small communities from working           the workload sharing three years         elected officials, management
                  increasingly difficult as environ-    together. If one system is deemed a ago, his department has reduced               personnel, health officials, and
                  mental regulations demand more        financial burden by the other sys-       travel time by 100 working days a        plant operators in all stages of the
                  management and technical exper-       tems, the other sytems may not           year and increased onsite effi-          development process.
                  tise and greater expenditures for     want to take on the responsibility       ciency by 10 percent.
                  facilities and monitoring.            of working with a failing system.                                                 How might a wastewater system
                                                        In other cases, communities are          Additionally, Price said with a          decide whether it should work with
                  Failing to meet environmental         geographically isolated and may          more efficiently run public works        other communities?
                  regulations poses both legal and      find it impossible to                                     department they
                  health risks that smaller systems     work with other                                           have been able to       Working alone may be an option if
                  simply cannot afford to bear. Some systems—a com-                   In most cases,              make some long          a system can provide quality ser-
                  smaller systems find it difficult to  mon problem in                                            overdue capital         vice to the community without
                                                                                   the systems within
                  afford the equipment or qualified     some western                                              improvements to         increasing costs to customers.
                  personnel to monitor adequately       states.                        a mutual aid               their county facili-    When a more complicated system
                  for these risks. They also may face                                 network share               ties, particularly at   or facility is needed but a commu-
                  failing or outdated facilities.       For the most part,                                        the wastewater          nity cannot afford it, that commu-
                                                        small systems that           similar qualities            plants.                 nity should consider cooperating
                  In response, many small communi- are in fair operating               such as size,                                      with others for assistance.
                  ties are exploring multi-municipal condition but could                                          By obtaining vari-
                  consolidation, privatization, and     use additional sup-
                                                                                     financial health,            ous federal, state,     Steps To Get Started
                  public-private partnerships. Many     port find mutual aid                  and                 and local grants and    Richardson explained that there are
                  are finding that sharing or consoli- networking to be              technology use.              loans, the county       several steps a small system can
                  dating municipal functions helps      beneficial.                                               has made several        take before deciding what mutual
                  them lower costs, comply with                                                                   major treatment         aid option to consider, or to deter-
                  environmental regulations, and        The Case of                                               plant upgrades,         mine if consolidating with other
                  improve customer service.             Mariposa County                                           including rehabili-     systems is a viable option.
                                                        Rural Mariposa County, Califor-          tating or replacing sewerage pipes,
                  For a small wastewater system         nia, provides one example of how reservoir liners, lift stations, and             In order for a community to deter-
                  struggling to make ends meet,         small communities can work to-           collection systems. Automated            mine a need for a mutual aid net-
                  consolidating some or all of its      gether to create a more efficiently      programmable logic controllers           work, according to Richardson, all
                  operation and maintenance (O&M) run public works department.                   and system alarms also have been         interested stakeholders will want to:
                  services with other communities                                                installed at three of the treatment      • assemble team members,
                  through a “mutual aid agreement” The county’s public works depart- facilities. Plans call for complete                  • conduct a needs assessment,
                  can be beneficial. By joining to-     ment consolidated personnel from rehabilitation of all four of the                • determine a willingness to
                  gether, they can achieve greater      three independently operated             county’s wastewater treatment               solve local wastewater
                  economies of scale, reduce unit       maintenance divisions to share the plants by 2000.                                   problems, and
                  prices of their purchases, and pro- workload among four maintenance                                                     • survey available resources
                  vide a better customer service        areas. Although the maintenance          Price said creating this type of            before putting a plan into action.
                  while keeping rates under control. areas of Mariposa Pines Sewer,              working relationship among the
                                                        Yosemite West Subdivision, Don           maintenance divisions and other          Once systems determine a need for
                  Using Mutual Aid Networks             Pedro Sewer, and Coulterville            county departments has accom-            a mutual aid network, they should
                  Mutual aid, or municipal consoli-     Service Area now share personnel plished many years’ worth of capi-               identify a leader. This person
                  dation, agreements involve two or to maintain their airports, landfill, tal improvements in just three                  should be willing to devote a lot of
                  more communities sharing utility      sewer and water systems, parks,          years.                                   time to the consolidation effort and
                  resources, personnel, facilities, and and other county-owned facilities,                                                follow the process through every
                  services while maintaining their      they still maintain their individual Developing a Network                         phase of implementation.
                  individual identities.                identities.                              The creation of a wastewater mu-
                                                                                                 tual aid network tends to be more        The communities involved will
                  For example, a group of small         According to Cliff Price, facilities complex than simply contracting              then need to identify and recruit
                  systems in the same county could      maintenance manager for the Mari- with a private firm to take over                key personnel and support to help
                  save money by hiring a full-time      posa County Public Works Depart- operation and maintenance ser-                   sell the idea of a mutual aid net-
                  certified operator to serve the en-   ment, prior to the county’s assign- vices because it requires a coop-             work to the participating commu-
                  tire group instead of each employ- ing personnel to all four districts,        erative agreement among two or           nities. Richardson said it is helpful
                  ing its own operator.                 the workload responsibilities were more systems.                                  to include county health officials,
                                                        distributed inefficiently among the                                               as well as state and regulatory
                  Hundreds of small communities         individual areas.                        Small wastewater system owners           personnel, as information re-
                  across the country are finding                                                 or operators may fear delegating         sources.
                  various consolidation efforts not     “We initially took a dedicated crew      responsibility to another system or
                  only to be financially beneficial     in each division and consolidated the new organization that they cannot           Systems considering a mutual aid
                  but also helpful for training per-    three divisions into one. We also        completely control.                      network will want to talk with
                  sonnel and sharing resources and      combined our public works re-                                                     other communities that have
                  information. In most cases, the       sources from engineering, the physi- When a group of systems is devel-            formed successful networks of
                  systems within a mutual aid net-      cal plant, our road crew, and facili-    oping a mutual aid network, the          their own to see how they operate
                  work share similar qualities such     ties maintenance to work together,       effort must involve all interested       and maintain their systems.
                  as size, financial health, and tech-  resulting in fewer breakdowns,           stakeholders from the beginning in
                  nology use.                           decreased road time, and less emer- order to benefit everyone, accord-            Continued on next page
                                                        gency response,” Price said.             ing to Mark Richardson, senior

             18                                                                                                                  SMALL FLOWS-Fall 1997; Vol.11, No. 4
   Continued from previous page            ongoing or as needed. Small com-         council of elected
                                           munity wastewater systems can            officials” board. In                    Strength in Numbers
   Once external contacts have been        informally agree to share storage        this organization,
   made, a first meeting should be         facilities, sludge storage, billing      elected officials
                                                                                                            By working together, small communities can cut
   scheduled to discuss preliminary        equipment, and personnel for             provide a forum
                                                                                                            expenses for their wastewater treatment efforts,
   ideas and concepts. Also, the           O&M functions. The relationship          for identifying
                                                                                                            while improving efficiency.
   group will want to select a neutral     among communities can later              common wastewa-
   facilitator to run meetings and to      develop into a more formal agree-        ter treatment prob-     • Supplies can be purchased in bulk.
   keep everyone informed.                 ment if necessary.                       lems in a given         • Grants and loans may be more accessible.
                                                                                    area.                   • Customer service can be improved without
   When the first meeting is held, the     When a wastewater system re-                                       increasing costs.
   facilitator should explain to attend-   quires more specialized support          The council can
   ees what a mutual aid network is,       than informal cooperation can            encourage com-
   how it works, and how it can ben-       provide, it can form a “contractual      mon action resolutions to solve        Several other options of structural
   efit a small wastewater system.         service agreement” with other            regional problems and therefore        consolidation efforts are similar to
   Richardson mentioned that it helps      systems or businesses. This type of      eliminate duplication in nearby        the regulatory, financial, and po-
   to record the minutes of the meet-      contract requires a legal document       communities. Participating com-        litical characteristics of an associa-
   ing and distribute them to every-       among systems or between a sys-          munities will be under no legal        tion. One option involves creating
   one who was invited.                    tem and private company to pro-          obligation to the board’s recom-       a “local special-purpose district”
                                           vide specific services that may not      mendations, and each system can        where—much like an associa-
   A second meeting will be necessary      be feasible for a single small system.   maintain its autonomy.                 tion—a wastewater authority is
   to determine if those attending are                                                                                     created from several small systems
   in favor of establishing a mutual aid   Contractual services may include         Structural Options                     to perform specific services.
   network. If there is interest,          O&M, emergency and repair ser-           Structural consolidation efforts
   Richardson said, the group must:        vices, pumping services, and bill-       require a more permanent commit-       Other options include the “annex-
   • define the scope and future           ing and collection.                      ment from wastewater systems           ation” of an area, which occurs
      strategy of their efforts;                                                    because they generally result in the   when a wastewater system extends
   • discuss topics to be covered in      When small community wastewa-             creation of a new entity or a shift    its services to neighboring commu-
      future meetings; and                ter systems face challenges greater       in policy control among participat-    nities, and “region-wide wastewa-
   • set a time, place, and agenda for    than each can face on its own, they       ing systems.                           ter districts,” which are similar to
      those meetings.                     may want to consider forming a                                                   associations or local districts, but
                                          “joint service agency.” This option These options can be beneficial to           on a much larger scale and with a
   The group should meet for a third      allows the formation of a new         a group of small systems when a            larger range of services provided.
   time to form an official organization. entity, but with each system oper- unit needs to be enlarged or when
   The group will want to select a name ating independently.                    a new entity must be created from          These nonstructural and structural
   and elect officers at that time.                                             several small systems to meet the          mutual aid options are listed here
                                          For example, neigh-                                  demands of chang-           in order of increasing complexity.
   To cooperate with other communi- boring communities                                         ing environmental           As the complexity of the entity
   ties, Richardson recommended that might find that their                                     regulations.                increases, so does its ability to
                                          treatment plants are
                                                                    Many communities                                       solve wastewater treatment prob-
   small communities decide during
   the first several meetings the role    not capable of              may already be           The simplest form           lems. However, with an increase in
   each community will have, how          meeting a new            involved in this type       of a structural con-        entity complexity, implementation
   conflict among the communities         regulatory require-                                  solidation effort is        also becomes more difficult.
   will be resolved, and how coopera- ment. They could                of nonstructural         an “association.”
   tive operations or a facility will be realize that a shared     cooperation without         This usually in-            Therefore, small wastewater
   paid for.                              new facility could                                   volves several small        systems must consider whether the
                                          meet their needs.          even realizing it.        systems that con-           mutual aid option they choose is
   Richardson said deciding which         By forming a joint        When two or more           solidate policy-            viable when considering the
   mutual aid option will best benefit service agency,               communities get           making efforts to           increasing complexity of legal,
   a group of small systems can           these communities                                    form an association         political, and administrative
   sometimes be the most challenging equally share opera-             together to buy          of representatives          requirements of each option.
   issue the group faces. He explained tion, funding, main-          in bulk, that’s an        from each system.
   that there is a variety of nonstruc-   tenance, and con-                                    Together, these             For more information on mutual
   tural and structural mutual aid        struction decisions.         example of an           systems can con-            aid networks, contact Richardson
   options available to small waste-                              informal cooperation. solidate their ser-                at (916) 447-9832, or contact
   water systems.                         Forming a joint                                      vice areas to be            Kathy Stanley with the Rural Com-
                                          service agency can                                   governed by one             munity Assistance Program at
   Nonstructural Options                  be more difficult                                    entity.                     (703) 771-8636.
   The simplest form of communities than other cooperative efforts.
   working together is referred to as     Administrative decisions are usu-     A benefit of an association is that        Also, the Summer 1997 issue of the
   “informal cooperation.” Many           ally made by a joint governing        it can improve the likelihood of           National Drinking Water Clear-
   communities may already be in-         body or representatives from each receiving federal financing, such              inghouse’s (NDWC) Water Sense
   volved in this type of nonstructural system, and legal counsel should        as loans or grants. The revenues           newsletter focuses primarily on
   cooperation without even realizing be present. Depending on local and earned by the association can be                  system privatization. For a free
   it. When two or more communities state laws, it may be necessary to          directed to help the group’s strug-        subscription, call NDWC at (800)
   go together to buy supplies in bulk obtain governmental approval at          gling systems with maintenance             624-8301.
   to save money, that’s an example       some point, Richardson said.          and improvement efforts as well as
   of an informal cooperation.                                                  any debt repayment. Small systems
                                          Another nonstructural mutual aid      can find strength in numbers with
   This option is based on voluntary      option small communities may          this mutual aid effort.
   cooperative decisions and can be       want to consider is a “regional

SMALL FLOWS-Fall 1997; Vol.11, No. 4                                                                                                                                19
                   Alternative Septic System Test Center Planned
                   A new Alternative Septic System                                                                                       Regionally, the test center is work-
                   Test Center that will provide inde-        Massachusetts             Boston                                           ing closely with the University of
                   pendent testing of alternative and                                                                                    Rhode Island’s Onsite Wastewater
                   innovative onsite treatment tech-                                                                                     Training Center and the New En-
                   nologies for use in Massachusetts                                                                                     gland Interstate Water Pollution
                   is being constructed this fall.                                                                                       Control Commission’s (NEIWPCC)
                                                                                                                                         ETI Onsite Wastewater Technol-
                   Operated by the Buzzards Bay                                                                                          ogy Data Review project to speed
                   National Estuary Program, a unit                                                Test Center                           the approval and introduction of
                   of the Massachusetts Office of                                                                                        alternative technologies in the New
                   Coastal Zone Management (MA                     New Bedford                                                           England region.
                   CZM), the new test center is                                               ay
                   funded for two years by a
                                                                                   Buzza                                                 The center is a cooperative endeavor
                   $459,000 U.S. Environmental                                                                            N              of the Buzzards Bay National
                   Protection Agency (EPA) Environ-                                                                   W
                                                                                                                                         Estuary Program, the Massachu-
                   mental Technologies Initiative                                                                                        setts Department of Environmental
                   (ETI) grant and other matching                                                                                        Protection (DEP), and the Barnstable
                   funds.                                                                                                                County Department of Health and
                                                                                                                                         the Environment. Additional fund-
                   “The test center’s purpose is to                                                                                      ing support is being provided by
                                                          An Alternative Septic System Test Center is under construction at
                   evaluate and promote innovative                                                                                       ComElectric.
                                                          Marion, Massachusetts. The center will help vendors of innovative
                   septic systems in Massachusetts,”
                                                          technologies accelerate state regulatory approval.
                   said Tony Millham, Ph.D., project                                                                                     Representatives from the Massa-
                   manager for the test center.           replicates of each and three identi-     Costa added. “This new test center    chusetts DEP, U.S. EPA, U.S.
                                                          cal conventional septic systems          will address these and other needs    Department of Defense, MA CZM,
               The center will provide vendors of         used as a benchmark for the tested       for information on the performance    Barnstable County Department of
               innovative technologies with the           technologies.                            of the many new technologies          Health and the Environment,
               opportunity to accelerate Massa-                                                    coming down the road.”                NEIWPCC, the University of
                        chusetts regulatory               The center is located at the Massa-                                            Rhode Island, the Town of Sand-
                        approvals. It also will           chusetts Military Reservation            Costa said the test center will be an wich, the Town of Falmouth, and
  “Conventional         reduce the substantial cost       (MMR) in Cape Cod in an area             information clearinghouse on          the Coalition for Buzzards Bay
  septic systems        of meeting the monitoring         adjoining the military base’s new        residential wastewater disposal       will oversee the center’s operation.
                        requirements for permitted        wastewater treatment plant. The          systems and that Massachusetts is
 were designed to       use of onsite systems in                                                                                         Millham will operate the facility in
                                                          center will use sewage from the          exploring how the test center also
remove pathogens,       Massachusetts and other           base’s residential housing.              may meet the needs of other New       conjunction with George Heufelder,
  but do not do a       New England states.                                                        England states.                       environmental program manager
                                                          Effectiveness To Be Measured                                                   for the Barnstable County Health
    good job at          Because most of the costs        The test center will direct equal
removing nutrients.”     of monitoring the septic         amounts of wastewater to each
                         systems will be carried by       technology. Volumes of influent
   Joe Costa,            the test center, consider-       flow into the plant and effluent
  Buzzards Bay           able financial incentive is      flow returned to the MMR sewer
                         being offered to encour-         will be monitored, and the facility
                         age businesses to partici-       is being designed to prevent any
executive director       pate in the program, said        releases of raw or untreated sew-
                         Millham. Current plans           age to groundwater, said Millham.
                         are to send out vendor
               applications soon and to select            Effluent from each technology will
               vendors by the time construction           flow to one-quarter size underlined
               of the test center is completed, he        leach trenches where pathogen
               added.                                     removal and biochemical param-
                                                          eters below the leach trench will be
                   As an ETI project, the test center’s   measured. The test center also will
                   mission is to speed the introduc-      monitor and record the systems’
                   tion and approval of alternative       operation and maintenance and        Buzzards Bay
                   and innovative onsite wastewater       project these costs over the life of
                   treatment technologies in Massa-       the systems.                         Several Public Benefits                   Department. Barnstable County and
                   chusetts and to reduce the financial                                        Beyond the benefits to technology         Brian Howes, Ph.D., of the Univer-
                   burden that the approval process       “Conventional septic systems were vendors, the test center will benefit        sity of Massachusetts at Dartmouth,
                   entails.                               designed to remove pathogens, but the public in several ways, accord-          will jointly investigate pollutant
                                                          do not do a good job at removing     ing to Millham.                           removal efficiencies of innovative
                   To accomplish this, the test center    nutrients,” said Joe Costa, Ph.D.,                                             septic system technologies.
                   will provide independent, rigorous     executive director of the Buzzards “First, by speeding approvals of
                   testing programs to measure the        Bay Project. “On Cape Cod, and in new technologies, there should be            For more information about the
                   performance of alternative tech-       many coastal communities, there is an increase in the variety of sys-          Alternative Septic System Test
                   nologies—conducted under con-          considerable interest in seeing      tems available to the public. Sec-        Center, write to Millham at the
                   trolled conditions—for a two-year      increased use of nitrogen removal ond, the results of testing each             Buzzards Bay Project, 2 Spring St.,
                   testing period.                        systems.                             technology will be released as            Marion, MA 02738; or call
                                                                                               public documents that will be             (508) 748-3600; or fax
                   The facility will have the capacity    “In other parts of the state, high   available to homeowners and               (508) 748-3962.
                   to test 21 systems—six residential     groundwater levels are the primary boards of health,” he said.
                   treatment technologies with three      concern of Boards of Health,”

              20                                                                                                                  SMALL FLOWS-Fall 1997; Vol.11, No. 4
   Effort Protects Buzzards Bay Watershed
   Established in 1985 as one of the     “Research efforts also have at-          milk Bay, a proto-
   first National Estuary Programs,      tempted to determine causes and          type research effort
   the Buzzards Bay Project in Mas-      sources of coastal pollution as well     was set up to docu-
   sachusetts works to protect and       as processes that affect the fate of     ment the sources and
   restore water quality in Buzzards     pollutants in the bay,” said Costa.      effects of these pol-
   Bay and its surrounding 432-                                                   lutants.
   square-mile watershed.                Major research findings included:
                                         • Embayments around Buzzards           Based on these find
   Buzzards Bay is a semi-enclosed         Bay are experiencing declining       ings, the Buzzards Bay
   embayment along the southeastern        water quality because of increas-    project completed the Buzzards
   coast of Massachusetts. The bay is      ing fecal coliform contamination.    Bay Comprehensive Conservation
   28 miles long, has a mean width of      Sources of these indicator organ-    and Management Plan (CCMP) in         mental data necessary to monitor
   9 miles, covers 235 square miles,       isms and pathogens include           1991, which outlines research         Buzzards Bay and to help citizens
   and has a mean depth of approxi-        stormwater discharges, animal        conclusions and management            become involved with protecting
   mately 36 feet. Buzzards Bay is         wastes, failing or old septic        strategies for the bay.               this vital resource.
   one of 17 designated estuaries          systems, and boat wastes.
   being studied in the U.S.                                                    “The Buzzards Bay Project is now      The Buzzards Bay Project also is
                                         • Increased development within         actively working with Buzzards        working with businesses and in-
   More than 235,000 people live in        the bay’s recharge area is causing   Bay municipalities and state and      dustry to make Buzzards Bay a
   the basin surrounding Buzzards          excess nitrogen to reach Buzzards    federal agencies to implement the     cleaner place for generations to
   Bay and many more vacation              Bay. The major sources are           CCMP,” Costa said. “Because           come, according to Costa.
   along its shores.                       sewage disposal and lawn and         local management efforts are es-
                                           agricultural fertilizer.             sential to the successful long-term   The project is administered and
   “Wastewater from approximately                                               protection of Buzzards Bay re-        funded by the Massachusetts Ex-
   135,000 people is discharged into     • Large amounts of polychlori-         sources, the project has awarded      ecutive Office of Environmental
   Buzzards Bay by sewage treatment        nated biphenyls (PCBs) were          more than $2 million over the past    Affairs through its Coastal Zone
   plants, and the remaining 100,000       discharged into New Bedford          six years to bay municipalities to    Management Office and the EPA.
   people use onsite septic systems or     Harbor by sewage and industrial      encourage and support local           The project is directed by the Buz-
   land-based treatment systems to         outfalls between 1940 and 1970.      coastal protection efforts.”          zards Bay Steering Committee and
   dispose of their wastewater,” said      PCBs have persisted in harbor                                              a panel of federal, state, regional,
   Joe Costa, Ph.D., executive direc-      sediments. The cleanup in the        The project also continues to work    municipal, and citizen representa-
   tor of the Buzzards Bay Project.        harbor is a U.S. Environmental       with the scientific community and     tives.
                                           Protection Agency (EPA)              regulatory agencies to identify
   Between 1985 and 1988 the               Superfund project.                   environmental degradation and         For more information about the
   project awarded $2 million to                                                monitor the effectiveness of man-     Buzzards Bay Project, write to 2
   research groups to assess and char-   • The effects of bacterial contami-    agement actions. For four years the   Spring St., Marion, MA 02738;
   acterize existing conditions in the     nation and nitrogen loading in       Buzzards Bay Project has guided a     call (508) 748-3600; or fax (508)
   bay, including the status of water      Buzzards Bay are localized near      bay-wide citizen monitoring pro-      748-3962.
   quality, sediments, and living          shore, particularly in poorly        gram to help gather the environ-
   resources.                              flushed embayments. In Butter

   Software Package Helps Towns Track Septic Systems
   A new software package called         button, relevant data on any lot in    According to Costa, other states      SepTrack Version 1E.0 requires
   “SepTrack” is helping towns in the    the municipality.”                     also are interested in setting up     three disks and does not require
   Buzzards Bay watershed in Massa-                                             similar programs and are using        FoxPro. (Please note that Version
   chusetts track septic system per-  SepTrack also helps towns                 SepTrack as a model.                  1E.0 cannot run certain advanced
   mits and inspection and mainte-    respond more quickly to informa-                                                features available in Version 1.0).
   nance information.                 tion requests, permit applications,       SepTrack runs under Microsoft         Both versions of SepTrack
                                      and new inspection and mainte-            FoxPro for Windows (Version           require Windows.
   The Buzzards Bay Project National nance reporting requirements iden-         2.6). “The simplicity of the FoxPro
   Estuary Program provided the       tified in the new Massachusetts           Windows environment, as well as       Requests for a free copy of
   software package and computers to Title 5 code, said Costa.                  multiple screen click-on menu         SepTrack should be made in writ-
   municipal boards of health in an                                             features, enables users with even     ing to the Buzzards Bay Project, 2
   effort to better protect public    “Word about the success of                modest computer experience to         Spring St., Marion, MA 02738.
   health and the environment.        SepTrack has quickly spread in the        store and retrieve data,” said        Please specify which version you
                                      past year. We have received 118           Costa.                                wish to receive, and send the ap-
   “We wanted to help towns and       requests for the program from                                                   propriate number of disks along
   cities reduce the amount of time   Massachusetts towns, and we               Because of recent limited avail-      with a self-addressed stamped
   they spent filing, retrieving, and know of at least 40 towns that are        ability of FoxPro, the Buzzards       mailer.
   maintaining information so that    now actively using it,” he said.          Bay Project has made available a
   they could spend more time on                                                special compiled stand-alone ver-     For more information about
   important water quality issues,”   Because of the widespread interest        sion of SepTrack (Version 1E.0)       SepTrack, call the Buzzards Bay
   said Joe Costa, Ph.D., executive   in the software, the Buzzards Bay         that can run in Windows without       Project at (508) 748-3600, or fax
   director of the Buzzards Bay       Project is making the software            the installation of FoxPro.           (508) 748-3962.
   Projects. “We felt that a software available to all interested Massa-
   program was needed that could      chusetts boards of health at no           SepTrack Version 1.0 requires one
   provide, at a click of a mouse     cost.                                     disk and runs under FoxPro.

SMALL FLOWS-Fall 1997; Vol.11, No. 4                                                                                                                         21
                                  F      S                                     Calendar of Events
                    W       T
              T       2    3
   S M            1

        5  6   7   8  9 10
                      16 17
           13 1 4 15
                         3 24                         If your organization is sponsoring an event that you would like to have promoted in this
    11 12          22 2
             0 21                                     calendar, please send information to the Small Flows editor.
        19 2            30
            27  28 29
     25 26                                      Event: 42nd Annual Midwest            Event: GIS-Based Ground Water         Event: Trench and Confined
                                                       Groundwater Conference                Flow Modeling Using                   Space Rescue Program
                                                By:    U.S. Geological Survey,               ArcView                        By:    National Utility

            OCTOBER                                    Iowa Department of
                                                       Natural Resources–Geo-
                                                       logical Survey Bureau,
                                                                                      By:    University of Wisconsin–
                                                                                             Milwaukee Center for
                                                                                             Continuing Engineering
                                                                                                                                   Contractors Association
                                                                                                                            Date: November 13–15
                                                                                                                            Place: Boynton Beach, FL
            Event: ITA 1997 AnnualMeeting
                                                       University of Iowa                    Education                      Phone: (703) 358-9300
            By:    Water and Wastewater
                                                       Department of Geology,         Date: October 29–31                          Kymberly Shaug
                   Instrument Testing
                                                       Iowa Groundwater               Place: Memphis, TN
                   Association of North
                                                       Association                    Phone: (414) 227-3173                 Event: International Conference
                                                Date: October 22–24                                                                on Advances in Ground
            Date: October 17
                                                Place: Coralville, IA                 Event: Karst Water Environment               Water Hydrology–A
            Place: Chicago, IL
                                                Phone: (319) 335-1580                        Symposium                             Decade of Progress
            Phone: (202) 218-4123
                                                       Paul VanDorpe                  By:    Virginia Water Resources       By:    American Institute of
                   Sheila Reilly
                                                                                             Research Center                       Hydrology
                                                 Event: What’s GREEN and              Date: October 30–31                   Date: November 16–19
            Event: WEFTEC ’97
                                                         WET? An Introduction to      Place: Roanoke, VA                    Place: Tampa, FL
            By:    Water Environment
                                                         Watershed Education          Phone: (540) 231-8039                 Phone: (612) 484-8169
                                                 By:     Global Rivers Environ-              Tamim Younos, Ph.D.         
            Date: October 18–22
                                                         mental Education Net-
            Place: Chicago, IL
                                                         work and Project Water                                             Event: Sixth Annual National
            Phone: (800) 666-0206
                                                         Education for Teachers                                                    Workshop for State Revolv-
            Event: American Water
                   Resources Associaton
                                                 Date: October 24–26
                                                 Place: Lyndhurst, NJ
                                                 Phone: (313) 761-8142
                                                                                      NOVEMBER                              By:
                                                                                                                                   ing Loan Fund Managers
                                                                                                                                   Council of Infrastructure
                                                                                                                                   Financing Authorities
                   33rd Annual Conference                                             Event: IWEX ’97: International
                                                         David Schmidt                                                      Date: November 16–18
                   and Symposium                                                             Water and Effluent
                                                (Note: This event is also scheduled                                         Place: Atlanta, GA
            By:    AWRA                                                                      Treatment Show
                                                for November 7–8 in Mobile, AL.)                                            Phone: (202) 371-9694
            Date: October 19–23                                                       By:    Turret RAI PLC
                                                                                                                                   Tara Powers
            Place: Long Beach, CA                                                     Date: November 4–6
                                                Event: 1997 National Environ-
            Phone: (703) 904-1225                                                     Place: Birmingham, U.K.
                                                       mental Career Conference                                             Event: Forum ’97: New Linkages
                                                                                      Phone: 44 1895 454540
                                                By:    Environmental                                                               in Conservation and
            Event: Competition in the                                                        Paul Tweedale
                                                       Careers Organization                                                        Development
                   Municipal Water and
                                                Date: October 24–25                                                         By:    University of Florida
                   Wastewater Industries                                               Event: Drafting Effective
                                                Place: Boston, MA                                                           Date: November 16–21
            By:    Electric Power Research                                                    Construction Contracts
                                                Phone: (617) 426-4375, ext. 2663                                            Place: Istanbul, Turkey
                   Institute                                                           By:    Federal Publications
                                                                                                                            Phone: (352) 392-6548
            Date: October 20–21                                                        Date: November 6–7
                                                Event: Watersheds ’97                                                    

            Place: San Francisco, CA                                                   Place: Washington, DC
                                                By:    U.S. Environmental
            Phone: (415) 641-8332                                                      Phone: (800) 922-4330
                                                       Protection Agency, U.S.                                              Event: Environmental Technology
                   Janis Prifti                                                       (Note: This event is also scheduled
                                                       Geological Survey,                                                          Expo ETE ’97
                                                                                      for November 13–14 in San
                                                       Alaska Oil and Gas                                                   By:    National Registry of
            Event: Wastewater Treatment with                                          Francisco, CA.)
                                                       Association, Alaska                                                         Environmental
                   Constructed Wetlands
                                                       Department of Environ-                                                      Professionals, U.S. EPA
            By:    American Society of                                                Event: Water Quality Technology
                                                       mental Conservation,                                                        Region 4, EPA Technol-
                   Civil Engineers                                                           Conference
                                                       EcoSynergy, HDR Inc.,                                                       ogy Innovation Office,
            Date: October 22–24                                                       By:    American Water Works
                                                       and the Municipality of                                                     and U.S. Army Corps of
            Place: Houston, TX                                                               Association
                                                       Anchorage                                                                   Engineers Waterway
            Phone: (800) 548-2723                                                     Date: November 9–12
                                                Date: October 26–31                                                                Experiment Station
                                                             Place: Denver, CO
                                                Place: Anchorage, AK                                                        Date: November 19–21
                                                                                      Phone: (303) 347-6194
                                                Phone: (907) 474-7800                                                       Place: Atlanta, GA
            Event: Sixth Annual Conference                                                   Brian Murphy
                                                                                                      Phone: (770) 279-4388
                   and Exhibit
            By:    National Onsite Wastewater                                         Event: Seventh Annual Texas
                                                Event: Sustainable Building                                                 Event: Joining Forces: Education
                   Recycling Association                                                     Water Law Conference
                                                       Northwest Conference                                                        and Action for Ground-
            Date: October 22–25                                                       By:    CLE International
                                                       and Trade Show                                                              water
            Place: College Station, TX                                                Date: November 13–14
                                                By:    Public Technology Inc.                                               By:    The Groundwater
            Phone: (800) 966-2942                                                     Place: Austin, TX
                                                       and the City of Seattle                                                     Foundation
                   Pamela Franzen                                                     Phone: (303) 377-6600
                                                Date: October 27–29                                                         Date: November 22–24
                                                Place: Seattle, WA                                                          Place: Oak Brook, IL
                                                Phone: (206) 842-8995                                                       Phone: (800) 858-4844
                                                       Kathleen O’Brien

       22                                                                                                           SMALL FLOWS-Fall 1997; Vol.11, No. 4
               Calendar of Events                                                  Cameon Named Small Flows Editor
                                                                                   P.J. Cameon, who served as in-        Cameon also has extensive news-
                                                                                   terim editor of Small Flows for       paper experience, working as a
                                                                                   much of this year, was officially     reporter and copy editor for several

   DECEMBER JANUARY                                                                named editor this summer, accord-
                                                                                   ing to Peter Casey, National Small
                                                                                   Flows Clearinghouse (NSFC)
                                                                                                                         years after receiving a bachelor of
                                                                                                                         science degree in journalism. He is
                                                                                                                         currently pursuing a master’s de-
   Event: 1997 Annual Meeting and           Event: Ninth Annual On–Site
                                                                                   program coordinator.                  gree in journalism.
          State Leadership Forum                   Treatment and Disposal
   By:    Council of State                         Conference
                                                                                   Before working with Small Flows,      Cameon said he plans to continue
          Governments                       By:    Auburn University
                                                                                   Cameon had worked as a writer         the high quality work of his prede-
   Date: December 5–9                              Engineering Extension
                                                                                   and editor with the NSFC’s sister     cessors by providing useful infor-
   Place: Honolulu, HI                             Service
                                                                                   organization, the National Drink-     mation on wastewater-related
   Phone: (606) 244-8000                    Date: January 21–22
                                                                                   ing Water Clearinghouse. Much of      issues relevant to small communi-
                                            Place: Auburn, AL
                                                                                   this work involved writing articles   ties and rural areas. Within the
   Event: Third Annual Kentucky             Phone: (800) 446-0382
                                                                                   for the newsletter Water Sense,       next few months, he also plans to
          Onsite Wastewater                        (334) 844-5720
                                                                                   which provides information about      include a readership survey in
          Association Conference                   Elaine H. Ridgeway
                                                                                   project funding and financing         Small Flows to obtain feedback
   By:    Kentucky Onsite
                                                                                   alternatives for small drinking       concerning the publication’s con-
          Wastewater Association            Event: Minnesota Onsite Sewage
                                                                                   water and wastewater systems.         tent and design.
   Date: December 9–11                             Treatment Contractors
   Place: Louisville, KY                           Association Convention &
   Phone: (502) 778-3624
          Matt Byers                        By:
                                                   MOSTCA                          Health Association Requesting
   Event: Operation and Mainte-
                                            Date: January 25–28
                                            Place: St. Cloud, MN                   Abstracts for Conference
          nance of Pumps                    Phone: (612) 433-4178
                                                                                   Abstracts are being accepted for      The deadline for submitting ab-
   By:    Rutgers University Cook                  Cyndi Spencer
                                                                                   the Onsite Wastewater Systems         stracts (100 word maximum) is
          College Office of Con-
                                                                                   (OSWS) Management Program of          November 28, 1997. Recommen-
          tinuing Professional
                                                                                   the 1998 National Environmental       dations from two professionals in
                                                                                   Health Association (NEHA) An-         the environmental field should be
   Date: December 10–12
                                                                                   nual Education Conference and         submitted with each abstract.
   Place: New Brunswick, NJ
   Phone: (732) 932-9271
                                                                                                                         For more information, contact
          Dave Sandrowitz
                                                                                   NEHA is seeking papers that address   NEHA at (303) 756-9090, ext. 312.
                                                                                   management, technological ad-         Abstracts may be mailed to NEHA,
                                                                                   vances, and regulations for OSWS.     Attn: Education Manager, 720 S.
   Newsletter Explores Options                                                     The NEHA event is scheduled for
                                                                                                                         Colorado Blvd., Suite 970S, Den-
                                                                                                                         ver, CO 80246.

   System Privatization Can Be an                                                  June 27–July 1, 1998, in Las
                                                                                   Vegas, Nevada.

   Emotional Subject
   Emotions can run high when a             tracting with a company to operate
                                                                                   Video Outlines Innovative
   community considers “public-
   private partnerships” or
                                            a system, to what is sometimes
                                            called ‘full privatization,’ where a
                                                                                   Techniques for Development
   “privatization” of its water or          private company actually owns and A new video that highlights tech-          ment rights, rural clustering, and
   wastewater systems.                      operates the facility,” according to niques used to prevent sprawl           traditional neighborhood develop-
                                            the newsletter.                       patterns of development is avail-      ment. The techniques are clearly
   This doesn’t need to be the case.                                              able from the Chesapeake Bay           explained with graphics and foot-
   Even though these concepts can be        The publication discusses reasons     Local Government Advisory Com-         age and are supported by inter-
   confusing, particularly to local         to privatize, common obstacles,       mittee.                                views with local government offi-
   officials, a little education can go a   and considerations when contract-                                            cials, developers, and citizens.
   long way toward clarifying               ing for services or selling systems Beyond Sprawl: Towards Sustain-
   privatization options.                   to private buyers. It also covers the able Patterns of Growth for the        Municipal officials, planners,
                                            role of state regulators and pro-     21st Century leads viewers             citizens groups, and other decision
   The Summer 1997 issue of Water           vides a brief glossary and listing of throughout the Chesapeake Bay          makers can use the video to stimu-
   Sense, published by the National         resources for additional information. watershed to visit hands-on ex-        late discussions on growth issues,
   Drinking Water Clearinghouse                                                    amples of innovative techniques       generate ideas for their jurisdic-
   (NDWC), addresses this need for          A partnership with the private         that help to protect natural re-      tions, and initiate new planning
   information. Throughout this theme       sector may not work for everyone,      sources, preserve farmland, and       techniques to preserve their com-
   issue, the newsletter explains how       but it provides another tool that      improve economic vitality while       munities’ character.
   small communities might involve          small communities can explore          protecting the bay and its 64,000
   the private sector in providing          when seeking the best solution for     square-mile watershed.             To borrow a copy of the video,
   drinking water or wastewater ser-        their situation.                                                          write to the Chesapeake Bay
   vices.                                                                          The 15-minute video details six    Local Advisory Committee, 416
                                            To obtain a free copy of this issue,   techniques to control development: Goldsborough St., Easton, MD
   “Private sector involvement can          call the NDWC at (800) 624-8301,       urban growth boundaries, infill    21601, or call (800) 446-5422.
   cover a wide range of options,           and request Item #WSENSE11.            development, transit-oriented
   from simply contracting out engi-        The newsletter also may be down-       development, transfer of develop-
   neering or billing services, to con-     loaded from the NDWC’s Web site,

SMALL FLOWS-Fall 1997; Vol.11, No. 4                                                                                                                            23
             Small Flows
           Volume 11, Number 4, Fall 1997

                                                                            Also in this issue
                                                                           Small Community’s Call to NSFC Results
                                                                       1   in Big Savings

                                                                           Alternative Sewers: Cost-effective
                                                                       1   Option for Many Small Communities

            Alternative Septic System Test                             5   Improving the Public’s Perception
                                                                           of Biosolids

            Center Planned in Massachusetts                            8   Washington State Approves
                                                                           Sequencing Batch Process
            see page 20                                                    Joining Forces To Meet Small Community
                                                                      18   Wastewater Treatment Needs

             L   SMALL
          NA                     National Small Flows Clearinghouse


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                                      24                                        SMALL FLOWS-Fall 1997; Vol.11, No. 4

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