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Were they really the good old days?
If you talk to Alfonzo “Al’’ Pavlicek about his long career installing septic systems, you might wonder why so many people look back fondly at the way things used to be.
When Pavlicek first grabbed the pick and shovel for Van Delden Wastewater Systems in San Antonio, Texas, the crews had a daily quota: 150 feet of trench, 18 inches deep and 2 feet wide. It was 1960 and much of the dirt work was done by hand.
“I’ve still got calluses from I don’t know how many years back,’’ recalls Pavlicek, 73, whose bosses estimated he’d installed 5,000 septic tanks after 50 years. “Sometimes you would think, ‘I can’t do this.’ But you can, especially if you’re young. The shovel was there and the pick was there … pain and sweat, that’s about all it is.’’
When Pavlicek reflects on a lifetime working in the industry, he sees equipment advances that have made the job faster and easier, and onsite system options for customers that work better and are incredibly reliable.
But still, at its heart installing septic systems remains difficult, challenging work that only a small percentage of the American workforce feels called to do, he says. And Pavlicek congratulates anyone who’s tough enough and determined to make installing a career.
“It’s a good, hard job and you make a lot of people happy,’’ says the installer who retired recently.
A LOYAL WORKER
Pavlicek worked for three generations of Van Deldens: Gary, Garrett, and now brother and sister Chad and Courtney Van Delden. He started making 75 cents an hour, but recalls how the company boosted his wage to $1 a few weeks after he started on an installing crew. His hard work and loyalty over the years was answered by loyalty from his bosses. That’s one reason he put in so many years for the company.
“If you have people who, whatever you need, they’re there to help you, it’s kind of hard to leave them,’’ he says. “Mr. Van Delden would always loan me money if I needed to take the kids or my wife to the doctor. How can you leave someone who would take the shirt off his back to help you? I had to repay him by working my butt off and doing the best job I could.’’
Another reason Pavlicek stayed in the industry all these years was that he genuinely enjoyed the work, no matter how many days the summer heat rose past 100.
“I really liked to work outdoors; I don’t care for an inside job,’’ says Pavlicek, echoing a sentiment I hear frequently from installing pros. “Another thing I loved about it was that every three days I was working at a new location. We put in septic tanks all over this side of Texas, 150 miles either way from San Antonio.’’
New locations every week meant new challenges in topography, soils and other site considerations, requiring the installing crews to come up with fresh solutions for wastewater treatment. During Pavlicek’s tenure, the earth moving machinery and system components improved dramatically, meaning his crews could get things done more efficiently and with less effort, and deliver systems that worked better and will last longer. That’s the biggest reward for the onsite installer, he says.
In the early days, systems consisted of a septic tank and concrete drain tile running out in the backyard, and with little or no government regulation of the industry, corners could be cut by competitors, he says. But as the industry has grown up, systems are better built, strictly regulated and have the potential to last a lot longer.
“It’s good for the homeowner. He gets a better quality job for what he’s paid for,’’ he says. “The way the old systems were designed, you were lucky if you could get 22 years out of them. Now you can get more than that, not just because of the variety of systems out there, but because you are required to have more maintenance, too.’’
The machines used to install the system components are vastly improved, too, according to Pavlicek, who was often at the controls of a Case backhoe over the decades.
“I noticed every year they made a new machine and they just kept improving them. Nowadays you can hardly wear a machine out. They’re too durable,’’ he says. “Throughout the years they would fix what was weak about a machine, so now when you buy a new machine, all you have to do is maintain it.’’
FIND A GOOD EMPLOYER
Pavlicek worked through many Texas booms and busts, and he and wife Martha raised four children and have seven grandchildren. Retirement comes as his knees and lower back are giving him some trouble. “I feel like a half-wore-out horse. Even though I’m not pulling the plow, I still feel it,’’ he says. He hopes to do more fishing and hunting with family. “I’ve got to keep on truckin’ somehow.’’
Pavlicek’s not sure whether there will be enough people ready to take on the hard work and challenge of installing septic systems in the future. For young people who want to work outside and pursue a career in the industry, he offers a simple bit of advice.
“In this business, there’s lots of competition and a lot of work out there. Find somebody good to work for,’’ he says. “I was lucky enough to work with people who appreciated everything I did for them. It’s hard to find somebody who will take care of you for so many years.’’
Good luck, Al, and enjoy a well-deserved retirement!Septic Tank Installation, Septic Tank Installation San Antonio
As-built drawings are a topic that comes up during any installer training we conduct. Clearly, if there is an engineer or designer involved other than the installer, the responsibility for accurate drawings of the final installation may vary.
However, we always point out having good, accurate drawings for your records is important. So either you should obtain a copy if it is someone else’s responsibility or you should capture that information for your records. Some installers suggest that they always take their own measurements and record their install drawings to protect themselves from bad drawings or misinformation provided by others involved in the project.
We would probably agree, especially since we know who will be the first person called if there is a problem or question about the system. It’s usually the installer! If there is a problem or question, the last thing the installer wants is to find out the information on the system is incorrect.
There are other good reasons for having accurate as-built drawings. They allow easy component location by the installer or others in the future, whether for inspection or maintenance. They help with troubleshooting problems as they arise and provide information important to future system additions.
ACCURACY IS CRITICAL
These drawings should be to scale and as accurate as possible. This means using some type of graph paper where each square represents a certain number of feet. We always like to use graph paper that is 10 squares to the inch, which makes for easy conversion.
The drawings should provide accurate locations for each component of the system, including the septic tank, pump tank, drop or distribution boxes, trenches, pressure manifolds and inspection pipes. On sewage tanks, the manhole access points should be located. If system monitoring is required for the permit, monitoring access points should be located. Sizes of the septic and pump tanks should be provided.
Any benchmarks should be located. When there is a pump in the system, there should be information from the design about the pump capacity.
Installers often ask if they need to survey the lot. The answer usually is no. Even though surveying is the most accurate way of locating the system and components, it is also the most expensive and time consuming. Survey precision is not needed to locate the components in the future if the drawings are to scale and the measurements are accurate. If there is elevation, it’s important to have the benchmarks located and information about those specific requirements so they can be measured in the future.
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION
There are two other main ways to capture information for the as-built drawings. The first is to measure the distance to the center of each component from a set point on the face of the building; making sure there is a north arrow or indicator so direction is recorded. This is not as reliable as the second and preferred method: swing tie.
The swing tie method requires measuring two established points from the system component being located. Other significant features can be located, such as well location, large trees or small outbuildings. These points need to be on something that will be permanent, and can easily be located in the future. Usually this means using two points on the house or building, often the corners.
To measure the distances we recommend having a tape that is at least 100 feet long. Otherwise you will likely find your tape does not reach all the way with one measurement, complicating the process. The tape can be in inches or tenths; if it is inches the measurement should be accurate to the inch; if it is in tenths accurate to the one-tenth inch.
The tape should be held tight and the measurements taken in a straight line. It can be laid on the ground and does not need to be held horizontally to account for slope. Others who follow will be measuring with the same slopes, so it will be accurate enough. All necessary components should be located.
A handy way of recording the information on the drawing is to have a table showing the measurement from each point to the component being located. The component on the drawing can be indicated by a number. Remember the drawing is done to scale so that those points are accurately depicted in the drawing. This method is useful when two access points on a septic tank are located.
Measurements should be made and recorded from the first point and from the second point. The measurements should be taken before backfilling; a good time is while you’re waiting for the inspector to arrive for the compliance inspection.
We also suggest the installer revisit the site 20 to 30 days after completion of the system. This allows the installer to see if there are settling problems with the backfill and check in with the homeowner.
This is a good opportunity to offer other services your company may provide in terms of long-term maintenance. It is also a chance to give the homeowner information on the “care and feeding” of the system. Information provided can include a copy of the as-built drawing and information on the need to maintain the system. If the installer is also a service provider, it would be good to propose a maintenance program for the system.Septic Tank Installation, Septic Tank Installation San Antonio
Matt’s Cold Weather Products literally rolled out its frost and freeze protection Sewer Blanket for septic tanks, sewer lines and drainfields at the 2013 Pumper & Cleaner Environmental Expo in Indianapolis. Primarily marketed in Minnesota and portions of Canada, the product reached a broader national and international audience at the Expo.
“I’m a pumper myself, and I’ve been selling them out of the truck for five years to my customers,” says Mike Casey, sales and marketing manager for Matt’s and owner of Bunes Septic Service in Grand Rapids, Minn. “In the last few years we’ve put them in the local stores and we’re trying to expand that.”
Using no electricity, the blanket is staked to the ground and can be used below grade, at grade or on mound systems. Waterproof, it sheds late fall rain and holds snow for added insulation.
“The product is pretty new, and it was more of an introductory mission,” Casey says of his Expo experience. “We weren’t expecting to sell a lot, and we actually didn’t sell any while we were there but we received some good feedback and we have gotten some follow-up from the show. The other thing is it’s seasonal, so we’ll see how it does in the fall.”
Among the Expo visitors who stopped by his booth, Casey says inspectors were most interested in the product.
“Surprisingly, we got a lot of feedback from regulatory people at the show,” he says. “That was kind of unexpected – people that are knowledgeable in terms of rulemaking, inspectors and municipal-type people – they were very interested in the product.”
Casey says regulators liked the idea of a simple way to solve widespread freezing problems in colder climates.
“Essentially, when a system freezes out, it’s turned off, so the homeowner has a few choices to make, and sometimes they’re environmentally poor choices, and I think the regulators are all too familiar with that,” Casey says. “I’ve seen where people have disconnected their pump and run their line over land and off into the woods, or wherever. It solves the problem, but it’s not the right way to solve the problem.”
Designed to replace straw in areas where freezing is a problem, the standard 6-feet by 20-feet cover is essentially a reusable insulated tarp that weighs approximately 10 pounds and can be rolled out in the fall and rolled up in the spring.
Casey also displayed pipe wrap made from the same fabric, as well as RV skirting. “It’s a way to seal up a camper in cold weather,” he says. “It was inspired by the oilfields – people living in campers in cold weather. We also have a survival bag. It’s like a sleeping bag made out of this material that you can carry with you in the truck if you’re stranded in the cold; you can climb in and stay warm. We also have a windshield cover that eliminates having to scrape your windshield in cold weather, and we’re prototyping a heated portable shop as well.” 218/689-1031; www.sewerblanket.com.Septic Tank Installation, Septic Tank Installation San Antonio
Association wages battle over disposal
A Michigan Court of Appeals ruling against Gmoser’s Septic Service, Whitney Blakeslee and the Michigan Septic Tank Association set a precedent for septage disposal. The plaintiffs argued that local ordinances first banned land application, then mandated that septage pumped within the local unit of government be disposed of at the municipal facility, thus creating a monopoly free to charge an arbitrary price for the service.
The Court of Appeals ruled local governments are within their rights with the requirements. A lack of preemption in MCL 324.11715(1) allows local governments to make stricter requirements than the law states, such as restricting haulers to dispose of septage originating within their boundaries at only their facility. Consequently, more townships and counties are taking steps to enact similar provisions.
MSTA president Joe Hall, writing in the association’s summer issue of Professional Pumper, reports the effect increased disposal rates have had on pumpers and their customers. Leoni Township wastewater treatment plant reported receiving 3.7 million gallons of septage (14 septic tanks per day) in 2007. The plant reported 2.3 million gallons (nine septic tanks per day) in 2011, after increasing the disposal fee to $210 for dumping 1,000 gallons of septage. In comparison, the current rate to dispose of 1,000 gallons of septage is $10 at the Munising plant, $15 at the Ludington plant, and $25 at the Alpena plant.
MSTA legislative consultant Judy Augenstein and State Rep. Ken Goike (R-Ray Township) are drafting legislation that would allow haulers to go to the facility of their choice. The bill also would remove the 2025 ban on septage storage facilities.
Septage survey ongoing
The Georgia Onsite Wastewater Association has asked everyone in the state’s pumping industry to complete an online survey to help determine the extent of the septage disposal problem. Officials will use the results to persuade legislators to mandate more disposal options. Go to http://survey.constantcontact.com/survey/a07e7bw9slphffohqpz/start.
NOVA SCOTIA, CANADA
Mandatory effluent filters
As of May, Nova Scotia required effluent filters on all new residential septic tanks. The Waste Water Nova Scotia Society commissioned lawyer Ian MacLean to suggest ways onsite professionals could limit their liability. Besides recommending they do quality work and educate the homeowner, MacLean drafted a form for homeowners to sign, verifying that they understood they have an effluent filter and the importance of regular maintenance. A copy of the form is in the May 2013 newsletter at www.wwns.ca (scroll down). The form may be modified.
The association also created three educational onsite videos and plans to add more to its online library. Currently available are Selecting and Constructing a Raised Drainfield, Construction of a Pressurized Drainfield, and Flushing an Onsite Sewage Disposal System.
The field trip associated with the National Onsite Wastewater Recycling Association’s annual conference Nov. 17-20 in Nashville will cover a large cluster facility in the planning stage, another in the construction stage and a third in the operational stage. The conference will also have a three-hour session to explore establishing an industry standard for advanced onsite system design.
NOWRA is participating in a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency project to identify tools to help designers, engineers and community leaders decide whether large decentralized systems are better alternatives than municipal sewers. “Making it easier for communities faced with that crucial decision to find useful information on decentralized systems has been one of our industry’s biggest challenges,” says Eric Casey, NOWRA executive director. “The EPA’s efforts will help put decentralized systems more on a par with centralized options.”
Casey believes many tools that ought to be part of EPA’s toolbox are already available or in development. Examples include the decentralized wastewater cost estimation tool developed by John Buchanan, an effort spearheaded by the University of Minnesota to create a Community Septic System Owner’s Guide, and other projects from the Decentralized Wastewater Resources Collaborative. “One benefit of the effort may be to identify gaps where additional tools and resources should be developed,” says Casey.
NOWRA also is active in the U.S. Water Alliance, established to advance the nation toward watershed-based approaches to water quality and quantity challenges. Alliance executive director Ben Grumbles invited NOWRA to participate, as he felt decentralized wastewater treatment was a big part of the answer.
“The alliance is an excellent platform from which to implement one-water management, and move away from managing stormwater, drinking water and wastewater as separate entities,” says Casey. “One-water management is about diversifying our industry, creating jobs and changing people’s attitudes to accept large decentralized systems as viable alternatives to sewers. NOWRA wants those systems to become a stronger leg of the stool supporting the industry.”
To that end, NOWRA and the Water Environment Federation are cosponsoring a seminar on Oct. 6 in Chicago at WEFTEC 2013 that will make the case to engineers and utility managers that large decentralized systems can be profitably built and maintained at lower cost than conventional sewers.
NOWRA is renewing its efforts to secure more money from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund for individual, commercial and community-based onsite systems. Board member Bob Himschoot will chair the association’s Government Affairs Committee and spearhead the effort to lobby Congress. “If we can persuade Washington to change the rules, it will make a tremendous difference for our industry,” says Casey. “Our goal is always to improve conditions, support our members and sustain them in the future by providing more options.”
CALENDAR OF EVENTS
Virginia Onsite Wastewater Recycling Association Annual Conference, Sheraton Roanoke Hotel and Conference Center, Roanoke. 540/465-9623; www.vowra.org.
Onsite Water Protection Conference, Jane S. McKimmon Conference & Training Center, Raleigh, N.C. Contact Joni Tanner at 919/513-1678; email@example.com, or visit www.cvent.com/events/29th-annual-onsite-water-protection-conference/event-summary-733a0e99dfd84a8eb17f28e297bc425d.aspx.
TRAINING AND EDUCATION
Licensing classes are the joint effort of the Alabama Onsite Wastewater Association and University of West Alabama. Courses are at UWA Livingston campus unless stated otherwise:
- Oct. 2-4 – Advanced Installer I
- Oct. 24-25 – Continuing Education, Mobile
- Nov. 6-8 – Advanced Installer II
The first day of continuing education classes is for installers and the second day is for pumpers and portable restroom operators. Call the training center at 205/652-3803 or visit http://aowatc.uwa.edu.
The University of Arizona Onsite Wastewater Education Program has a Soil and Site Evaluation for Onsite Wastewater Systems course Oct. 28-29 in Camp Verde. Contact Kitt Farrell-Poe at 520/621-7221, firstname.lastname@example.org, or http://ag.arizona.edu/waterquality/onsite.
The California Onsite Wastewater Association is offering these classes:
- Oct. 2-3 – NAWT Operation and Maintenance Level 1, Napa
- Oct. 17 – System Controls, Sonora
- Nov. 12-13 – Integrated Water Technologies, Sacramento
Call Kit Rosefield at 530/513-6658 or visit www.cowa.org.
The Delaware Technical Community College-Owens Campus has these courses:
- Online: Pumps, Motors and Controls – enrollment 9/15 to 12/13
- Sept. 18 – Lagoon Treatment & Spray Irrigation of Treated Wastewater: An Operator’s Guide
- Sept. 21 – Basic Surveying Principles
- Sept. 27 – Onsite Disposal System Hydraulics
- Oct. 3, 10, 17 – OSHA (1926) Construction Safety Course
- Oct. 22 – Dec. 3 (7 sessions) – Onsite License Preparation Course
- Oct. 1 – Basic Principles of Onsite Pumping Systems
- Oct. 2-3 – Operation and Maintenance of Onsite Septic Systems for Service Providers Workshop
- Oct. 7 – Confined Space Entry
- Oct. 9 – Excavation Safety
- Oct. 21 – Pumps: Motors and Controls
- Oct. 23 – Inspection of Onsite Wastewater Systems
- Oct. 28 – Membrane Technology & Application for Selective Pollutant Removal
- Oct. 30 – Designing Drip Irrigation Onsite Systems
- Nov. 7 – Innovative and Alternative Onsite Systems
- Nov. 7 – DOT Regulations Review for Pumpers
- Nov. 8 – Pumps: Installation, Maintenance and Repair
- Nov. 13 – Risers, Baffles and Filters: Installation and Repair
- Nov. 13 – Vacuum Truck Basics
- Nov. 13 – Operation and Maintenance of Innovative and Alternative Systems
- Nov. 14 – Aggregate-Free Alternatives for Onsite Disposal Systems
- Nov. 15 – Pump Hydraulics
- Nov. 20 – Alternative Treatment and Disposal Options for Wastewater Facilities
- Nov. 22 – Onsite Control Systems
- Nov. 22 – Submersible Pumps
- Nov. 26 – Soils-Based Approach to Siting Wastewater Disposal
- Nov. 27 – Replacement of Onsite Systems
Call Hilary Valentine at 302/259-6384.
The Iowa Onsite Waste Water Association has these courses:
- Oct. 9 – Basic System Design and Installation, Charles City
- Nov. 22-23 – Installation Overview with CIOWTS Test, Knoxville
Contact Alice Vinsand at 515/225-1051, email@example.com, or visit www.iowwa.com.
The University of Minnesota Onsite Sewage Treatment Program has these classes:
- Oct. 3 – Soils Continuing Education, Brainerd
- Oct. 22-25 – Intermediate Onsite System Design and Inspection, Brainerd
- Nov. 20-21 – General Continuing Education, St. Cloud
Call Nick Haig at 800/322-8642 (612/625-9797) or visit http://septic.umn.edu.
The Missouri Smallflows Organization has these CEU courses:
- Oct. 9-10 – High Strength Waste, Maryland Heights
- Oct. 30 – Earthen Structures, Camdenton
- Oct. 31 – Hydraulics, Camdenton
- Nov. 5-6 – Operations & Maintenance, Liberty
- Nov. 19-20 – Operations & Maintenance, Springfield
Call Tammy Trantham at 417/739-4100 or visit www.mosmallflows.org.
The New England Onsite Wastewater Training Center at the University of Rhode Island in Kingston has these courses:
- Oct. 1 – Technology Vendor Field Demo
- Oct. 3 – Bottomless Sand Filter Design and Installation
- Oct. 31 – Rhode Island Designer Examination Prep
- Nov. 5 – AutoCALCS – Automated Support Materials for Pump Timers, Tanks, Chambers, Bottomless Sand Filter Sizing and Buoyancy Calculations
- Nov. 14 – Identifying and Managing High Strength Wastewater
- Nov. 21 – Rhode Island Regulatory Setbacks and Buffers
Call 401/874-5950 or visit www.uri.edu/ce/wq.
The North Carolina Septic Tank Association has these classes:
- Oct. 14 – Installer/Inspector, Mooresville
- Oct. 28 – Installer/Inspector, Bolivia
- Oct. 29 – Pumper and Land Application, Bolivia
- Nov. 11 – Installer/Inspector, Greensboro
- Nov. 12 – Pumper and Land Application, Greensboro
Call the association at 336/416-3564 or visit www.ncsta.net.
The North Carolina Pumper Group and Portable Toilet Group have an educational seminar on septage management and land application on
Dec. 14 in Raleigh. Call Joe McClees at 252/249-1097 or visit www.ncpumpergroup.org or www.ncportabletoiletgroup.org.
The Chemeketa Community College in Salem has a Maintenance Operator class on Nov. 4-5. Call 503/399-5181 or visit www.chemeketa.edu/busprofession/ccbi/customizedtraining/deq/classes.html.
Utah State University has onsite wastewater treatment certification and renewal workshops in Logan on:
- Oct. 8-10 – Level 3 Certification
- Oct. 16 – Level 3 Renewal
Call Ivonne Harris at 435/797-3693 or visit http://uwrl.usu.edu/partnerships/training/classes.html.Septic Tank Installation, Septic Tank Installation San Antonio
There are a lot of reasons you might want to join your colleagues in Nashville, Tenn., for the National Onsite Wastewater Recycling Association’s 2013 Annual Conference & Expo, Nov. 17-20, 2013, at the Millennium Maxwell House Hotel. Here are 10 great ones:
1. Get ideas to help support your current business. Through education sessions, conversations with colleagues and meetings with many of the industry’s most progressive and innovative companies in the exhibit hall, you can get new ideas for building your existing business or pursuing new business opportunities.
2. Discover speed vending. This is sort of like speed dating, except the goal is to help you develop relationships with onsite industry product companies. We’ve set aside time for each exhibitor to help you better understand what they do through a brief (10 minutes maximum) overview of their products and services.
3. Find out the latest in high-strength wastewater. HSW is more than just restaurant wastewater. Most non-residential onsite systems address waste streams that qualify as “high-strength,” and this topic is not covered enough. You’ll learn the latest design, engineering and technological trends in the development of high-strength wastewater treatment. We are devoting a full day of sessions to this important but infrequently covered topic.
4. Meet your continuing education requirements. In most states, NOWRA’s conference curriculum qualifies for credit hours in licensing or professional certification programs. With more than 30 breakout sessions, general sessions and a field trip, you can probably satisfy your continuing education requirements right here.
5. Attend a field trip highlighting the wide variety of decentralized systems in Tennessee. The Nashville area offers a diverse mix of decentralized technologies and management regimes and the field trip is intended to provide attendees with a broad survey of that mix. Participants on the field trip will visit and discuss: decentralized cluster systems with a variety of management types in place – owners, government and private industry; different technologies for high-strength waste solutions; residential systems and decentralized clusters under construction.
6. Learn why the Chesapeake Bay cleanup may have an impact on the entire onsite industry. Without a great deal of fanfare, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has developed a detailed guidance document for management of onsite systems within the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Why does this matter to you if you don’t live in that watershed? Because this document may be the template EPA will use for watersheds around the country as they continue to require nutrient reductions for nitrogen and phosphorous.
7. See how the lack of federal funding hurts our industry and what we must do about it. The onsite industry represents 25 percent of the nation’s wastewater infrastructure, yet receives little or no federal support, while public sewer systems receive billions of dollars. The time has come for our industry to fix this unfair situation. Hear about NOWRA’s plans to change this and why it matters to you.
8. Get back more than you put in. If you get one good idea that translates into more business or a better way to do things, you will more than justify your cost of attending. Attending this conference is an investment in you and your business.
9. See old friends; make new ones. Sometimes the best takeaway ideas at a conference come from the people you meet – a chat in a hallway, at lunch, over a cocktail. You’ll have lots of time to connect with colleagues at receptions, lunches and breakfasts. Plus we’ll provide shuttle service for a night on the town in Nashville’s awesome entertainment district.
10. Have fun in Nashville. Nashville offers a dazzling variety of things to do and see – museums, plantations, shopping and great dining – but the biggest attraction in Music City is, well, music! While Nashville is well known as the home of country music, you can find pretty much any kind of music and entertainment in the city, especially in the dozens of restaurants, clubs and music venues in the heart of the downtown Entertainment District.
To find out everything the NOWRA conference has to offer, visit www.nowra.org/AC2013 for full details. Hotel and early registration discounts end October 24.Septic Tank Installation, Septic Tank Installation San Antonio
Dripline system solves discharge issues in Indiana community
Problem: With limited soils and small lot sizes, most of the septic systems in the community of Fulda, Ind., discharged to existing stormwater drains and a small creek. Exposed sewage and pungent odor during warm weather forced them to look for an alternative solution. Flows for the 64 total connections (59 residential, one church, one tavern, one gas station, one community center and one small industrial business) were estimated to average 8,750 gpd.
Solution: Bernardin, Lochmueller and Associates Inc. installed an Eco-Treatment System from Geoflow consisting of three primary components: a constructed wetland, a vegetated recirculating gravel filter and a 3.6-acre subsurface drip dispersal area with Wasteflow dripline. Permitted as a land application project, the dripline was buried belowground, where it effectively dispersed the effluent in green spaces in the community.
Result: Not only did the system and drip field overcome soil and site limitations, eliminate exposure and eliminate odors, it also met Indiana’s groundwater standard of 10 mg/L or less of total nitrogen on a year round basis. The system is proving to be cost-effective, particularly in operation and maintenance costs. 800/828-3388; www.geoflow.com.
Rockless system solves drainfield issues at central Florida convenience store
Problem: RaceTrac, a high-volume gas station/convenience chain with a store in Orange City, just north of Orlando in central Florida, was plagued with rising maintenance costs from a problematic aerobic system and a failed drainfield. Engineers decided to retrofit their existing tanks with pumps converting to a pressure-dosed system.
Solution: The store hired Acme Environmental Services of Mims, Fla., to install a low-profile multi-pipe “rockless” drainfield system from Plastic Tubing Industries. The 1,200-square-foot design involved eight separate 50-foot runs of the MPS-11 configuration. A 1-inch PVC pressure-dosed pipe was fed through end caps placed on the MPS-11 white lined two-hole distribution pipe. The distribution pipe was flanked by bundles of void pipe, eliminating the need for gravel. A PVC inspection port/riser was constructed at ground level within each distribution pipe.
Result: The riser provided the ability to monitor performance of each dosed pipe and check the drainfield level in each run. Since the dosing pipe rests unattached within the distribution pipe, it could be serviced without having to dig up the entire run by removing the end caps to retrieve a plugged line. The system has worked flawlessly since its completion in early June 2013. 800/780-5121; www.pti-pipe.com.Septic Tank Installation, Septic Tank Installation San Antonio
The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality is revising the Technical Guidance Manual for builders and septic system installers. The process started in spring with a public comment period. According to a department news release, the changes “address practices and policies of the Technical Guidance Committee, setbacks from drainfields to cutoff trenches, horizontal separation distances, permitting and design requirements for alternative public and private subsurface sewage disposal systems, and approval conditions and compost disposal requirements for composting toilet units.” The proposed revisions are available for download on the DEQ website: http://www.deq.idaho.gov/news-archives/2013/may/water-tgm-revisions-comment-050613.aspx.
After flooding in April, officials in Lake County waived and cut various fees temporarily. About 4,500 properties were damaged in the flooding. Fees for building permits were waived for repair and restoration work, including permits for interior alterations, electrical work, heating and air conditioning and water heaters. With many septic systems flooded, the county reduced the rate for disposal of septage at the Lake County Public Works Mill Creek Water Reclamation Facility. Haulers were given reduced disposal rates from May 14 to June 1 and agreed to pass the savings on to customers. The normal fee of up to $40 per 1,000 gallons was cut to $7.
The state Senate passed SB 11, giving newly created water districts the authority to tax private wells and onsite systems of property owners within proposed water/sewer utility districts. The bill resulted from the town of Stratham, which has no public water or sewer, seeking an inter-municipal agreement with the Town of Exeter to help attract businesses to the Route 108 corridor and to help offset tax burdens for property taxpayers.
A ruling by the North Carolina Division of Coastal Management allows Nags Head property owners to replace onsite systems lost to storms provided they are 50 feet from the water at low tide. It also classifies the system as part of the house, which can be rebuilt if it has not lost 50 percent or more of its value to storm damage. Coastal Management is a division of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
The Upper Delaware Council and representatives from Pennsylvania’s Wayne and Pike Counties believe the nitrate-restricting policy proposed by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection would make land adjacent to watersheds unusable for most purposes. The policy establishes setbacks for onsite systems at 150 feet from water and 30 feet from streams with exceptional value and high-quality waters. It also would require a system barrier preventing effluent from traveling underground. Water quality monitoring studies by three agencies prove current measures to protect the water quality in the river basin are successful, according to the Council.
A compromise bill (Senate 672 Substitute A) would create a stakeholders group to study how best to promote economic development while protecting the environment. The group must make recommendations by Jan. 31, 2015. The bill was introduced to counteract proposed legislation that would prevent cities and towns from becoming tougher on construction-related wetland and onsite system issues.Septic Tank Installation, Septic Tank Installation San Antonio
Got a few minutes between appointments for septic system work? Is your smartphone or tablet handy on the road, or are you sitting near your desktop computer in the office? Then we have a bonus for you – additional Onsite Installer content is available online. Find more of the latest wastewater industry news – from product releases to videos and podcasts to my editor’s blog – at www.onsiteinstaller.com. Here’s just a sampling of the latest content you can find online:
EDITOR’S BLOG: THEY PROMOTE THE ONSITE INDUSTRY
Through its new website blog, Ace Acme Septic Services is showing that individual service companies can become strong advocates for the decentralized wastewater industry. Todd and Kelly Summers are sharing their thoughts about a variety of septic system maintenance topics, hoping to educate homeowners around their Arlington, Wash., home base. As an example, take a look at their recent blog, entitled “What Are the Advantages of Using Septic Sewage Systems?” The company lays out its arguments for communities choosing decentralized treatment systems over hooking more homes to the big pipe. Link to their entertaining posts through my editor’s blog.
HOW TO COMBAT THE SKILLED TALENT SHORTAGE
Business-building writer David J. Baker says small businesses are at the beginning of a talent war: “As we begin the rapid rise out of one of the worst recessions on record, businesses in the onsite septic industry are seeing opportunities for growth. The stock market is setting records, almost weekly, housing is rebounding and mortgage rates are starting to bounce back. But there’s a great conundrum. Unemployment rates are still unusually high — still over 7 percent nationally. The problem is a current workforce that lacks the necessary skills required to perform the hundreds of jobs that growing companies are trying to fill.’’ Baker passes along information that drivers, technicians and skilled trades workers will be the most difficult to recruit moving forward. He shares tips on how your business can attract the very best.
PROPERLY PRICING YOUR ONSITE SYSTEM SERVICES
Onsite system expert Jim Anderson writes about how installers can price their projects accurately to ensure a profit. He presents a primer for contractors on writing a solid scope of services document that will help customers understand project invoices. “The price you present for the work has to reflect your actual costs, plus a reasonable profit for your efforts. This means you need to track equipment and machinery costs. Consider equipment rentals, fuel and labor costs if other workers are needed. All of these are important to running a successful and profitable business,’’ Anderson says. “This was brought home to me a long time ago when an installer I worked with frequently talked about bringing his son into the business and that his son was quick to accept jobs that were outside their normal working area.’’ The contractor was sometimes losing money on these jobs that looked lucrative at the start.Septic Tank Installation, Septic Tank Installation San Antonio
SJE-Rhombus hosts control panel training
SJE-Rhombus held a training session for 16 attendees representing distributors, installers and manufacturers at its headquarters in Detroit Lakes, Minn. The course included a float/alarm overview, basic electrical theory with multi-meters, component overview, control panel overview and configuration, hands-on control panel assembly, operation and troubleshooting, best installation practices and a tour of the facility.
Thompson Pump names branch manager of the year
Thompson Pump named Bobby Thompson Branch Manager of the Year. Thompson is manager of the Panama City, Fla., location and was recently promoted to territory manager, covering portions of Alabama, Florida and Georgia. He also received the Thompson Pump President’s Award for Excellence in Health & Safety for achieving zero OSHA recordable accidents and injuries.
Gorman-Rupp names rental sales manager
Gorman-Rupp Co. promoted Jamie Schoenian to rental sales manager. He has 15 years experience and will be responsible for sales, service, aftermarket, technical support and product forecasting between Gorman-Rupp and National Rental accounts.Septic Tank Installation, Septic Tank Installation San Antonio
Continuous-duty effluent pump
Heavy-duty effluent pumps from Ashland Pump feature continuous duty-rated PSC motors. The oil-filled pumps feature an upper and lower ball-bearing design and handle up to 1-inch solids. The line is available in different horsepower models. All feature a cast iron volute and impeller, and are available with a piggyback switch or in manual configuration. They have a standard three-year warranty. 855/281-6830; www.ashlandpump.com.
Pump backup system
Designed to deliver all the benefits of sound-attenuated silent pumps, the ReliaPrime emergency bypass station from Gorman-Rupp Company operates on natural gas, making it a quiet, efficient and environmentally friendly option. It features a 6-inch Super T Series pump capable of passing a 3-inch spherical solid, and offers a soundproof, lightweight aluminum enclosure with lockable, removable door panels. It is a complete backup package, ready for use in emergencies and power outages, primary pump repair and to provide additional pumping capacity. 419/755-1011; www.grpumps.com.
Grinder pump retrofit kit
The Grinder Pump Retrofit Kit from Goulds Water Technology – a Xylem Brand, is designed as a more economical option than replacing a residential grinder pump system. The kit allows for continuous operation, and can be retrofitted with other grinder pumps as well as progressive cavity pumps. The kit includes a single-phase, 2-hp motor with 60 Hz, 3450 RPM, 230 V and a capacitor start with winding thermal protector. It also includes piping and electrical connections for retrofitting to other pump systems. Capacity is up to 41 gpm with heads to 95 feet and discharge of 1 1/4 NPT. 866/325-4210; www.gouldswatertechnology.com.
S Pumps from Grundfos Pumps can be used for transferring unscreened raw sewage or water, pumping water containing sludge or pumping industrial effluent. They feature a SmartTrim impeller clearance adjustment system and SmartSeal for leakage prevention. The SmartTrim system makes it easy to adjust the factory-set impeller clearance to maintain efficiency. The SmartSeal auto-coupling gasket provides a leak-proof connection between the pump and the base unit of the auto-coupling system. The shaft seal is capable of rotating in either direction. When installed with separate pipework, sludge sedimentation can be avoided by back-flushing at regular intervals. 800/921-7867; www.grundfos.us.
Simplex/duplex grinder packaged system
Simplex and duplex systems from Franklin Electric/Little Giant Pump come with GP Series grinder pumps, check valves, a control panel with three switch floats that sense normal, high and alarm effluent levels, a large fiberglass basin with inlet hub, gas-tight covers with vent and discharge flanges, core seals, gaskets and hardware. The pump’s cutter design features anti-roping, self-aligning, self-sharpening cutters engineered with close clearances between the two notched rotary and stationary cutters for ideal grinding performance. 800/701-7894; www.franklin-electric.com.
Dual-discharge effluent pump
FL effluent pumps from Liberty Pumps are available in 1-, 1.5- and 2-hp models. They feature maximum head capabilities of over 130 feet and flows to 130 gpm. They are designed for STEP systems, mound systems, liquid waste transfer and higher head de-watering applications. A dual-sized discharge features a 1 1/2-inch removable flange with a 2-inch threaded port for connection to either pipe size. They also feature a standard 25-foot quick-disconnect power cord and dual shaft seals. They are built of heavy cast iron with an epoxy powder-coat finish and stainless steel fasteners. 800/543-2550; www.libertypumps.com.
Efficient solids-handling pump
The Hydromatic HPE premium-efficient solids-handling pump from Pentair / Myers is available up to 200 hp, and is engineered for lower life cycle costs and increased serviceability and pump life. It uses a premium-efficient, oil-filled motor that allows for not only less power consumption but also decreased operating temperatures and permanently lubricated bearings for extended pump life. Features include switchable seal design, optional quick-disconnect cord, optional shaft-grounding ring for use with VFDs, a bronze sleeve bearing and a seal-leak detector that alerts prior to water entry into the motor. 888/416-9513; www.hydromatichpe.com.
Linear air pump
Whirlwind STA Series linear air pumps from Septic Services are available in four models. The STA60N produces 2.4 cfm airflow at 2.18 psi and is used for tanks up to 500 gpd, 60 liters/minute. The STA80N produces 3.0 cfm airflow at 2.18 psi for tanks up to 750 gpd, 80 liters/minute. Both models come with an integrated hose bib and 3/16-inch male threaded pipefitting for a low-pressure alarm (available separately). The STA-Series is also available in the STA100 model, which produces 7.0 cfm airflow at 6.9 psi for tanks up to 1,000 gpd, 100 liters/minute. The STA80AL has integrated audible alarm and warning light to monitor pump performance, warning of low pressures requiring diaphragm replacement. The alarm activates when air pressure drops below functional level. They require no lubrication and feature a 6-foot power cord, inside threaded outlet port and an easy-access lid requiring no tools to access included filter. 800/536-5564; www.septicserv.com/store.
The Enviroprime System pump series from Thompson Pump provides reliable, automatic priming with the environmental advantage of not spilling pump fluids during initial priming and continued priming throughout operation. They are ideal for sewer bypasses and wastewater, and are available in sizes 2 to 18 inches with capacities up to 11,000 gpm, heads to 430 feet and can handle solids up to 4 inches. 800/767-7310; www.thompsonpump.com.
Turbine effluent pump
WTE Turbine Effluent pumps from Weber Industries – Webtrol Pumps are designed to handle demanding wastewater applications. They are constructed from 304 stainless steel as well as corrosion-resistant plastic, and feature a floating stack design that provides resistance to abrasive damage, extending the life of the pump. They are available in flow ranges from 5 to 60 gpm, 1/2 though 5 hp, 115- or 230-volt, single and three phase. 800/769-7867; www.webtrol.com.
Splitting distribution box
The Tru-Flow Splitter from Clarus Environmental is a distribution box that can accurately split wastewater effluent flows ranging from one-tenth to 30 gpm into two to five distribution lines. It is constructed of lightweight, non-corroding materials, and consists of two key components – the basin and the diverter. The bubble level design allows for simple post-construction adjustments, solving problems associated with distribution box settling. It may settle as much as 15 degrees to the front or back and/or 12 degrees to one side and, when adjusted, will still evenly split effluent. With a 4- or 6-inch riser to the surface, it is easy to inspect, adjust and maintain. 800/928-7867; www.clarusenvironmental.com.
Stabilized distribution box
Distribution boxes from Polylok/Zabel Environmental are available in 12- and 20-inch sizes. They accept 2-, 3-, 4-, and 6-inch pipe. The 12-inch box comes with stabilizing feet to anchor and prevent them from floating. They will accept risers to easily bring the box to grade (critical in states that mandate at-grade access). Additionally, pumpers, inspectors and service technicians can quickly identify an issue within the system without excavation. 877/765-9565; www.polylok.com.
Flow-dividing distribution box
Distribution boxes from Tuf-Tite offer flexibility in dividing septic tank effluent flow with the installation of the company’s Speed Levelers in each outlet. The boxes are available with four, six, seven or nine holes. The levelers can be inserted in each outlet and turned to adjust flow level. Risers are available for the four- and seven-hole boxes. All boxes come with snap-in outlet seals to match pipe used in specific situations, including corrugated pipe. 800/382-7009; www.tuf-tite.com.
Geotextile sand filter
The GSF Geotextile Sand Filter from Eljen Corporation provides advanced treatment and dispersal in the same footprint. The internal design provides sufficient void space to allow for aerobic conditions, while the Bio-Matt fabric promotes biological growth on its multiple surfaces. The fabric enhances system performance and keeps the biological growth away from native soil, preserving the soil’s long-term acceptance rate. Lightweight and easy-to-handle modules allow for quick delivery and can be used in areas where traditional advanced treatment units would be difficult to transport and install. 800/444-1359; www.eljen.com.
The GeoMat leaching system from Geomatrix Systems consists of a core of fused, entangled plastic filaments surrounded by a high-capillary geotextile fabric. It is compatible with pretreated wastewater or septic tank effluent, when sized accordingly. Uses also include subsurface irrigation and evapotranspiration systems. It is 1 inch high and available in 6-, 12- and 39-inch widths. A pressurized distribution pipe typically runs the entire length of the lateral for uniform application of wastewater. Additionally, it can be configured with a time-dose pump station for flow equalization. The combination of pressure dosing and flow equalization serves to reduce peak hydraulic loading. The thin and narrow profile, shallow burial depth and uniform hydraulic loading maximize oxygen transfer efficiency. It has complete surface contact with the soil, and is not reliant on complex valving and filtration systems. The distal head pressure is fully adjustable through manual zone valves. 888/764-5247; www.geomatrixsystems.com.
EZflow from Infiltrator Systems is an environmentally friendly replacement for stone and pipe septic drainfields, using an engineered geosynthetic aggregate modular design. Ideal for shallow installations, sloping sites or areas where contouring around trees and landscaping is needed, it is designed to improve infiltrative performance by eliminating the fines and by reducing compaction and embedment associated with crushed stone. Lightweight and easy to transport, the preassembled units feature a 3- or 4-inch perforated pipe surrounded by polystyrene aggregate and will not crush, degrade or breakdown over time. The aggregate is held in place with durable, high-strength netting. It comes in easy-to-contour 5- and 10-foot lengths in diameters of 7, 9, 10, 12, 13 or 14 inches. 800/221-4436; www.ezflowlp.com.
Drainfield dispersal system
Advanced Enviro-Septic (AES) from Presby Environmental is designed for residential, commercial and community use, and has been proven to remove up to 99 percent of wastewater contaminants without the use of electricity or replacement media. It does this by quickly and naturally establishing multiple bacterial treatment environments throughout the system that break down and digest wastewater contaminants leaving the septic tank. This passive process allows the system to discharge highly purified wastewater, preventing soil clogging and groundwater contamination. It is approved to the highest levels of treatment resulting in significant reductions in size, and has third party certifications from NSF Class-1, Cebedeau and BNQ. 800/473-5298; www.presbyenvironmental.com.
Slide rail system
The lift-out slide rail system from E-Z Out Manufacturing is designed for most vertical discharge-type submersible pumps under 5 hp, with 1-, 2- and 3-inch NPT discharge nozzles or 2- or 3-inch horizontal discharge. It is designed to provide easy aboveground service access for most submersible sewage, sump and grinder pumps from wet pit applications. The system can prevent the need or risk of a confined-space entry to service pumps. Pumps are removed from above sump for inspection and service. 604/942-7994.
Sim/Tech Filter offers long-radius white schedule 40 PVC sweeps for use on pressurized distribution laterals. In the past long-radius gray electrical sweeps have been used; however, some codes don’t allow use of electrical fittings on water systems. Two 45-degree elbows are commonly used, but don’t have the same long sweeping radius that allows much easier access to distribution laterals. They meet both the code and the convenience of the long radius. 888/999-3290; www.simtechfilter.com.Septic Tank Installation, Septic Tank Installation San Antonio