Alternative sewer waste system

Wherever there is no main sewer, generally in rural or remote areas, there is a need for an alternative system to deal with residential human waste.

There are dozens of systems appearing on State approved lists (including septic tanks, aerated wastewater treatment systems and sand filters) that offer individual residential wastewater treatment systems.

It would be easy to think the market is saturated. However, Innoflow Technologies (Australasian agent for Orenco Systems Incorporated) business development manager Dion Tucker begs to differ.

“There are plenty of options out there, but there are also plenty of failing systems. You only have to talk to your local Environmental Health Officer to realise the extent of the problem. Systems are failing and the quality of treated effluent being returned to the ground or worse, the waterways, is far from ideal.

“People are starting to understand this and along with the introduction of new standards (AS/NZ1546/1547) we will hopefully see a more stringent approach from authorities and a determination from homeowners to do the right thing.

“Homeowners need an alternative that doesn’t adversely affect their lifestyle, offers better whole-of-life cost advantages, and is a greener alternative for the environment.”

Since 2000, 20,000 AdvanTex® systems have been installed through North America, New Zealand and parts of Europe. This Orenco Systems Incorporated product is now being rolled out in Australia.

The AdvanTex is a recirculating textile packed bed filter, using an attached growth technology. Packed bed filters, use centrifugal pumps that run a few minutes an hour to periodically pump effluent (clarified wastewater) to a bed of treatment media. The AdvanTex system uses hanging sheets of synthetic textile as the media. Microorganisms living on the media digest the organic matter in the effluent, providing treatment. Because aerobic (oxygen-using) organisms are responsible for most of the treatment, the media must have an adequate supply of oxygen from the air.

This system takes in air through a vent. Normal air movements provide the circulation, so the system requires only enough electricity to run the pump intermittently.

The system offers the home owner an assurance of quality treated effluent (biochemical oxygen demand <10mg/litre and total suspended solids< 10mg/litre) being returned to the groundwater or used for garden irrigation via sub surface drip or shallow drain, along with approximately 65% removal of nitrogen.

“While there are dozens of systems available, you can count on a few fingers the number of systems that are capable of performing to the same level consistently,” Dion says.

The mainly passive process of the AdvanTex system offers advantages which include no noise, low power usage, no smell, fewer maintenance visits, infrequent pump outs (8-12 years), and a small footprint.

The system is lightweight and ideal for difficult to access sites (buoyancy countermeasures can be taken in high groundwater areas), and is aesthetically pleasing given it is predominantly installed completely below ground, with visible green access lids.

The cost of the unit is at the higher end; however ongoing power costs will reduce as there are no blowers running during the 24 hour, seven day a week period. Primary tank pump out intervals are also less frequent than that of an aerated treatment unit.

The majority of structural components in the system are made of resin-transfer, 8mm thick fibreglass. While the entire system is warranted for three years, its design life is well in excess of 25 years.

The system comes standard with an installed irrigation kit, which is also monitored as part of the regular service regime. Options for tertiary treatment can be added where a higher class of effluent is required in sensitive areas. Unlike many other systems, which use chlorine or a UV system in the line that pumps to irrigation, Innoflow and Orenco have developed an approach using a gravity-flow UV bulb for chemical-free, consistent-contact disinfection.

There is also an option to include an around-the-clock remote telemetry monitoring system.

The product has undertaken rigorous testing to the revised AS/NZ1546:2008 Standard and is currently approved in NSW, Queensland, Western Australia and Victoria.

Orenco has developed a unique management programme.

“The programme includes identifying and training authorised installers and service providers, and educating regulators, authorities, developers and consultants in how and why to design with AdvanTex.

“We start off with a set of tools and training aids to assist all parties who will work with us as partners and we will not sell a system without a three year minimum service contract which, given fewer service visits, a three year warranty and an easy maintenance regime, is not onerous on the wallet.”

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