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Wetland Sewage Treatment

 
Posts: 95
Location: New Hampshire
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Has anyone else experimented with wetland sewage treatment systems here in the US? Is it even legal or is it one of those things that the EPA thinks is verbotten? We're currently sitting on a failing septic system so looking at options that aren't going to cost an arm and a leg or a kidney to fix. I've seen sites in the UK and there was also an episode of 'beyond river cottage' that had wetland sewage construction. It looks as though it may give us a viable alternative alongside a grey water recycling system.

http://www.sgwpercolations.ie/Wetlands.htm

http://info.cat.org.uk/questions/water-and-sewage/i-am-not-connected-mains-sewerage-what-are-my-options

Peace

Jeff
 
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Posts: 1553
Location: Cascades of Oregon
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I guess your talking about a constructed wetland bio-reactor. It just so happens that Bend, Oregon is experimenting with this type of system in a green neighborhood. It is something that is allowed in Oregon. And I know of systems in Colorado.
Basically a basin lined and then filled with gravel with plants planted within the bed. Water enters at one end near the bottom and it flows through the matrix. Water level in the basin is about 6 inched below grade. The required travel time is about seven days in the system. Depending on effluent strength more or less time might be required.
The beauty of this system is that it appears that it does address pharmecuticals as it goes through the bed. Traditional septic systems and Oregon approved alternative nitrate reduction systems don't. The reduction in nitrates is as efective as alternative nitrate reduction systems at a reduced cost.
Wholewater.com might be a place for you to take a look at. The EPA does have material on constructed wetlands and various publications that address them.
Decenralized treatments like these might be able to address the growing infrastructure isues within the US.
 
Jeff McLeod
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Location: New Hampshire
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Thanks Robert - yes that sounds exactly like it. I guess my search for information has begun. It looks as though hybridized willows are available to do the job and by the look of it if you can coppice these on a bi-annual basis for both construction material as well as fuel. So that would also be a winner.

Peace

Jeff
 
Posts: 126
Location: Western North Carolina
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We also were sitting on a failing septic system a few years back. Our solution was to remove several sources of water going into the septic system. It worked! We removed:
- kitchen sink and dish washer
- 3 showers / 2 bathroom sinks
- washing machine
- and the sink in laundry room we use for cleaning vegetables, etc and other messy jobs

The toilets still go in the septic and one bathroom sink that was too hard to re-design. The gray-water goes out in one large line, downhill and then we can shoot it in three directions or just one of three areas at a time. We alternate the dump areas depending on rain, weather (at times the outside air temps and wind cause various suctions in the lines so we move them around).

Since we did the gray water line, we do not have any problem with the septic system. In one area, the drain field had bubbled up to the top of the ground. All we did was dump a whole load of wood chips on it and then topped it off with soil. Now, we just keep dumping wood chips in that area of the yard and so far it is OK. Six years this has worked.

Good luck.
 
Jeff McLeod
Posts: 95
Location: New Hampshire
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Mary Ann Asbill wrote:We also were sitting on a failing septic system a few years back. Our solution was to remove several sources of water going into the septic system. It worked! We removed:
- kitchen sink and dish washer
- 3 showers / 2 bathroom sinks
- washing machine
- and the sink in laundry room we use for cleaning vegetables, etc and other messy jobs

The toilets still go in the septic and one bathroom sink that was too hard to re-design. The gray-water goes out in one large line, downhill and then we can shoot it in three directions or just one of three areas at a time. We alternate the dump areas depending on rain, weather (at times the outside air temps and wind cause various suctions in the lines so we move them around).

Since we did the gray water line, we do not have any problem with the septic system. In one area, the drain field had bubbled up to the top of the ground. All we did was dump a whole load of wood chips on it and then topped it off with soil. Now, we just keep dumping wood chips in that area of the yard and so far it is OK. Six years this has worked.

Good luck.



Thanks Mary Ann - we are looking into that option as well. Our biggest concern at the moment is re-sale since we are definitely keen on selling this property up and moving out to something with a lot more land. We're in the same boat with the bubbling up leach field. I had heard that there is a way of mitigating it by having holes punched down into the field. Not sure how true that is. But I like the idea of adding more soil and wood chips.

Peace

Jeff
 
Mary Ann Asbill
Posts: 126
Location: Western North Carolina
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Hello - our system was one built about 20 years before and was, at first, built "proper" and inspected. Later, however, the home-owners laid gravel down in a trench and ran part of the drain field through a vegetable garden. I would not have done that but they did. We did not know it was like that when we bought the property. After about 5 months here, we noticed a terrible smell (sewage water) seeping out of the ground and beside the garden. The garden area was just slightly higher than the wet area. The drain field was leaking out of the garden and then in the open.

After asking questions, a neighbor (who claimed to be a co-conspirator to the home-made drain field) explained the tinkered with drain field.

We simply took a huge load of wood chips (I am not sure how to say measurements but it was a dump truck full.....I was say about the size of 6 or 8 pick-up trucks full) and dumped it on the wet area and spread it out. Then, a neighbor offered to dump some dirt and it was about 4 pick-up truck size fulls. We just dumped that on top of the wood chips and spread it out. We then planted lilies, plain ole grass and some odds and ends of flower seeds and left it alone. We weed whack it when it looks terrible but for the most part, we just leave it alone.

That was about 8 years ago....maybe 9....and so far it has not seeped back up. But, we also cut the gray water off and that probably helped too.

If you are planning a sale, yes - I would not do the gray water part unless you know how to do it yourself and can put it back "normal" (to code) before you start showing the house. Even just putting the washing machine water off the line might help. Can you run the washer water out somehow?

Check and be sure no pipes are leaking water. Even a little leak in a sink can be putting too much water in there. Try to do the "if its yellow" and reduce the toilet water. Anything that can keep water out of the septic might help.

Good luck!
 
Jeff McLeod
Posts: 95
Location: New Hampshire
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Found another solution ..... i think at least for this system. And it's totally legal which is a plus. There's a few companies out there that sell essentially a kit to convert an anerobic system into an aerobic system. By the look of it the kits include an air pump, aerobic enzymes, some kind of filter rig and a grease trap. Not sure if anyone else has tried them but at this point I'm thinking that it may be worth the $500 to give it a shot.

 
Robert Ray
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Location: Cascades of Oregon
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Jeff, You mentioned failed system. What is the issue with your system?
 
Jeff McLeod
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Location: New Hampshire
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Hi Robert - it looks as though the leech field has or is failing. We have noticed a lot of standing water and it gets pretty smelly.
 
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Location: Ireland
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Hi Jeff, if your system is still smelly and ponding one year on, perhaps you'd like to have a look at an unlined constructed wetland in that area. If you want guidance, the best one would probably be the Irish ICW Guidance documents. just follow the link http://www.wetlandsystems.ie/watertips.html and scroll down a bit.
 
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