Home Septic Systems Wilmington DE
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New Castle, DE
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Penns Grove, NJ
Home Septic Systems
Some people don't like to read about septic tanks, their problems and available alternatives. Their septic motto might be, "out of sight, out of mind." But if and when the time comes that their system needs fixing or fails outright, you can bet they'd want to know what the experts have to say about maintenance and alternative treatment systems. Septic tanks and alternative systems may not be pleasant subjects, but they are necessary and important to prevent contamination of the environment. These systems play a part in maintaining quality water supplies for the population in general, not just the homeowners with septic systems. At least a quarter of the homes in the United States are not connected to city sewers, according to the National Small Flows Clearinghouse, a nonprofit organization that receives funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The figure can be as high as 40 percent in some parts of the country. (See the map on page 46.) And those houses are not just in rural areas. For instance, there are many onsite septic systems in areas just outside the beltway road system around Washington, D.C. But without proper maintenance, these systems can malfunction, potentially causing environmental and public health problems, and lowering property values. When a septic system fails, raw wastewater can pond on individual properties, exposing children, adults and pets to life-threatening pathogens, according to the NSFC. This situation, combined with the fact that many thousands of homes in rural America do not possess any available means of sewage treatment, results in raw sewage from individual homes running into drainage ditches, drinking-water wells, and local streams, lakes and rivers. In coastal areas, untreated wastewater destroys fisheries and contaminates recreational areas. Alternative onsite wastewater systems, which deal with failures of septic tanks, are important because problems with septic tanks are not just going to dry up and fly away. The EPA says public health and environmental protection officials now acknowledge that onsite systems are not just temporary installations that will be replaced eventually by centralized sewage treatment services, but they are permanent approaches to treating wastewater for release and reuse in the environment. Recognition of the impacts of onsite systems on ground-water and surface-water quality (e.g., nitrate and bacteria contamination, nutrient inputs to surface waters) has increased interest in optimizing the systems' performances, the EPA states. Onsite wastewater treatment systems collect, treat and release about 4 billion gallons of treated effluent per day from an estimated 26 million homes, businesses and recreational facilities nationwide, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. These systems, defined by the EPA as those serving fewer than 20 people, include treatment units for both individual buildings and small clusters of buildings connected to a common treatment system. In homes with these systems, a lot depends on the individual homeowner. Unlike municipal sewer systems, where a local government agency oversees the treatment, the homeowner or a small group of homeowners must manage septic systems. Neglect of this maintenance can lead to a bad situation and big bills to fix the problem, in addition to potential public health problems. Although some onsite wastewater management programs have functioned successfully in the past, problems persist, the EPA indicates. Most current state and local onsite regulatory programs focus on permitting and installation. Few programs address onsite system operations and maintenance. This can result in failures that lead to unnecessary costs and public health risks. Using onsite wastewater treatment systems can affect new construction as well as existing houses. These systems allow homes to be constructed on otherwise unused infill lots in neighborhoods with central wastewater systems that are already beyond their capacity. With an eye toward the affect on new construction and remodeling, the National Association of Home Builders Research Center is working with Anne Arundel County in Maryland. They are trying to find the best and most cost-effective aerobic treatment system to improve the performance of standard septic tanks. Monitoring and evaluation will focus on the aerobic systems that Rich Piluk, of the Anne Arundel County Health Department, has been testing. These systems consist of an aerobic retrofit of conventional concrete septic tanks. Plastic media is used for microbial growth in the aerobic chamber. The second chamber is aerated with an air-injection device. The systems, which are completely underground, appear to be a cost-effective method for modifying septic-tank systems, according to the NAHB Research Center. Aerobic tanks, which are not accepted by all local governments, can cost two to three times a standard septic tank, although this varies based on design, location, size, installation and maintenance requirements. The Research Center says savings can be realized if the drainfield is reduced or eliminated, or if its life is prolonged. For further information, contact the ToolBase hotline, a technical information service of the Research Center, funded by private industry and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development through the Partnership for Advancing Technology in Housing. Call 800-898-2842 or visit www.toolbase.org. Aerobic tanks are one alternative on a short list of acceptable methods mentioned by the NSFC. But Ed Winant, an engineer with the organization, says the first alternative is a shallow trench 6 to 12 inches deep. He says this arrangement is not much different than the more common 3-foot trench to go with a septic tank in ground that will allow that much digging. The difference is that any backed-up effluent is closer to the surface. He says there are no more costs than with a drainfield with a septic tank. "But you may not get as much reliability" with the shallow trench. A second alternative is a low-pressure pipe (LPP). LPP systems are composed of a septic tank or aerobic unit, a dosing chamber and small-diameter distribution piping with small perforations. Partially clarified effluent is forced through the pipes at specific pumping sequences (unusually one to two times a day). This timing allows breaks between doses for the soil to aerate (or rest) and absorb the wastewater. In this system, the tank can cost about $400 to $600 and the pump about $200, according to Winant. The electrical cost for running the pump could be $2 to $3 a month. Also, he says the system needs servicing on a yearly basis at a cost of about $1,000. A third alternative is a mound system, which is often put on sites where there is a slope up to 25 percent - but not in flood plains, drainage ways or depressions, unless flood protection is provided. The mound is a raised drainfield composed of sandfill on top of a gravel-filled bed and a network of small-diameter pipes. Wastewater is pretreated in a septic tank and then fed by gravity to a pump chamber, where the effluent is dosed to the mound. The mound design overcomes site restrictions, such as slowly permeable soil, shallow permeable soil over creviced or porous bedrock, and permeable soil with high water tables. A key factor for this system is the cost, at about $10,000. The other problem is many people complain that the mound is ugly even if it is landscaped, according to Winant. A fourth alternative is an aerobic treatment unit (ATU), which Winant says can cost between $4,000 and $6,000. An ATU is a mechanical system that treats wastewater using natural processes that require oxygen. The system consists of a pretreatment step, an aeration compartment and a final settling chamber prior to discharge from the unit. ATUs normally provide better treatment of wastewater than septic tanks, Winant indicates. But they are subject to upsets under sudden heavy loads, if flow into the system is intermittent or when the system is neglected. Winant says the problem is maintenance, because studies show that many people do not perform the necessary maintenance every six to 12 months, which can cost several hundred dollars. A fifth alternative, the evapotranspiration system, is used mostly in the U.S. Southwest. These systems, which are about 6 to 12 inches deep, use the combined effects of evaporation from soil and transpiration from plants to dispose of wastewater effluent. The effluent flows from the pretreatment unit to a sand bed underlaid with an impermeable liner. Vegetation above the sand bed wicks up the moisture through their roots, eventually transpirating the excess through their leaves. Moisture that migrates to the soil surface evaporates into the atmosphere. A longer list of alternatives goes beyond these common techniques. The NSFC has a poster with 23 alternative systems, and Winant says the five systems mentioned in here are the most common and effective technologies. But different conditions on a local site may require one of the other systems. So the NSFC (www.nesc.wvu.edu) helps communities and individuals find the most suitable means of collecting, treating and disposing of wastewater for their locale. As a nonprofit organization, the NSFC says it provides objective information about onsite wastewater collection and treatment systems for communities of less than 10,000 people. Winant says the NSFC is the only national resource of its type dealing with small-community wastewater infrastructure. Further information is included in the updated EPA edition of its Onsite Wastewater Treatment Systems Manual, which has extensive information about various technologies. Rod Frederick, one of the authors of the manual, says, "I would not pick any particular system, because all the systems mentioned in the manual are valid in certain situations." You can order a free copy by sending a request to: USEPA/NSCEP, P.O. Box 42419, Cincinnati, OH 45242-9198, or call 800-490-9198 and indicate public EPA/625/R-00/008, February 2002. A Minnesota official agreed with Winant that individual state or regional perspectives and conditions can be different. For instance, Ken Olson of the Onsite Sewage Treatment Program at the University of Minnesota Extension Service (http://septic.coafes.umn.edu) says people in his state do not think of the mound system as an alternative "because we have been using it for so long. That is just one thing I would caution people about - to show the differences in sites all over the country." Olson says one key point to remember is that all onsite systems are pretty much soil-based systems, and there are thousands of different soils across the country. Climate is also a major issue, with arid areas in the Southwest requiring different types of systems than those in parts of the country with more rainfall, or in places like Minnesota, where the ground is frozen half the year. He adds, "I would not pretend to tell people in Georgia how to solve their sewage disposal problems. People must depend on qualified professionals who know how to deal with local conditions." He added that those conditions include different sewage treatment standards in different states. The one common factor for all types of systems in all parts of the country, Olson emphasizes, is maintenance. Septic systems, when properly designed, installed, operated and maintained, provide effective treatment of household sewage. "Unfortunately, because the septic system is buried "out of sight' in the backyard, it often becomes "out of mind.' Would you buy a car, then never change the oil until the engine starts knocking or seizes up? Of course not. So why would you buy a septic system for $3,000 to $10,000 and then never take care of it?" Dan McLeister is a freelance writer based in Carol Stream, Ill.
Philadelphia Flower Show 2018
Dates: 3/4/2018 – 3/11/2018
Pennsylvania Convention Center Philadelphia
1101 Arch Street
The Philadelphia Flower Show, internationally recognized as one of the nation's premiere events as well as the oldest and largest indoor show of its kind, is produced by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society. PHS has more than 15,000 members throughout the country, offers hundreds of educational programs year-round, and is considered the nationâ�TMs leading authority on urban renewal through greening. PHS's acclaimed Philadelphia Green program restores neighborhood parks, creates community gardens, conducts large scale tree plantings, revitalizes vacant land, engages thousands of citizens in community development activities and maintains treasured public landscapes. Its greening efforts are modeled in many cities across the country.Not sure if you want to exhibit at or attend the Philadelphia Flower Show 2018? See the panels below to get the information you need to make an informed decision.All information in Events In America is deemed to be accurate at the time we add it,and we take steps to verify all details and update our records when new information is provided, but as people, events and circumstances change, we caution users to independently confirm all information. EventsInAmerica.com and Events In America LLC make no guarantee of accuracy and assume no liability for inaccurate information.