Innovative Technology Breaks Down Sludge and Removes Odors at RV Campsite Septic System
By Klaus Voss and John Norton, Ph.D.
Located in Gloucester, VA, Thousand Trails Chesapeake Bay is an RV campsite and outdoor preserve with over 350 full-hookup sites and 25 rental cabins. The site also houses recreational and public facilities, such as lodges, a swimming pool, public restrooms and a dumping station for RV sewage.
RV sewer sites, cabins and public facilities throughout the property discharge to lift stations that pump to one of two separate septic tank/leachfield systems. Four locations were selected for the trial of a new biocatalyst technology that speeds up biochemical reactions significantly faster than unaided processes or current technologies. The technology has been proven as an effective wastewater treatment solution overseas, including Australia, Asia and Europe, and the trial aimed to validate these results in the United States. The park was closed throughout the trial—only a few sites were occupied by employees and seasonal occupants.
The E Section septic tank/leachfield system receives most of this low-flow volume. In addition, there is a low daily inflow to the only open public restroom, located in Section B. A lift station in Section D that discharges to the E Section tanks was selected for trial due to a consistent problem with odor. The septic tank details are shown in Table 1.
Prior to the trial, strong septic odors in the immediate vicinity of D Section lift station were observed. In addition, visible floating sludge in E Section sludge tank and B Section bathroom tank was noticed. The first author approached the campsite owner and operator with a proposal to validate the effectiveness of the biocatalyst in reducing odors within the site, as well as reducing the strength of effluent in the septic tanks.
The biocatalyst combines proprietary enzymes, cofactors and nutrients to significantly enhance degradation rates for organic wastes. This leads to superior reductions in odor, volatile organic compounds (VOC), biological oxygen demand (BOD), chemical oxygen demand (COD), and overall solid waste. Delivered in active microbial form, the technology accelerates the breakdown of organic wastes and odorous emissions into harmless and odorless compounds, such as carbon dioxide, nitrogen gas and water. It is 100-percent natural, non-toxic and safe for everyday use in a very diverse range of consumer and industrial products. It’s proven capabilities help solve problems in environmental waste management (including wastewater, solid waste, soil and water remediation, industrial emissions), cropping, animal agriculture and aquaculture.
Objectives of the study
Two primary objectives were developed for this site:
- To reduce solids, BOD and nitrates in the septic/leachfield systems
- To reduce odor at the D Section lift station In order to characterize the cause of the odors, pretreated samples were collected at the effluent section of the E Section tank and analyzed in the laboratory. The results of the analysis (all values in mg/L except turbidity, which is measured in NTU) are presented in Table 2.
Delivered in freeze-dried powder, the biocatalyst was mixed with water for reactivation. Each dose was pre-batched mixed with water for reactivation. Each dose was pre-batched in five-gallon (18.9-liter) buckets at a concentration of one 100 g bag per bucket (see Table 3). The buckets were filled with water and incubated indoors above 50°F (10°C) overnight (uncovered). The pre-batched doses were applied to the E Section tank and the D Section lift station directly into the tanks through lids. The B Section bathhouse tank dose was applied through the toilet. The doses applied to the E Section tank were done in two batches on consecutive days, due to the high pre-mix volume (see Table 4).
After only 34 days, Maintenance Supervisor Hugh Keith reported a significant breakup of the fatty sludge in the E Section sludge tank. He also reported that the odor at the D Section lift station was nearly eliminated. Analytical results for post- treatment samples (see Figure 1), collected on day 34 at the E Section effluent tank (all values in mg/L except for turbidity, which is in NTU) showed these outcomes.
By accelerating the digestion of waste through an enhanced enzymatic process, the new technology reduced the volume of activated sludge required to treat a constant loading. As a result, the equilibrium sludge concentration was reduced, and less sludge buildup should occur over the long term. In addition, by altering the speciation of enzymes within the system, the odor was reduced. Odor reduction was achieved both by altering the biotransformation pathways and by enabling the co-metabolism of odorous chemical compounds. In layman’s terms, less odor was created in the first place, and the odor that was created was then eaten by the bugs. The entire result was achieved without any capital investment or other alteration of the property’s existing infrastructure.
Anticipated long-term outcomes
It is anticipated that continued monthly dosing of the septic tanks would break up solids at the top and bottom of the liquids in each tank to control odor and minimize the need to pump sludge from the tanks. Odor in the D Section lift station can be controlled with consistent dosing applied as needed and in accordance with daily flow, with more frequent applications during heavy use periods. These expected outcomes present significant cost savings of potentially thousands of dollars a month for campsite owners, which includes cost of sludge pumpouts, odor-masking agents and leachfield remediation services. In addition, the reduction of nutrient levels in treated wastewater provides a significant environmental benefit as the campsite is located in Chesapeake Bay Basin catchment area.
About the authors
Klaus W. Voss is Director and COO of BiOWiSH Technologies. He is also a current Director of RightSize, LLC (a real estate exchange company) and former Executive Chairman of OpenCEL, LLC (a cell lysing technology company). He has been an active investor, director and founder of several biotechnology and clean technology start-ups in Chicago, IL, and prior to joining BiOWiSH Technologies, served as CEO and Founding Partner of the SI Group (a utility and environmental consulting firm). Voss earned an MPA from Illinois Institute of Technology and a BS Degree from Long Island University. He was a finalist in the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year and the Chicago Innovation Awards.
Dr. John Norton, Senior Executive VP of Global Wastewater, is an Editor for IWA Journal of Water and Climate Change, has authored more than 45 papers and reports focusing on the financial and technical assess- ment of urban water systems, efficiency/benchmarking assessment and alternative waste and potable water technologies. He holds a Ph.D. in civil and environmental engineering and a postdoctoral fellowship from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Prior to earning his Ph.D., Norton earned MSE Degrees in geotechnical engineering and industrial and operations engineering from the same university. He earned his Master’s Degree in environmental engineering and a Bachelor’s Degree in civil and
About the company and product
BiOWiSH Technologies owns exclusive and global intellectual property rights to the development, manufacturing, sales, marketing and distribution of BiOWiSH™. Based in Chicago, IL the company has international offices in Sydney, Australia and Bangkok, Thailand. The result of over 18 years of research and development, BiOWiSH is a powerful biocatalyst that combines a proprietary blend of enzymes, cofactors and nutrients to significantly enhance degradation rates for organic wastes. BiOWiSH is used extensively in Asia, Australia, Europe and now, in North America.