Advances in sewage treatment

For ecological or spatial purposes there are some sites which will best be served by a reduced footprint soil absorption area.  This requires pre-treatment of the sewage to reduce organic loading and total suspended or dissolved solids.

A variety of systems are available in Virginia to reduce the organic load, some such as the Ecopure use a peat matrix to filter and retain soluble organics so that microbes are able to consume the food sources and cleanse the effluent, other systems provide similar benefits with active treatment. Such as the EZ Treat a recirculating trickling filter in the mode of a sand filter. Others are hybrids using aeration blowers for example the FAST system creates an environment for high strength wastes to be consumed, which is better suited to commercial source loads. Advantex provides a suspended matrix dosed via pumps and controls to distribute the waste constituents across a fabric media for aeration and biological growth and has the advantage for isolated installations or high risk environments due to telemetry which is able to report problems to an offsite operator.

Operating costs are a factor to consider, whether replacing components or pumping and hauling of residual solids each system including “conventional”  require maintenance, which must be contracted with an approved service provider.

It is the designers role to advise the owner on cost and attributes of these systems. Many of these systems require electricity, and may require adjustments, occasionally you will get a plume of moist air which can be odoriferous,
A constructed wetland (CW) may be competitive in cost, and if well thought out (read designed & sited) will have a positive impact. Picture green foliage and bright seasonal flowers, gentle berms, perhaps a low fence to keep out kids or domestic animals; minimal maintenance which I believe is similar to gardening i.e. mow annually, check weirs, sample once a year for an interim period.

The wetland does it’s work silently, there is a short anaerobic zone which will be in dynamic equilibrium wit

CW at startup

h the aerobic margins, tis is the root zone, and the PE’s job crosses with the naturalists in picking wetland vegetation.

These include flowering plants, refer to the text Wastewater Treatment in Constructed Wetlands with Horizontal Sub-Surface Flow.


This is an exciting and well understood technology in Europe, and I would hope that your incorporation in a residential cluster will prove the concept and lead to it’s incorporation in later phases.Under the Department of Health Regulations a constructed wetland must be designed and installed under the supervision of a Professional Engineer (PE).

There are several permitted CW’s in Pulaski, one in McCoy, Bedford; at least one in Floyd, and another intended for multi family use. There are quite a few larger CWs, including systems that were constructed to serve trailer parks and small communities.

I’m sure that seeing will be believing, and it is in your interest to consider this technology; I would be pleased to advise you about the utility of a CW for your project.


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