Last updated April 26, 2019

Wastewater treatment is a service that we all rely on. Yet in Western Canada, where much of our population is located in rural communities, the direct connections to sewage lines so common in large cities are not necessarily present.

Septic tanks are a common solution to this challenge, yet bear their own unique considerations in the form of septage waste.

This concentrated remnant of septic processes is often difficult to process, and requires specialized receiving techniques at treatment plants to ensure proper hauling, treatment, and disposal.

With the large rural population of Western Canada, combined with the large volume and varying content of agricultural and industrial waste, it is little surprise that many treatment plants and municipalities are looking to upgrade or refine their current septage receiving capacities.

Fortunately, as the needs of communities grow, so too does the sophistication of septage receiving practices and septage receiving stations.

Emptying septic tanks and transporting the material to waste treatment sites is only the first stage of the septage receiving process.

Emptying a septic truck

Even septage of domestic origin presents challenges in the form of dense composition, proper handling procedures, and ensuring the protection of nearby water sources.

Industrial septage, which may contain fats, oils, and grease (FOG), heavy metals or toxic compounds, requires even more stringent procedures, not only to protect against environmental concerns but also to avoid disrupting or damaging treatment plant processes.

Screening procedures are in place to filter out and compact debris such as rocks, rags, and other solids. Grinders and rock traps serve to remove larger objects which would otherwise block screens and filtering equipment downstream.

Augers can then be used to remove solid material, while allowing liquid waste to filter on to the treatment facility proper.

The mechanics of septage receiving at the station itself, however, are only part of the overall process.

The mechanics of septage receiving station

Even once potentially disruptive solids are removed, the chemical composition of liquid waste can still pose a hazard to treatment facilities, equipment, and processes.

Without appropriately securing access to the system, identification of the source of contamination is nearly impossible.

As septage content can vary greatly depending on its source, potentially carrying levels of chemicals dangerous or damaging to plant operations, safety and security of receiving stations is a primary concern for many municipalities.

Excessively acidic waste or toxic content can result in increased maintenance costs or run the risk of breaking regulations for treatable waste.

Treatment plants may not be equipped for septage receiving or to handle particularly high concentrations of such chemicals, and need to protect their systems against receiving such loads.

Access to the site can be dangerous as well, and measures are often taken to restrict access to those without proper training and to avoid illicit dumping.

These concerns are able to be addressed with the installation of a modern septage receiving station, which can improve security, provide accountability, reduce administrative costs, and ensure disposal regulations are adhered to.

Perhaps the most traditional, and effective, method of ensuring the security of a septage receiving station is by regulating physical access to the system.

This is accomplished at many septage receiving stations through use of a card reader, which requires a hauler to swipe their access card to unlock the station or receiving panel.

This septage receiving station uses a card reader

Other forms of authentication include keypads which require a hauler to securely log in before transferring their load.

Depending on the supplier, this ensures unique identification of a given hauler, records of volume of septage being disposed, identification of waste classes, and identification of waste generators, allowing a hauler’s access to be tracked individually and monitored over time.

While protecting against illicit transfers or unauthorized personnel certainly improves security of the station and treatment facility, it is also imperative to ensure the safety of haulers using the system.

Quick connect systems that securely lock septage hauler hoses to the system reduce the risk of hazardous spills, and are a feature of almost every station.

Septage hauler hose is securely locked with our system

Operating in Western Canada requires special consideration during the winter months to protect against freezing, and designated transfer areas can be designed to feature hard surface containment areas, hose reel wash down systems, heated pads, lines, or enclosures to ensure safe operation throughout exposure to low temperatures.

While traditional septage receiving station design requires haulers to complete paper manifests for later submittal, there is a growing trend toward automated systems which allow greater accuracy and reduce administration costs.

As such, advanced secure access systems also allow the hauler to generate an automated manifest.

Not only do these systems allow more convenient operation of the system for the hauler, but ensure that monitoring regulations are correctly adhered to.

Generation of manifests is often accomplished by having the hauler enter the source of their load, and utilize flow measurement devices to record the precise volume received.

Automating this process frees up personnel that might otherwise be located at the septage receiving station, and provides precise records that allow municipalities to increase revenue by utilizing this thorough data for billing purposes.

Flowpoint system is in place to protect wastewater treatment plants and haulers

This information also allows them to bill accordingly based on whether the waste is of domestic or industrial origin.

Monitoring the source and volume of septage loads, while a necessary first step to ensuring protection of equipment and operations, can only accomplish so much without verification its accuracy.

Samplers may be included at septage receiving stations to allow periodic analysis of a hauler’s transfers.

Should the hauler’s information on the content of their load not match that of the sample, their access can be discontinued until the discrepancy is investigated.

Automated samplers typically allow random sampling, but in some systems can be configured to single out haulers that have had discrepancies in the past for more frequent sampling.

Installation of advanced equipment such as pH monitoring equipment can also allow for immediate analysis of septage characteristics, which can in turn cause the station to refuse a transaction should a load exceed safe values.

These measures ensure the accuracy of haulers submitted manifests, as well as providing detailed characteristic data for consideration by the treatment facility.

These sophisticated septage receiving practices not only work to ensure the safety of personnel and equipment, but adherence to regulations in place to protect the treatment plants and haulers, as well as the communities in which they operate.

Flowpoint's water dispensing stations

It has been Flowpoint Environmental Systems’ (formerly Municipal Solutions) pleasure to provide and develop installations to meet the needs of Western Canada’s communities for 15 years,and we look forward to continuing this tradition in years to come.

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