Waste water treatment

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Waste water treatment

Postby bpratt » Wed Oct 02, 2013 4:27 pm

Looking at building a new house, and was looking at the options for waste water treatment, particulary with interest to eventually going offgrid, something that doesn't use much electricity.


I've seen a couple of options, such as the worm farm septic and the advanced enviro-septic, as well as the more regular HSTP system.

Here's a couple of links that I've been looking at :-

http://www.enviro-septic.com.au

http://www.wormfarm.com.au

I like the idea of the wormfarm ones, but the building company I'm with aren't big fans of it, mostly because they haven't dealt with them before.

The regular HSTP systems seem to have a need for electricity to operate properly, and the enviro-septic mob talk about a NZ example that claims HSTP's use up to $800 of power per annum ! ... certainly not good for when we eventually go offgrid.

As the block is on the side of a hill, the wormfarm systems use zero electricity
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Re: Waste water treatment

Postby davidg » Wed Oct 02, 2013 5:16 pm

bpratt wrote:Looking at building a new house, and was looking at the options for waste water treatment, particulary with interest to eventually going offgrid

We got approval for a boring old STD septic system :D , our second choice would have been wormfarm style one a "OnZite Wormfarm system" from down here in Vic.

There is another mob that do a worm system but they were not helpful and insisted they or one of their "certified" installers did the job, they would not even let the plumber I'm using install it. Anyway enough of them.

The OnZite main companies big claim to fame is composting toilets but they would have been a real pain to do at our farm as the site is almost completely flat for 100's of metres, anyway I understand traditional composting toilet system extremely well, so I have no issue with them as long as you treat them correctly.

e.g don't put poisons, bleach, biocides, ......cides of any type into the system it kills the system and ruins the leech field, if it's poison to you then it's poison to the a septic system, use nice soft septic tank toilet proper paper, as it will not form a hard layer in the tank, check tank to ensure it does not get over half full of "sludge" apart from these main rules, they don't care if there not used for months on end.

Treated properly a septic system can last for decades without any real problems at all and if you stick to the rules I pointed out above they do not polute the ground water.

If you have some gravity available, they will never need power, bugger all charges for maintenance or if you don't want the dip of the tank test periodically your self, it only requires checking officially once every three years.

Unlike the high maintanence high cost aerated systems that are around now that some not very smart councils want you to install.
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Re: Waste water treatment

Postby Gordon-Loomberah » Wed Oct 02, 2013 6:35 pm

If you only have rainwater, and even if you dont, it is good not to waste perfectly good drinking water by pooing in it ;) We use a Clivus Multrum for the loo, and greywater just goes to an absorption trench, gravity fed with no requirement for electricity. It waters some bamboo we situated just below the trench. The Clivus doesn't need water, other than for an occasional wash of the pedestal, and has a 3 or 4W DC fan that uses less than 0.1kWh per day. It does involve occasional manual sh1t stirring though ;)
I installed all of it myself, and the council inspector was happy with it when they checked it.
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Re: Waste water treatment

Postby offgridQLD » Wed Oct 02, 2013 7:16 pm

We have the worm farm style system. There is a small fish tank style air pump. Its not the same kind of air pump that used in the normal septic systems its tiny and only consumes about 10watts all the time . Then there is the submerged irrigation pump with a float switch. The water that is pumped out is good enough to water above the ground legally. With the tank its self there is no smell if you put your head in the take for inspection. Even though you can water above ground Our system waters underground and keeps the back lawn of about 80m long by 30m wide green and healthy all year round. Actually becomes a pain how often you need to mow it as it grows so well.All the local animals , wallaby's and so on gather at it when its a dry time of year for a green oasis.

Though I did have a wild pig try and dig up the grass and damage the dripper system he went to the big pig in the sky. I also nudged the tank with the slasher once and broke the return pipe off the tank. A rubber flange with a larger clearance hole fixed that issue.

You have to be careful what you drive over the irrigation area but my small 4wd tractor with turf tires is fine. I think there are rules how close you can build a habitable structure to the irrigation area to from memory its 2 or 3 meters.

You have to be a little carfull what you put down the drains. Particularly lots of milk or large amounts of oil and harsh chemicals, antibiotics, alcohol. We treat our system like a living thing (because it is) The worms are reasonably tolerant just like humans but why abuse them. Last inspection we had they were amazed by how clear the water was apparently some systems you could only see down 50mm ours you could see through the 500mm tube all the way so we must be doing something correct.

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Re: Waste water treatment

Postby bpratt » Thu Oct 03, 2013 9:03 am

Thanks for the replies so far.

A Clivus Multrum won't work for us.... it's gotta be a flusher dunny for us.:)

We've been on a septic tank system for over 28 years now, so we've long since worked out you don't put anything 'cide' down past the S bend, as you'll only end up in the 'poo' with the whole system. So we understand how to live with such a system, although I have to admit I did not know that you shouldn't drive vehicles over the soaking pits.

The enviro-septic system looks pretty much like a normal septic tank, but with a different style of soaking pits down the end of it.

The OnZite search took me to www.wormsmart.com.au site as an alternative to wormfarm.com.au so I might forward on their details to my builder as an alternative... i.e. so they can see others do worm farm septics.
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Re: Waste water treatment

Postby offgridQLD » Thu Oct 03, 2013 10:07 am

although I have to admit I did not know that you shouldn't drive vehicles over the soaking pits.


What I was referring to isn't just a soaking pit. It's a sub surface driper/irrigation system. Lots of plastic pipes all just under the surface. Its reasonably hardy thick pipe but just not recommended to drive a truck over it or car with skinny wheels after a lot of rain.

The worm smart system looks very similar to what we have . Though ours doesn't have the tall air ventilation pipe. Not a bad idea as the tank would help to keep the tank from becoming anaerobic .



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Re: Waste water treatment

Postby bpratt » Thu Oct 03, 2013 11:14 am

Just got an email back from the builders pretty much sticking to their guns about wormfarm systems ....

Thanks for sending through the email on the other worm farm system. One of the key issues about these systems for Sxxxxd Homes, is that we have never installed them before and we aren’t familiar with the process.

Our plumbers are licensed to install the enviro system so that is the alternative that we would install for you. We are required by the building code to have the sewerage system “commissioned” before we can get our building final’s, so to keep our processes running smoothly we are not comfortable with installing a system that our plumbers are not familiar with.


I thought it was us who was paying for the house ? :roll:

Time to contact these wormfarm people to see what's involved to getting the system commissioned.
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Re: Waste water treatment

Postby davidg » Thu Oct 03, 2013 9:41 pm

Gordon-Loomberah wrote:If you only have rainwater, and even if you dont, it is good not to waste perfectly good drinking water by pooing in it ;)

Who poos in rainwater? We don't! We use recycled grey water right now and on the farm, most likely dam water or recycled grey water 8-)

Grey water recycling system is my own design.

bpratt wrote:
Our plumbers are licensed to install the enviro system so that is the alternative that we would install for you. We are required by the building code to have the sewerage system “commissioned” before we can get our building final’s.

Yes that was the sort of thing I got, I found that you either do it yourself, get a plumber that will do it for you, or get another builder - as the other system your talking about they take a commission on. also they get to charge an annual fee for servicing it to boot.

bpratt wrote:I thought it was us who was paying for the house ? :roll:

You are. Have you signed the contract, if not take that out of the contract and specify it as separate component you will arrange to have completed accordingly.

bpratt wrote:Time to contact these wormfarm people to see what's involved to getting the system commissioned.

I liked speaking to Onzite they were very helpful when I spoke to them, unlike the other mob, I'd be interested in how you go with them, if you decide to contact them.
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Re: Waste water treatment

Postby Tracker » Fri Oct 04, 2013 1:43 pm

offgridQLD wrote:We have the worm farm style system.


Kurt - do you have any link to your system..

Sounds great...

Are there regulations that prohibit their use in the big smoke..?
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Re: Waste water treatment

Postby davidg » Fri Oct 04, 2013 2:07 pm

Tracker wrote:
offgridQLD wrote:We have the worm farm style system.

Are there regulations that prohibit their use in the big smoke..?


Contact the manfacturer they will be able to tell you where they are approved for and where they are not. Well OnZite were able to tell us anyway. It's mainly an "EPA" certification for want of a better way of putting it.

Having said that, you might in some cases find some councils will have maybe have an issue others will not, it's all in their bylaws, state legistation is an umbrella over the top of every council/shire for each state, that at some level they must comply with even if they don't like it.

You still have to have the land space for the leech field that stops it a lot for obvious reasons. Afterall once treated then you have to get it to soak into the ground, and thats not always as easy as some people think, the soak rate varies wildy from one place are to another, so it has to be factored in, typical a civil engineer does this for you, and trump the council "enviromental" person , thats how we got our STD "septic" tank, the council person would have wanted one of those power hungry systems, a major problem for off-grid, It was well worth the few hundred dollars it cost for the local civil engineer to do a proper assessment. :) council had no leg to stand on with that report.
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