Waste haulers try new system

A trial run of a unit that allows septage disposal from septic systems, portable toilets and potentially even recreational vehicles was conducted at Marietta’s wastewater treatment plant Wednesday afternoon.

Local septage haulers were invited to bring their vehicles and participate in the test.

“We want to get the haulers’ opinions on how this system could be made more user-friendly for them as we consider installing a septage system as part of our current wastewater treatment plant upgrade,” said city engineer Joe Tucker.

A trailer-mounted portable “septage acceptance plant” was transported for the test from the Chicago, Ill. area to Marietta by the Lakeside Equipment Company, which manufactures the units.

A permanently-installed unit at the city wastewater plant would allow haulers to dump material from septic systems or portable toilets into tanks specially designed to filter out inorganic materials like rags, stones or other debris.

The remaining septage would then be treated with the rest of the sewage passing through the wastewater plant, according to wastewater superintendent Steve Elliott.

“This would help local septage businesses as well as the environment,” he said, noting septage haulers currently have to “land apply” or spread the waste material on area fields in order to dispose of it.

But Tucker said environmental regulations on land-application are gradually tightening, and providing septage-handling facilities at the wastewater plant would be an easier solution for the haulers.

“This is a very crude setup today,” he said of the test unit. “But our system would allow a hauler to pull his truck up to the plant and swipe a card through a meter that would show how much flow the plant is receiving.”

A nominal fee would be charged for the service to help recover operational costs, he said.

“Nobody’s going to get rich from this, but it’s a better environmentally than dumping septage on a field,” said Keith Zimmerman, regional manager for Wolf Pack Rentals, which hauls septage from regional shale oil and gas well sites.

“I think a septage system at the wastewater plant would be extremely helpful, not only for us, but for the city, too, as it generates a little income,” he said.

Dennis Haas, co-owner of Haas Septic Services in Lowell, agreed.

“This is a good opportunity for us and the city,” he said. “Right now the only option we have here is land application, which is becoming a concern for all area haulers.”

Elliott noted the cost for installation of the septage unit would be covered by the Ohio EPA as an incentive through a reduction of interest rates on the city’s loan for the wastewater plant upgrade.