Frequently Asked Questions About Conventional Systems vs. Alternative Treatment Systems

1. When should an alternative treatment unit be installed instead of a conventional one?
2. How does an alternative treatment unit improve treatment to protect water quality?
3. What kind of site constraints can be overcome with an alternative treatment?
4. How long do alternative treatment units last?
5: How do alternative systems compare with conventional systems in terms of cost?
6: How do alternative systems compare with conventional systems in terms of operation & maintenance?

 

 

Q1: When should an alternative treatment unit be installed instead of a conventional one?

When enhanced treatment is desired, either greater nutrient or pathogen reduction. Also when a site cannot accommodate a conventional technology or if in new construction you want to avoid fill or retaining wall costs, or extensive mounding.

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Q2: How does an alternative treatment unit improve water quality?

By putting the effluent through either aerobic or a combination of aerobic and anaerobic treatment before effluent is released to the leaching bed, or by using existing upper-level soil to encourage additional treatment through a shallow, narrow trench design.

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Q3: What kind of site constraints can be overcome with an alternative treatment unit?
Sloping sites, high groundwater, fast or slow percolating soils, proximity to wetland or other resource area.

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Q4: How long do alternative treatment units last?

When properly engineered, installed, and maintained, the overall system (i.e. tank and treatment zone) should last indefinitely. Individual components such as pumps, electrical components, and filter media may require eventual replacement.

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Q5: How do alternative systems compare with conventional systems in terms of cost?

Generally speaking, alternative systems will be more costly than conventional stone and pipe systems, especially in aggregate rich areas of the province. However, alternative systems become more economically attractive in areas with a high ground water table or unsuitable soils, especially if gravel and sand are difficult to obtain. Large filled based conventional systems can cost as much, if not more than alternative treatment systems in areas of the province where sand and gravel are not readily available.

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Q6: How do alternative systems compare with conventional systems in terms of operation & maintenance?

Alternative systems will require more attention and care from the property owner. Property owners with an alternative treatment system must by law have a maintenance contract with an authorized representative of the manufacturer of the treatment technology. If the home is sold, the maintenance contract must be picked up by the new owner. In addition, owners of these types of systems will be required to submit test results (the cost of this may be included in the maintenance contract with the manufacturer). All alternative technologies will require regular tank maintenance, and some will require additional maintenance items, such as the Ecoflo Biofilter, which requires that the peat be removed and replaced after a certain period of time.

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