School Wastewater Solution

Southside Consolidated Schools in rural Arkansas needed a wastewater solution.

Their leach field was failing and they didn’t have room for an alternate. Septic was no longer an option and they were a long way from the nearest municipal sewer main. They needed a decentralized wastewater system, but even that would be a challenge since the only land available for drip disposal was already contaminated by the failed septic leach field. They had a big problem, but Aqua Tech was able to offer this school a wastewater solution.

Click below for a heartwarming, Christmas-themed video about this project.

@aquatechsystems A rural school needed #wastewater treatment for Christmas. #santasighting #septictank #schooladministration ♬ original sound – Aqua Tech Systems

Time was against them!

The septic system failed near the end of the school year. By the time they found us and we were able to custom design and build the system, summer was almost over. Kids (and their bladders) would be coming back to test this untried system. That was a major concern since it usually takes months for any wastewater treatment plant to build a sufficient population of microorganisms to remove wastewater contaminants. And there was no margin for error since this tiny treatment system would have to discharge directly into a drainage swale on the property.

wastewater effluent discharge pipe and headworks
pressurized effluent discharge for overland disposal

Somehow this 6600-gallon-per-day system would need to treat highly contaminated school wastewater within a few weeks of the kids’ return to class. We started the system just as they were getting back in August and by mid-September, it was meeting state permit requirements. And this was with treatment media at a fraction of capacity.

The not-so-messy details

Our high-density biofilm media takes time to introduce.

Floating media for biological film wastewater treatment plant

Aqua Tech’s proprietary high-density biofilm media needs to acquire some slime to behave properly in wastewater. So, it must be introduced 10% at a time. By the time the effluent was tested in October, the operator had introduced just 30% of the total floating media. Even with such a small fraction of treatment capacity in place, the system was already meeting state standards!

Imagine how well this system will treat at 100%! We’re really proud to sell technology that accommodates human needs while protecting the environment.

Southside needed a wastewater operator for their system.

Not only did Aqua Tech provide the construction and start-up support to ensure the system operates correctly, but we also helped to train a school maintenance employee to operate it for the long haul. We can do that because we’re an operations and maintenance company ourselves. Dylan is doing a GREAT job!

wastewater effluent in a clear bottle to show treatment level
Actual effluent treated with only 30% of the biofilm media introduced!

This school wastewater solution required next-level engineering.

School wastewater isn’t the same as residential. It’s not diluted by shower or laundry influent. Also, most kids prefer not to poop at school, so it’s short the gut bacteria and digested solids that wastewater engineers normally count on to help treat the influent. What it does contain is a lot of pee and greasy cafeteria waste. In other words, it’s very contaminated and concentrated. Aqua Tech took these factors into account and we were still able to treat 6600 gallons per day to municipal standards within a tiny metal box.

wastewater treatment tank with integrated controls
So, so small!

Our treatment technology ensures that those hardworking microbes can proliferate enough to carry on sufficient nitrification and denitrification to protect the surrounding watershed from eutrophication. Normally, water discharge of wastewater effluent requires sanitizing as a final step, but this system treats well enough to do without, given the school’s distance from any major waterway.

wastewater treatment tank open to reveal compartments and hoses

Check out the gallery below for shots of the install.