• Septic waste crisis: A looming nationwide concern?

Water/Wastewater

Septic waste crisis: A looming nationwide concern?

Mar 25 2024

The persistent struggle in Cornwall to manage septic waste could be an indicator of challenges to come across the UK, warns a prominent equipment manufacturer.

As heavy rainfall prolongs, South West Water has resorted to redirecting septage tankers away from its treatment facilities. Consequently, residents find themselves unable to flush toilets due to full septic tanks.

Craig Webb of SAVECO, a provider of rapid septage processing systems, voiced concerns: "While I appreciate the Environment Agency's stance on urging disposal companies to invest in storage and treatment facilities, water companies must step up too."

Webb highlighted Pellows, Cornwall's longstanding liquid waste disposal contractor, and their recent investment in SAVECO's cutting-edge solution, dubbed 'The Beast.' This innovation significantly reduces discharge time for tankers, allowing for quicker turnaround and enhanced efficiency.

"With an estimated 1.5 million domestic septic tank owners in the UK and a rapidly growing population, the challenge of inadequate facilities and recurrent storms demands attention," Webb emphasised. He advocated for the water industry to take cues from the US, investing more substantially in septage facilities. This not only offers a reliable revenue stream through charges to waste contractors but also prevents missed opportunities.

"The success of Pellows' new receiving station, which boosted throughput by over 30% with a swift payback period, underscores the viability of such investments," Webb remarked. He also stressed the importance of grit removal in enhancing septage treatment efficiency, safeguarding downstream equipment in the process.

The integration of SAVECO's 'Beast' at Pellows has proven instrumental in addressing these challenges. Featuring a fully integrated 5mm screen, conveyor, and compactor, it efficiently removes harmful debris and dewaters it before discharge. Capable of handling substantial volumes and solid concentrations, this system offers a practical solution to an increasingly pressing issue.

"Environmental wet waste poses a growing dilemma, particularly for rural establishments without access to main sewer connections," Webb continued. "As more water company facilities turn away septage tankers during heavy rainfall, the ripple effects are significant and costly." He highlighted the absurdity of hauliers traversing long distances across counties in search of accommodating facilities, exacerbating carbon footprint concerns.

The septage crisis in Cornwall serves as a wake-up call for proactive measures nationwide. Investment in advanced processing systems and infrastructure is not only economically prudent but also crucial for environmental sustainability and public health. 


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