Wastewater is no laughing matter. Especially when there’s too much of it. During storms and times of heavy runoff, partially or untreated sewage can flow into ditches, streams, rivers and lakes. Which isn’t too pretty if you’re a fish or somebody who drinks water. The solution to this disgusting mess has been framed as an expensive one, “Communities will need hundreds of billions of dollars in coming years to construct and upgrade wastewater infrastructure,” according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office.
But the folks who make “Poo-Gloos,” also known as Bio-Domes, say their product can clean up sewage for less money than mechanical plants. And they have a study that backs it up.
The study was done by Wastewater Compliance Systems Inc., the Utah company that sells the devices, so you might want to take it with a grain of salt (or fecal matter).
The study results show that it’s possible to save communities with existing lagoon systems hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars, according Fred Jaeger, CEO of Wastewater Compliance Systems Inc (WCS). The company’s chief technology officer, Kraig Johnston, plans to present the study during the Water Environment Federation’s Impaired Water Symposium in Miami.
Here’s the deal: Smaller communities rely on wastewater lagoons for treatment. But as these communities grow and treatment standards rise, these lagoons need to upgraded. Typically, the upgrades are to mechanical plants, which can cost tens of millions of dollars, and put a community in hock for decades to come.
The Poo-Gloo was developed by Johnson and a research team when he worked at the University of Utah, and is designed specifically for communities who have outgrown their sewage lagoons.
“The device provides a large surface area on which bacteria can grow, providing the microbes with air and a dark environment so they consume wastewater pollutants continuously with minimal competition from algae,” according to WCS officials. The Gloos are installed at the bottom of lagoons, and each takes up about 28 square feet of space.
The study details the results of a pilot project at the Central Valley Water Reclamation Facility in Salt Lake City.
“Wastewater Compliance Systems obtained an exclusive license from the University of Utah to commercialize Poo-Gloos, so the devices now have been deployed in six states in either full-scale installations or pilot demonstrations. Every installation showed Poo-Gloos provide treatment that meets pollution-control requirements,” the company says.
The bottom line, according to the study, is that Poo-Gloos can provide the same treatment as mechanical plants, at about 25 percent of the cost, and without all the chemicals and labor involved in operating a facility.
Even better, the Gloos require only a fraction of the electricity as a plant, which allows them to run “off-the-grid” on solar or wind power.
The pilot project in Salt Lake has already prompted some communities to install the Gloos, in the (well-named) Nevada town of Jackpot, and at Glacier National Park in Montana and Plain City and Wellsville in Utah.
To find out more, see the Wastewater Compliance Systems page.
— Photo Credit: Waste Compliance Systems Inc.