There are more small distilleries that are operating outside of access to municipal wastewater treatment plants and questions are arising as to the characteristics of wastewater from tasting rooms. In typical tasting rooms there is distilled alcohol that is not consumed, and wastewater from bathrooms. If the tasting room involves a kitchen that would also be adding to the load. 

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The virus was first detected in mid-July, with levels rising steadily since — but whether the data can be used to predict future case surges is an evolving question.

An ongoing program in San Diego that monitors wastewater for the presence of SARS-CoV-2, and which has effectively predicted subsequent surges in COVID-19 cases, has been expanded to detect the presence of monkeypox.

Since the first confirmed case of monkeypox in California in late-May, reported cases have steadily risen in the state and across the country, now up to almost 100 in San Diego County and more than 1,300 in California.

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Reverse osmosis (RO) has become a common method for the treatment of household water supplies. It can potentially impact septic systems so onsite professionals should be evaluating the presence of RO as part of design, installation and management. 

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As climate change intensifies, septic failures are emerging as a vexing issue for local governments. For decades, flushing a toilet and making wastewater disappear was a convenience that didn’t warrant a second thought. No longer. From Miami to Minnesota, septic systems are failing, posing threats to clean water, ecosystems and public health.

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CDC’s rapidly-expanding National Wastewater Surveillance System will provide invaluable data — not only for the COVID-19 pandemic, but for countless future diseases. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently announced that it is adding wastewater data to its COVID Data Tracker platform and is massively expanding its wastewater surveillance.

Since its launch in Sept. 2020, CDC’s National Wastewater Surveillance System (NEWS) has collected over 24,000 samples representing 53 million Americans. With its new addition to CDC’s COVID Data Tracker, visitors will be able to track the virus levels in an area’s wastewater over the previous 15 days.

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Topography and landscape position are the first things seen when the site is visited. In the broadest sense, topography describes the physical features of the land surface, including relative elevations and the aspect of the surface. Landscape position describes the location of the site relative to the location on a slope.

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Consistence describes how easy it is to deform or break up the soil. Consistence is used to determine if the soil contains clay that swells greatly when wet or shrinks greatly when dry (also known as shrink-swell clay). If enough shrink-swell clay is present in the soil, the soil pores swell shut when the soil gets wet. If the pores are closed, the amount of wastewater the soil can accept is near zero. If the water cannot be accepted, it also cannot be properly treated. Installers can also use this information to estimate how susceptible the soil is to smearing or puddling. 

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Soil color is often used to determine seasonal high water table (SHWT) for system design. The soil treatment area bottom (or infiltrative surface) must be kept a certain distance above the SHWT according to code.

The most common way to determine the SHWT is to look for the first occurrence of gray colored (low chroma) redox depletions or mottles. Some codes may use the first occurrence (or a specified percentage) of red (high chroma) redox concentrations or mottles as well as the gray colors. It is important to know what methods are specified in the code in the area one works.  Furthermore, if the entire soil is gray it is likely that soil is saturated for long periods of time throughout the year.

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Sometimes you take for granted that everyone working in the industry knows why our systems are so important to the environment and human health. During the last few months, we have had some questions about what is in wastewater and why it is a problem. This is where we start our basic sewage treatment workshops. We thought it would be helpful to go back to the beginning and discuss pollutants and potential problems. We will follow up these discussions over coming months looking at some specific ways to address the concerns.

Professionally designed, sited and installed conventional onsite sewage treatment systems effectively reduce or eliminate most human health and environmental hazards. This is accomplished through physical, chemical and biological processes in the septic tank, in the biomat and in the unsaturated soil zone beneath operating soil treatment trenches. 

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All across the country, people interested in water quality have been talking about nitrogen, where it’s coming from and how to control it. But there is another nutrient just as important but less often in the spotlight, and now it’s due for attention.

“Phosphorus has been one of those issues kind of sidelined by nitrogen,” says Brian Baumgaertel, director of the Massachusetts Alternative Septic System Test Center. “There aren’t a whole lot of technologies looking to remove phosphorus.” 

On Cape Cod, where the center operates as a division of the Barnstable County Health Department, phosphorus is a problem along with nitrogen. “A lot of our ponds have some increased eutrophication issues in the last five to 10 years,” he says. 

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