Suffolk County Approves Innovative Wastewater Disposal Systems for Commercial and Multi-residence Projects
Health Department to evaluate 21st century technologies that that will make sewage disposal more efficient and more cost-effective for single-family residences
The Suffolk County Department of Health Services announced today that it has approved two new wastewater treatment systems for use in Suffolk County, a move that will expand the range of tools to protect environmental health while supporting smart growth and economic development.
The systems, Nitrex, manufactured by Lombardo Associates of Massachusetts, and BESST (Biological Engineered Single Sludge Treatment), manufactured by Purestream of Kentucky, are approved for use in small “package” wastewater treatment plants that typically handle flows in the range of 1,000 to 15,000 gallons of wastewater per day, or the equivalent of three to 50 full-sized single-family residences. Previously, the only option in this flow range was the Cromaglass system, manufactured by the Cromaglass Corporation of Williamsport, Pennsylvania.
In studying 13 individual and 11 small community technologies systems, health officials have found that the two newly approved systems have produced excellent results; typically well below the New York State standard of 10 milligrams of nitrogen per liter of wastewater discharge. Other systems may be approved for use once the study is completed in March 2012.
The new systems can be used for a variety of commercial and multi-residence projects. The study, financed with Suffolk County capital funds, includes an assessment of operation and maintenance issues, as well as a cost-benefit analysis. The results will support an evaluation of whether any of these systems are appropriate for single-family residences, which typically handle up to 300 gallons per day.
“Approval of these new disposal systems enhances our water quality while simultaneously promoting economic growth,” said Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy. “By expanding the list of qualified wastewater systems, we can inject competition into the market that will lower costs for consumers and ensure water protection.”
The small BESST system is a scaled-down modification of a full-scale sewage treatment plant technology. The first application for this technology has just been approved, and should be in operation by spring of 2012. The first small BESST system will be located at Country View Estates in Holbrook, a 58-unit condominium complex, 12 of which are retirement units.
The Nitrex system, which was installed at Scully Estate County Park and evaluated as part of the county’s study, is now available for use on other commercial projects. Health officials have completed sampling of this system and the results have been exceptional, commonly reducing nitrogen to the range of two to three milligrams per liter of wastewater discharge.
“We feel confident that we can recommend these systems having conducted the proper studies,” said Dr. James Tomarken, Commissioner of Health Services. “Our goal is to find the most cost-effective approach that will minimize the adverse impacts of nitrogen from wastewater disposal systems on coastal waters.”
Water quality protection and enhancement have been key concerns of the Levy administration, which has laid the groundwork for future progress. In 2012, using monies from the one-quarter percent sales-tax funded Water Quality Protection and Restoration Program (WQPRP), the county will be embarking on an evaluation of yet additional innovative/alternative technologies. Unlike the prior study, which was limited to highly engineered systems that can consistently attain the standard of 10 milligrams of nitrogen per liter of discharge, this follow-up investigation will evaluate technologies that may remove nitrogen more cost-effectively for single-family residences, to a level of 25 milligrams of nitrogen per liter. The study will also evaluate the impacts of various management scenarios on groundwater and surface waters for all major estuary systems, as well as for selected small-scale sub-regions.
The county’s wastewater studies are an outgrowth of recommendations from the Peconic Estuary Program. They also implement recommendations of the county’s draft Comprehensive Water Resources Management Plan of 2011, which found that pollution control and management programs have generally been effective in protecting public water supplies, but that significant additional nitrogen reductions were necessary to protect coastal waters.