Both individual and cluster onsite wastewater treatment systems offer an approach to wastewater management that is characterized by smaller, simpler wastewater systems sized for specific areas, communities or developments.
These systems are not generally intended to serve all of the foreseeable needs of a large service area although they can be incrementally expanded as demand dictates.
By focusing on smaller areas where wastewater is treated and reused close to where the wastewater is generated, decentralized systems can provide several advantages over conventional centralized collection/treatment/discharge wastewater systems.
The benefits include:
More cost-effective due to lower capital costs.
Simple, easy-to-maintain technologies with lower operations and maintenance requirements and lower energy components.
Can be designed for a variety of site, size and soil conditions (e.g., shallow water tables).
Can provide enhanced opportunities for wastewater reuse due to the proximity of the treatment systems to the areas where the wastewater is produced thus eliminating the need to transport raw wastewater or treated reuse water long distances.
Provide greater opportunity for "green development," such as conservation subdivisions, cluster/village development, preservation of green space and land-use planning.
The key to being able to achieve these benefits of onsite wastewater systems is proper management – including planning, design, construction, operation and maintenance, and adequate user fees to provide financial stability for the system.
Tom Smith is the former director of operations and marketing at Anua. Tom is driving demand for wastewater treatment, water reuse, rainwater harvesting and odor/VOC control solutions. He has a B.A. from Duke University and an MBA from the Fuqua School of Business.