SEWAGE TREATMENT SYSTEMS MAINTENANCE

Maintenance and servicing is a legal obligation

In this article you’ll read everything you need to know about maintenance and servicing on your wastewater treatment system: obligations, what is it, products to avoid and do & don’ts.

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WASTEWATER SYSTEMS MAINTENANCE AND SERVICING

The importance of maintenance and servicing your wastewater treatment system

Overview

Once your wastewater treatment system is installed, the work is not totally done yet!

You or your landlord are responsible for maintaining your system for several reasons. For example, not de-sludging a septic tank led to a sludge accumulation and may cause a malfunction of your system.

You may wonder what is maintenance or servicing? What do you have to do according to your sewage treatment system?

Wastewater treatment system maintenance

Book maintenance for your Tricel system

Why is maintenance important?

In Ireland, there are approximately 500,000 wastewater treatment systems and most of them are septic tanks. Lack of tank desludging and maintenance of wastewater treatment system is an issue as this poses risks to health or environment.

maintenance for wastewater treatment system

Legal obligations

Part 4 of the Water Services Act, 2007 (as amended) and associated Regulations established a system for registration, inspection and enforcement of DWWTS and placed duties on owners, water service authorities and the EPA: ‘A person who owns, has in his or her charge or otherwise has control over a waste water works shall cause it to be properly maintained’.

The property owner has therefore a legal responsibility to ensure that the system does not cause pollution, a health hazard, or a nuisance.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) made a report in 2021 which results in that: ‘more than half of domestic wastewater treatment systems inspected (433 of the 809) last year were not up to standard, with almost a quarter posing a risk to human health or the environment’ according to this article.

Therefore, the EPA introduced in the 2021 Code of Practice, an operational change by adding a de-sludging frequency recommendation (Table 12.2 on page 72). The Code of Practice (CoP) aim is to provide guidance on domestic wastewater treatment systems. You can read more about it here.

Download the manual of your Tricel system for more information about maintenance 

Have a look at the 2021 CoP

What is maintenance and servicing?

Wastewater system maintenance

NOTE: the following paragraph relates to Tricel’s wastewater treatment solutions only. If you have a system from another manufacturer, please refer to the manufacturer’s guidelines.

Part of the servicing can be directly done by yourself. You must be sure that your system is correctly installed and operating well.  You can regularly check that:

  • nothing hinders the correct operation of the system; the inlet and outlet should be checked to remove anything that would block the flow.
  • the mechanical parts (if there are any) are working properly
  • there are no smells or suspicious noises
  • etc.

However, the main part of the maintenance and servicing must be done by a professional.

Tricel offers an annual maintenance contract which is a full service every year to guarantee the efficiency of the system gets maintained. For the smooth running of the operation, service personal must get accommodated with unobstructed access to the tank.

Regarding desludging, Tricel recommends the use of a licensed company to carry out the desludging. This should be done with a vacuum tanker.

The EPA states that: ‘The Water Services Acts 2007 and 2012 (Domestic Waste Water Treatment Systems) Regulations, 2012 require that de-sludging is carried out by a contractor authorised under the Waste Management (Collection Permit) Regulations 2007 (as amended) and the contents disposed of in accordance with all relevant national legislative requirements or directions pertaining at the time.

Depending on the Tricel wastewater solution you have, the maintenance will be adapted, have a closer look:

You are not sure that your system is a Tricel one? Let’s see what our solutions look like once installed.

Products to avoid

The cleaning and household products we use daily can have a significant impact on the functioning of sewage treatment system, some are not recommended.

The proper functioning of the sanitation system requires the maintenance of its bacterial flora. To respect the environment that surrounds us, the proper functioning of your individual treatment plant and your health, we propose 8 main families of products and liquids that should not be put into your pipes:

  1. Flammable substances and liquids
    • Petrol, oil and its derivatives
    • Methanol and other methylated spirits
    • Metallic paints, paint cans
    • Solvents such as white spirit and acetone
    • Windscreen de-icers
    • Glues and derivatives (neoprene glues)
    • Aerosols, lacquers
    • etc

 

  1. Fats and oils

For example, food oils and fats should not be poured into your system. They solidify and clog your pipes. In the treatment process, they reduce the oxygen supply for bacteria.

You can dispose of small quantities of fats and oils in your household waste bin. Your local waste disposal centre can recycle larger quantities

 

  1. Non-biodegradable items

Whatever your sanitation system, non-biodegradable items such as plastics, cardboard packaging, condoms, tampons, cigarette butts, sanitary towels, cleaning wipes, etc. should not be put down the drain, as they can clog the pipes. This list is of course not exhaustive.

 

  1. Waxes and resins

Waxes and resins, including natural resins, should not be poured into your installation. They solidify and clog your pipes. In the treatment process, they reduce the oxygen supply to the bacteria.

2. Substances hazardous to the aquatic environment

    • Phytosanitary products, pesticides, weed killers…
    • Certain solvents that contain a phenol derivative
    • Substances containing heavy metals such as mercury, lead, etc.

 

  1. Clearwater

In addition, clear water (rainwater, swimming pool water, etc.) must never be allowed to flow into your wastewater treatment system.  Too much clear water would lead to untreated wastewater being discharged into the sewerage system or the natural environment. This “clear water” is free of organic matter. It does not require any special treatment.

Moreover, heavy rainfall or the emptying of your swimming pool would drain your station and discharge your wastewater directly into your sewage system or surface channels (gutters or ditches).

 

  1. Medicines

Medicines contain active substances that interfere with the proper functioning of your sewage system. Medicines should not be poured down your drains; pharmacies are able to collect them.

They can be easily recycled by taking them to the nearest pharmacy.

 

  1. Soil

Finally, soil should not be put into your pipes because it is not very biodegradable. Bacteria cannot consume soil and it accumulates at the bottom of the tank. Increased sludge levels lead to increased emptying frequencies.

Moreover, products like disinfectants, bleach-based antibacterial, or containing this active ingredient must be used in moderation, without exceeding the doses that are acceptable to the bacteria. If these doses are respected, weekly use is safe for your installation.

The European Union introduced clear pictograms on the labels of your household products. It will help you to determine if your detergent is harmful to your wastewater system.

Wastewater Treatment Dont’s

Do not allow rainwater, groundwater or large volumes of water such as those from swimming pools, Jacuzzi’s into the wastewater treatment plant. Excessive water will increase the flow rate through the plant not allowing sufficient treatment time and may also flush the micro-organisms out.

Do not dispose of nappies, sanitary towels, baby wipes, cosmetic and cleaning wipes or similar, rags or non-bio-degradable material down the toilet as they block the drains and also cause malfunction in the plant

Do not overuse bleach and disinfectants. These are safe to use in accordance with the manufacturer’s guidelines and in the minimum necessary concentration.

Do not switch off the plant while going on holidays. The plant should operate 24 hours per day, seven days a week. The air blower and the sludge return system maintain the bacteria during period of low occupancy.If the micro-organisms are destroyed due to the ingress of chemicals (or any of the products listed below) into the plant, the plant will have to be de-sludged and cleaned to restart the population of micro-organisms. The following substances will kill the working micro-organisms in the plant and should not be discharged of into the sinks or drains.

Do not pour neat bleach or disinfectants down the sink or outside drains. Often these are inappropriately used to treat foul odours from sinks and drains. However these foul smells are caused by a build-up of decaying material or a plumbing problem which should be dealt with using an appropriate method.

Don’t allow pesticides, paints, thinners, solvents, gardening chemicals or hazardous substances into the plant.

Do not pour Fats, grease or any oil down the sink or outside drains as this clog the plant

Do not dispose of medicines down the sink. Dispose of as per the manufacturer’s instructions.

Do not use sink macerators unless the plant is specifically designed to accept this increased organic load. Sink macerators result in additional maintenance.
Some everyday products, such as milk, wine, beer can increase the organic load on the plant and cannot be disposed of down the sink or outside drains.

Wastewater Treatment Do’s

Locate the treatment plant in a pedestrian area away from any super imposed loads

Ensure the finished ground level is lower than the “max ground level” indicated on the plant

Ensure that vents are clear as the plant requires a fresh supply of oxygen. Inspect regularly especially in the autumn to ensure vents are free of leaves.

Carry out regular inspections and yearly maintenance to ensure the plant is operating at the optimum. Check regularly that the air blower is working by listening for the gentle hum from the plant. A yearly maintenance contract is available from your supplier.

Inspect the plant regularly and de-sludge using a licensed contractor to ensure it operates to its optimum.

Maintain a log of inspections, de-sludging and maintenance contracts to record the full service history of the plant.

Why choose Tricel and their service partners

Fast delivery

Fast delivery and rapid response to all of our customers. Average response time of 12 minutes on weekdays.

Partner network

Combined knowledge of service partner network throughout Europe

Technical expertise

Unrivalled technical expertise in the installion, commissioning and maintenance of WWT solutions

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Tricel (Killarney) Unlimited Company
Ballyspillane Industrial Estate, Killarney, Co. Kerry, V93 X253, Ireland
Tel: 064 663 2421