Synopsis: What options besides centralized sewering for a small communities’ wastewater treatment system?
The long-awaited spring was definitely in the air and every man, woman, and child in the town of Taughin could feel it. Throughout the winter months the overriding focus of the townspeople had been the anticipated midyear groundbreaking on a 120-acre plot 40 miles to the south. The old Trebor family farmstead would soon be filled with a hundred new homes.
Trebor family history and influence still ran deep in Taughin. “What would old man Trebor have thought about that?” was often the speculation whenever a new announcement about the development was released. While the town welcomed the growth and business the development would bring, some bittersweet feelings lingered over the obvious end to this chapter in the area’s history.
No one was more aware of this than the principals at Vinters Luck Properties, LLC, the contractors who had won the bid for the new development. There was more at stake in Taughin than just their professionalism; they too felt a keen responsibility to honor the area’s heritage. This upped the ante on every decision on the development, not the least of which was the choice for its wastewater treatment.
What are the options?
Running the numbers, the developers discovered that city sewer service came with a prohibitive upfront price tag for a development that would be built in phases. Individual treatment required more land per lot due to county regulations and would allow fewer than 75 total homes to be built. The pragmatic solution that emerged after much discussion was a STEP system with decentralized wastewater treatment. And now the only remaining decision—which STEP system?
This was the subject that Jeff Robi, head design engineer, and Frank Newman, general contractor, had met to discuss this early spring day. They drew on their collective memories of similar successful projects.
“Hey Jeff, remember when we were wrestling with the Fine Oaks development? And that strange silver and blue dude—remember that guy?—swooped in and helped us turn that project around. The fact that he could fly was a smaller miracle than bringing that project in on time. What was his name!?” Frank asked.
“You can only be talking about Robust!” Jeff chuckled as he reached for the BioMicrobics catalog and began thumbing through it.
He flicked his rotary card index open to BioMicrobics. “Let’s give him a call now.”
Robust answered with his signature greeting, “Better Water, Better World. How may I help you?”
“Hi, Robust, Jeff Robi here with Frank Newman of Vinters Luck Properties. We are designing a development outside of Taughin and need a waste treatment system for approximately 100 homes. We have decided that a STEP system makes the most sense. I have your catalog here on my desk and see something called a BioSTEP®. Can you explain that system to Frank and me?” Jeff asked.
“Well, Jeff, you actually caught me on my way into an engineer’s office. I shouldn’t be too long, maybe a half-hour, just dropping off some project literature. Give me your address and we can sit down and go over the details. Will that work?” Robust asked.
Jeff and Frank reviewed the catalog data and had a list of questions by the time Robust arrived. Jeff and Frank outlined the project to Robust and listened intently as Robust explained BioSTEP’s capability of handling solid waste particles up to a fourth of an inch compared to most systems being able to handle only solids a half or a quarter of that size. He assured them that would help prevent potential clogging problems.
Jeff emphasized how concerned they were about price and asked Robust to remember that when he prepared the quote. He also dutifully reminded him that Vintner would be contacting other system manufacturers as is their customary practice.
Robust nodded, “I’ll be back to you with a detailed proposal. Just let me recap now to be sure I caught everything.”
He paused and Jeff and Frank heard a soft whirr before Robust spoke, “Your development will be built out in three phases. The first 40 homes will be built initially and once they are sold, you will want to add on to the STEP system and into the main MyFAST® wastewater treatment system.”
When they nodded their assent, Robust continued, “And as you probably remember from our last project, once your order is received, we can have it out to you within the next 48 hours. Just one more question: when is groundbreaking?”
Robust shook hands with both of them and, without fanfare, took a step outside and launched himself up and over the parking lot. Frank turned to Jeff and said, “You know, every time I meet with that guy, I end up completely forgetting he’s bionic until he does that.”
Planning stages in the ensuing weeks
Jeff, Frank, and Robust met often to discuss and finalize the schematics of the project. The contract included several components in addition to the BioMicrobics treatment system. Jeff and Frank advised Robust that the project had an estimated completion date of three years.
Ultimately, Vinters Luck Properties placed an initial order for a STEP system for the first 40 homes along with a MyFAST treatment plant. They had also determined that the effluent from the treatment plant would be used to irrigate the common area. This, Jeff knew, would be a big winning point to announce during groundbreaking.
When that June day finally arrived, it seemed the entire population of Taughin turned out for the event. The atmosphere was positively festive. The mayor and other officials made their perfunctory speeches; the ceremonial groundbreaking shovel passed from dignitary to dignitary. But the surprise of the day was when Robust flew in carrying a BioMicrobics flag and presented the officials with gifts from BioMicrobics.
Frank leaned over and whispered to Jeff, “How did you arrange that?”
But Jeff merely grinned as grownups and youngsters stared slack jawed at the robotic figure explaining the advantages of this wastewater technology while hovering several feet above the ground so even those in the back of the crowd could see and hear him.
Jeff’s grin widened when he heard one long-time Taughin resident comment to his neighbor, “You know, I think old man Trebor would have liked this guy.”