Sustainable / Natural Treatment

Applied Science, Inc. can offer you an on-site evaluation to determine site suitability and we work with you to find a method of treatment that best fits your needs

Natural treatment systems are engineered land/soil systems designed for treatment of wastewater. These sustainable wastewater treatment systems provide seasonal and year-round treatment, even in cold weather climates. Natural systems often provide a more efficient form of treatment with a reduced carbon footprint (less energy), reduced chemical input and lower operation and maintenance costs. Even more importantly, these systems offer greater environmental protection. Natural treatment systems often provide greater flexibility and more forgiving operation, reducing overall treatment liabilities.

Bio-mechanical wastewater treatment systems and the natural treatment systems share many of the characteristics and stages of treatment, such as anaerobic stages, aerobic stages, filtering, fixed media, phosphorus removal, nitrogen removal, etc. Upon further investigation, it is often suggeted that the soil in the natural systems mimic many of the processes in modern bio-mechanical treatment facilities, when in actuality the bio-mechanical systems mimic treatment in soil.

During the nineteenth century, land application of wastewater was the most acceptable method of wastewater treatment. As technology progressed, modern bio-mechanical systems were developed by modeling the same processes that occur naturally in soil. Land treatment was re-emphasised around the 1970’s in response to pressures created by high energy costs and the recent passing of the Clean Water Act. Studies and research showed that treatment goals could be achieved while providing significant benefits via nutrient recycle.1

More recently, increased energy costs and a resurgence in environmental stewardship have made natural treatment an even more favorable option. Conversely, bio-mechanical systems that discharge to surface water are becoming more costly to operate and have many concerned about surface water quality and meeting more stringent nitrogen and phosphorus limits.

Soil treatment of wastewater provides an indefinite and effective means of wastewater treatment. Environmental risks from mechanical and power failure, sludge production, and soil erosion are minimized. Soil treatment systems require less energy, discharge less non-renewable carbon, provide groundwater recharge, and offer effective phosphorus treatment while typically costing two to four times less than bio-mechanical systems that discharge to surface water.

Applied Science, Inc. can offer you an on-site evaluation to determine site suitability and we work with you to find a method of treatment that best fits your needs. Throughout our history, we have built and monitored numerous treatment systems, and historical data collected from performance monitoring confirms successful operation. Our clients’ ongoing performance monitoring continues to provide confirmation of continued success.

Performance monitoring

Treatment system performance is important not only to ensure proper treatment but also to ensure protection of the environment.

Like bio-mechanical treatment systems, natural treatment systems have three primary areas of performance monitoring.

The Cover Crop is an integral part of a soil treatment system. The cover crop maintains soil aeration, percolation and aids in nutrient treatment/removal. The visual health of the cover crop provides an initial feed back of treatment system health/performance. Beyond aiding in treatment performance, the cover crop creates habitat for birds and animals, and a possible feed source for livestock. These systems often mimic a prairie ecosystem and can be managed in a similar fashion through harvest or burn cycles.

Soil profile sampling/testing provides feedback on the progressing treatment of soil pore water as it is filtered and treated through the soil profile.

Thirdly, Groundwater monitoring with the installation of monitoring wells provide a confirmation of final treatment and ongoing update of groundwater quality in relation to up gradient groundwater characteristics and local land use.

1. Reed, Sherwood, Ronald Crites, and E. Joe Middlebrooks. 1995. Natural Systems for Waste Management and Treatment. 2nd ed. McGraw-Hill.