Septage crisis is spreading in the UK

Cornwall’s ongoing issue with a lack of facilities able to treat septic waste could be replicated in other parts of the UK, according to an equipment manufacturer.

With South West Water turning septage tankers away from its treatment works during what have now become prolonged periods of heavy rainfall, some residents have been unable to flush their toilets because their septic tanks are full.

SAVECO Beast has increased septage throughput by more than 30% at one site

Craig Webb from SAVECO, who provide systems for the rapid processing of septage, said, “I can understand the Environment Agency’s view that disposal companies should invest more in storage and treatment facilities, but water companies can do likewise.”

Webb pointed to the recent investment made by Pellows — the longest established liquid waste disposal contractor in Cornwall in SAVECO Beast, which is a 4.5m3 tanker that used to take over 20mins to empty, but can now get back out on the road to collect more liquid waste after less than 3mins discharge time.

“With an estimated 1.5 million domestic septic tank owners in the UK’s fast-growing population,” he added. “The problem with a lack of facilities and regular storm events is not going to go away. It is time for the water industry to follow America’s lead by investing much more in septage facilities.”

According to Webb, this can provide a steady income stream for water companies from the charges made to waste contractors, rather than missing out on an opportunity by stating that they have no statutory obligation to accept it.

“The new receiving station at Pellows increased throughput by more than 30%, and payback was just four months,” he said. “Grit removal should also play a bigger role in the effective treatment of septage, which can be processed faster with the right, robust systems, protecting equipment further down the treatment process.”

As a plug-in-and-play system, Pellows has benefitted from the SAVECO Beast, designed with a fully integrated 5mm screen, conveyor and compactor, all-in-one unit to remove harmful debris and dewater it prior to discharge. It can handle 200m3/hr and up to 6-8% solids.

Webb also added that [environmental wet waste] is “becoming a double-whammy for rural homes, factories, hotels and holiday parks without main sewer connections facing issues, as more water company facilities potentially turn away septage tankers during prolonged rainfall”.

“This then creates the costly knock-on effect of hauliers being forced into driving long distances across neighbouring counties to find a facility that can accommodate them, which is not exactly a great advert for reducing carbon footprint,” he said.