Aerobic Septic System

This is a mix-up of terms. There are aerobic treatment units, aka aerobic systems, and there are septic systems. Actually, even the term "septic system" is wrong. We haven't done 'septic' systems in Texas in over 50 years. (More on this in another article.)  

In an aerobic system, an aerobic treatment unit (ATU) is the main component.  It's a tank full of sewage into which air is bubbled. This adds oxygen which stimulates aerobic bacteria in the sewage to consume the organics and thereby create cleaner water exiting this ATU.  That's it.   No more fancy salesmanship. A tank where air is added and the sewage gets cleaner. Notice I said cleaner, not clean.

Aerobic treatment units (ATU) first came into Texas in the 70's, so they're not new.  ATUs became much more popular beginning in 1997 due some "convenient" changes in the State regulations written by the Legislature with the encouragement of a special interest group.  Again, they're not so new, just newly popular in Texas starting with the favorable rule changes in 1997.  

For us, we started designing, installing, and maintaining ATUs in the early 1980s, so they're definitely not new to us.  All the companies around here who were focused on ATUs and related treatment solutions, who started before or shortly after we did, are all gone.  We're the only one still in business with this depth of experience with advanced treatment units.  

Okay, so let's set aside the sales brochures and pursue some of the real-life and technical issues with these “new” (not) OSSFs.

These treatment units undergo standardized testing to determine if they will 'work' under some narrowly defined conditions.  The test methods used in their testing, however, is nothing like the conditions they're asked to handle in actual installed operations.  In a 6 month test, they only go through a few ~1 week "stress tests".  When installed, however, these units go through these stress conditions nearly every day of their life.   I guess you won't be surprised to know they don't work in the field like they do in their testing?  

Can you figure out where I'm going with this?  The testing that "proves" how well they work is nowhere near as demanding as their actual installed operation.  Not surprisingly, they way we install them here in Texas, they don't perform in the field nearly as well as they work in their testing.  

I can go much deeper into these matters, but there's a ton of information and that'll have to be another article.

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