Innovative and Advanced Systems
Home wastewater systems can have a major impact on water quality, especially when located near the shoreline. Conventional home wastewater systems have been identified as a major source of nitrogen in Long Island’s streams, ponds, bays, and Long Island Sound.
All of the sewage treatment plants on Long Island Sound have been modernized to remove more nitrogen, but our home wastewater systems remove very little.
BEST: Innovative and Advanced Systems
New types of home wastewater systems are being designed and tested which provide greater levels of treatment for many types of contaminants found in wastewater. Some of these provide the same degree of treatment as the most up-to-date municipal sewage treatment plants, such as removing 80%-90% of the nitrogen in the waste stream along with pathogens and other contaminants.
Nitrogen is a nutrient essential for the saltwater food web, but in excessive amounts it is harmful in many ways:
- Harmful algal blooms – brown tide, red tide, and algae causing shellfish poisoning;
- Excessive algal blooms – algae in such abundance that, when they die and decompose, they take all the oxygen from the water, harming marine life: fish, lobsters, shellfish, etc.
- Deterioration of salt marshes, which provide storm flood protection and vital wildlife habitat.
Currently, new systems are being evaluated for treating household wastewater to a higher quality by removing nitrogen. You can expect new alternatives to be permitted and promoted in the very near future.
For more information on the function and issues of home wastewater systems and enhanced treatment home wastewater systems visit the Center for Clean Water Technology at Stony Brook University or the New England Onsite Wastewater Training Center at the University of Rhode Island.