Comparing Sewage Treatment Systems

The TRUE cost of Sewage Treatment is composed of five system elements:

Cost of Tank + Cost of Installation + Cost of Emptying + Cost of Maintenance + Cost of Electricity

Questions to ask the sewage treatment manufacturers

Most people only consider the initial purchase cost of Sewage Treatment systems when looking to buy a new plant.  As a result they often pay thousands of pounds more than they anticipated because the installation, emptying and maintenance costs of sewage treatment can be seen as "hidden" expenses.

Cost of Tank: This is an obvious outlay as it is the cost of the Sewage Treatment model you purchase.

Cost of Installation: The cost of installation varies enormously.  It is usually dependant on how long the installation will take. For deep tanks requiring a lot of concrete, this raises installation costs as the concrete has to be paid for.  There will also be the requirement for an electrical supply to be installed and as a result an electrician must be contracted and paid for.   A FilterPod is one of the smallest sewage treatment works available, requires no electricity supply and can be installed in a day with an existing septic tank - this reduces installation costs considerably.

Cost of Emptying: This is one of the most expensive parts of Sewage Treatment.  The emptying (desludge) by a tanker costs about £180 by a licensed contractor (don't let a non licensed person empty your plant - it is ILLEGAL and heavy fines can be imposed.)  For 5 person system the usual desludge interval is between 6 months -12 months however for larger systems it can decrease to an interval of 30 days.  The more frequently your plant needs to be emptied the more you will have to pay every year.  A FilterPod settlement tank has a 1 to 2 year emptying interval

Cost of Maintenance: This is another hidden cost as all plants require maintenance usually twice a year, though some are annual.  Some Plant manufacturers charge a lot more than others to maintain their system, most require servicing twice a year and in order to comply with your Consent to Discharge from the Environment Agency you must take out the maintenance plan. The more complicated the system the more there is to fail either electrically or mechanically and when parts fail you will have to pay for the replacement and fitting of the parts.  This can often be very expensive.  FilterPod Sewage Treatment only needs an annual service and the replacement filter media costs only £40/year.

Cost of Electricity: All systems require electricity which has to be paid for and this usually costs between £150 to £300 a year for a 6 person system (larger systems are much more expensive, but Vortex Eco Electric systems are less).  The FilterPod is a non-electric Sewage Treatment Process and costs nothing to run.

Questions to ask the sewage treatment plant manufacturers

Does it have the EN 12566-3 2005 Certificate - This is now the only recognised Standard in the UK, according to the British Standards Institute. Only plants that have it can apply for a Discharge Permit or Exemption from the Environment Agency. Many plants don't have it.

ASK for the Test REPORT

How much does the sewage system cost and what do you get for your money? - It’s advisable to get a written quote, particularly if it is an INSTALLED price, so that you are aware of what is included in the price you are given.

ASK: for a written quote.
ASK: what is included in the quote.
The FilterPod quote includes everything.  Sometimes a cheaper purchase price can be misleading, if installation costs of the sewage system are high.  Most installers quote 'Subject to good ground conditions'.  The deeper the sewage treatment unit is installed, the more problems are likely and the more expensive the final bill!

How many times each year does it need to be serviced? - The cost of servicing a sewage treatment equipment can add up if it requires more than one service each year.

ASK: how many services are required each year and how much per service.

What does servicing involve and could it mean extra costs to you? - Most sewage plants require professional servicing twice a year.

ASK: what mechanical parts are in the system.
ASK: how long is each part expected to last. Particularly, ask non-electric plant manufacturers how much the replacement filter media costs. The top layer will need replacing every year, regardless of what you are told. Our 8 bag media pack costs £40 + VAT
ASK: what does it cost to replace each part.
ASK: if parts have a warranty, and if so, how long that warranty is.

How much electricity will it use and how much will that cost each year? - Like new white-good appliances, sewage treatment systems should now be designed to use a lot less energy and therefore have less impact on the environment.  Unfortunately, most are not, in fact some of the newest sewage treatment systems on the market use the  most electricity!   If the system relies on mechanical aerators and air blowers it could be very expensive to run.

ASK: how many Kilowatts the plant uses per year?.

Does it require de-sludging and how much will that cost? - most sewage treatment plants require a minimum annual de-sludge.

ASK: how often it requires it and how much it costs to remove this in your area.

What delivery costs are involved? The larger and heavier the tank, the more expensive it will be to transport.

ASK: what size and weight is it.
ASK: how many tanks are required.
ASK: how much will delivery cost.
ASK: will I need a machine to unload it?

Can you hear the sewage treatment system operating? Some use noisy blowers and pumps that hum up to 24 hours a day.

ASK: if you can hear it running and how long it runs each day

Does it ever smell? Some systems will smell, particularly those with unvented Primary Settlement Tanks.  Some smell with heavy use, if you do a lot of washing or have extra visitors. Some systems have a spray irrigation aeration system inside that can also emit offensive odours.

ASK: does the sewage plant have an unvented primary settlement tank.
ASK: does the system ever smell.
ASK: can heavy usage cause bad odours.

Can the system handle peaks and troughs in water use?  With some plants you need to space your water usage, which means spreading out washing and showers. Some sewage systems fail when you are absent and are not suitable for holiday homes.

ASK: if you need to space water usage.
ASK: if it is affected by extra visitors.
ASK: if it  handles absences and for how long?.

Can it cope with normal household use? - Most plants cannot accept any tampons, panty liners, wet wipes, etc.  This is impossible to police with visitors and for hotels, holiday lets, campsites, etc. Most are very sensitive to milk, beer, household chemicals, etc. and may fail if the wrong thing is accidentally put down the sink

ASK: is the system resilient to things poured down the sink and flushed down the toilet.
ASK: what chemicals are banned from use.

Is it safe for the environment? - Most plants are energy-intensive with a large carbon footprint, using excessive amounts of fossil fuels in the form of electricity for operating and sludge digestion, diesel for tankers, service vans, parts delivery, etc.

ASK: what impact it has on the environment
ASK: what is its TOTAL carbon footprint?  If they don't know, they don't care!