July 26, 2004

Device helps prevent septic system breakdown

A device developed by Ken Burrows, an environmental consultant in Wellington, Nova Scotia will mean a healthier environment and lower costs for homeowners by helping to eliminate a common cause of failure in septic systems.

Most of the more than 100,000 domestic septic systems in Nova Scotia use a network of pipes in a soil bed to disperse treated effluent (sewage or waste). If the dispersal pipes are not completely level, one side of the disposal bed can become overloaded and fail. The failure creates environmental and health risks and the repair is expensive.

Burrows' device, called a flow balancer, forces the effluent flow into two equal streams, ensuring that the effluent is evenly distributed through the disposal bed. The balanced flow means that the work of filtering the effluent is spread evenly across the disposal bed.

Burrows approached the environmental innovations branch at the Department of Environment and Labour with his design. "The department put me in touch with Mysore Satish with Dalhousie University's faculty of engineering. Together, we finalized and tested the design," he said.

Dr Satish noted that "the concept is simple, but we needed experimental results to prove the concept and demonstrate its effectiveness to regulators." Funding assistance for the prototype development was provided by the National Research Council's Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP). The developers have applied for a patent and are discussing manufacturing plans.

More information is available from John Perkins at Environment and Labour, 902/424-6427, E-mail perkinje@gov.ns.ca.

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