A look inside advanced wastewater systems
Bob Eichinger, Tom Montalbine and Edward Barnett stand next to an advanced wastewater system at the Roman Stone facility in Bay Shore.


A look inside advanced wastewater systems


Out of four Suffolk County provisionally approved advanced wastewater systems, Norweco, a water and wastewater treatment manufacturer based in Ohio, produces two, the Singulair and the Hydro-Kinetic. 

Thomas Montalbine, president of Roman Stone Construction Co. in Bay Shore since 1962, is the exclusive Long Island distributor for Norweco. He invited our sister paper, the Long Island Advance to take a closer look at how the systems work and how they are made.

Buried underground, the alternative systems appear the same way old septic tanks/cesspools do, however, they are airtight and feature three to four chambers for filtration and denitrification.

According to Bob Eichinger of Advanced DWTS, an expert in wastewater treatment systems, the Singulair, which reduces nitrogen by 12 parts per million, takes 48 hours from start to finish. Raw sewage goes in and highly treated effluent comes out. About 70 percent of nitrogen and 95 percent of suspended solids and pathogens are reduced.

The Hydro-Kinetic, which reduces nitrogen by 7.95 parts per million, takes 72 hours from start to finish. The drinking water standard is 10 parts per million or less. The county currently requires a reduction in nitrogen by 19 parts per million. Those numbers, Eichinger explained, are averages and vary depending on the household. He also noted that the Hydro-Kinetic gave the highest treatment results ever recorded by the National Sanitation Foundation.

A conventional septic tank allows solids to settle and about 50 percent of the dirty effluent goes into a leaching pit with some level of purification, but no nitrogen treatment. A conventional cesspool does nothing but instead allows raw sewage to leach through slots, giving the sewage no chance to separate.

Maintenance for an advanced wastewater system is about $300 a year to enter into a contract for regular care of the only moving part, the aerator. 

The aerator also comes with a prorated lifetime guarantee. 

Additional costs also include pump-outs of the solids from the first chamber every three to five years. According to Eichinger, a maintenance contract with a certified manufacturer such as Roman Stone is required after the issued three-year warranty is up. Regular maintenance will be conducted twice a year.

Normally, he explained further, the aerator does not need replacement but rather needs to be cleaned from regular clogs. If and when an issue arises, an alarm will go off at the Service Pro WASP Integrated System control panel placed on the side of the household, indicating service is needed. The homeowner can disable the alarm while waiting for a technician. The control panel also monitors the system and assures protection against surges.

“Maintenance is vastly less than conventional septic tanks and cesspools,” assured Edward Barnett of Advanced DWTS. 

“You’re not going to wake up one morning, six years later, and need to pump,” added Eichinger, comparing the systems to the inconvenience of cesspools and septic tanks.

Additionally, he said, the Norwecos have a small footprint, simple design and come at a great price. Without county funding, the estimated Singulair costs $12,500 installed and comes with a three-year warranty and two services per year, 7,500 system only. Leaching pits or cesspools can be used for dispersal and may not need to be removed.

How it works:

The Singulair features three chambers. The first, the pretreatment chamber, is where raw sewage is dumped from the house; the effluent moves on to the next chamber but most of the solids settle in the first. The second aeration chamber features an aerator that feds aerobic “healthy” bacteria, which consumes organic material and supports the denitrification process. In the last and third chamber, the clarification chamber, treated wastewater goes through additional filtration, resulting in a clean, treated effluent. Any remaining solids will settle and by gravity move back into the aerator chamber for further treatment. The aerator is made of plastics and the tank itself is precast concrete and capped at three access points with plastic lids.

The larger, Hydro-Kinetic system features two additional chambers, one for additional pretreatment and one for additional clarification and filtration. Another positive result of the systems, he added, is recharging the aquifer. By using an advanced system, purified effluent is put back into the aquifer.

The larger system, he explained, is for residential use and attractive for those interested in further purification or those who live closer to a body of water. “It really gives the maximum treatment possible,” he said.

Both systems are completely made on-site at the Roman Stone facility. According to Montalbine, cement made at his facility is of the highest quality and can last decades. The plant is a NYS Department of Transportation-certified facility, meaning there are two quality control inspectors and regular audits.

“We are restricted to the type of material we can buy and our cement is the highest quality we can possibly get with today’s technology,” he said. 

Now that the county has granted approval, Roman Stone is currently prepared to produce about 250 systems a year. If demand increases, Montalbine said, he is prepared to buy another mold to increase production.

The Suffolk County Department of Health Services provisionally approved the Norweco Singulair on Oct. 7, 2016. The Hydro-Kinetic was approved provisionally on April 21, 2017.

According to County Executive Steve Bellone’s office, the systems are two of four provisionally approved systems since the Septic Demonstration Pilot Program launched. Currently, there are five Norweco Singulairs and five Hydro-Kinetics installed throughout the county. Three of the 10 are installed in Brookhaven.

“Two Noreweco systems have been approved. They and Roman Stone have really been out in the fore front of this effort,” said Bellone. “Roman Stone is a local company, family owned, that has really been on top of improving our water quality while also creating local jobs.” 

 The county has since hosted three community meetings to promote the septic improvement program in Flanders, Port Jefferson and Huntington. The next meeting is scheduled for tomorrow, May 12 at 7:30 p.m. at the Middle County Library in Centereach.

County Executive Steve Bellone’s septic improvement program faces legislative vote on May 16. Once approved, the application process would begin on July 1. At that time, eligible homeowners, making less than $500,000 a year for partial grant monies and less than or equal to $300,000 for full, can apply at a first-come, first-served basis. Homes within 1,000 feet of an enclosed water body are first priority.