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Sewage and Sanitation Articles

Sunset Villas

Sunset Villas is a beautiful community in West End that is modernizing the way they deal with their water and sewage. They are currently undergoing a very important process to install all new gravity sewers and connecting their buildings to the West End sewer system and treatment plant.

This solution was designed and installed by ACME, and it gives them the benefit of doing away with their old septic tanks and leach fields. This new sewer connections are creating a more pleasant and safe environment for Sunset Villas and its surroundings!

Remember when you got ACME, you got a friend!!!


The ABC’s Of Delta Whitewater Tanks

One of the most effective Aerobic Treatment Units (ATU’s) built to handle domestic sewage is the Delta Whitewater® Tank.  Many of these units have been installed on the island, but because all of them are below ground and hidden, you may not even know that you have one in your own backyard!  The purpose of this article is to provide all users with helpful general information of how these popular tanks work and how to do a proper maintenance on them.

One of the most important advantages Delta tanks have over other ATU systems is that they are adequate for use in poor soils, in areas with high water tables and other difficult sites, many which are found on our island.  These units can clean wastewater removing up to 97% of the impurities of the original wastewater.

The system is composed by a fiberglass tank sized according to the volume it will treat, an air compressor and an alarm panel.  Another component that should be considered by owners of Delta systems is a pre-treatment tank which should be installed between the house and the tank.  Many Delta systems were installed on the island without this vital part.  This pre-treatment tank should collect the non-biodegradable waste, such as plastic, paper and latex trash that are harmful to the operation of the Delta tank.


The Delta process involves mixing the air and the liquid with suspended sludge.  The air supports the bacteria that digest the organic wastes.  In this system the waste cycles inside the tank and the clear water rises to the top and exits the tank where it is discharged to a dispersal area such as a leach field.  Owners must be aware of the need to protect the bacteria in the system from anything that will kill them, specifically excess bleach or disinfectants used in toilets.  It is critical to ensure the air pump is operating to provide oxygen to the bacteria.  There is a buzzer on the alarm panel that will sound when there is a system problem.  The switch on the alarm panel should be kept in the “Normal” position. If the alarm goes off, call a professional service technician immediately.

Owners should check weekly to see that the air pump is working correctly.  If the air pump is not working, your system is failing!  On a quarterly basis, air filters should be cleaned and rinsed with warm water. Every six months, owners should check the quality of the color, turbidity and an odor in your effluent to ensure the system is doing its job.  Also, every one to three years, after performing a settleometer test, excess sludge will have to be removed using a pumper truck. art7-2

These maintenance routines can be managed by your local professional wastewater company, ACME Environmental Solutions.  ACME is the island’s sole distributor for Delta Whitewater® Systems and can help you check your system’s current condition and also provide parts for your Delta units.

The Care And Feeding Of Our Sewage Systems

MarchDesigning and building septic or sewage systems for businesses and residences is quite a fun task! It takes a lot of data collection to be able to offer the best solutions for clients.  The engineer designing the system must consider such things as the number of rooms in homes, the gallons of water per day utilized in buildings and the type of soil where system will be discharged for the last part of the treatment (in septic systems it is known as the drain field).  But once this design process is completed and the system is installed, the operation of the system falls to the owners and operators of the systems.

Maintenance! The Key word is Maintenance! How we take care of our septic or sewage system is very important. A failing system is pretty unpleasant to deal with; it may cause overflows or backups in the home or business which creates a terrible mess.  Depending on your system, there will be some different points to consider but basically, solids (sludge) and scum will always have to be removed. Normally, wastewater from the kitchen, bathrooms and laundry flow into a tank.  The solids such as feminine hygiene products, wipes and other non-biodegradable objects remain trapped inside the tank.  All these solids accumulate and need to be removed and disposed of properly.  The liquid known as effluent will make its way to the drain field where it leaches through the soil in traditional septics or proceeds to a secondary and tertiary treatment in advanced plants.  The scum which is often oil, grease and soap floats on the top of the effluent and is removed when the solids are pumped.

If not removed, the solids and scum will accumulate reducing the effective tank volume, resulting in wastewater movingMarch-2 through the tank more rapidly with less treatment.  This puts the ground water and surface waters at risk for contamination.  As this accumulation of solids gets worse, the solids will spill over the drain field and clog it prematurely, which is very expensive to correct.

If garbage disposals are used in kitchen, these practically double the amount of solids entering the system – meaning more pumping!  So let’s consider limiting the use of the garbage disposals, not using too much water (50 gallons per person per day should be the standard), avoid adding cooking oils, grease, hygiene products, cigarette butts, pesticides, paints and thinners into the system.  With proper maintenance, a septic system can work efficiently for many years.

ACME Environmental Solutions offers pump services throughout Roatan.  We own two pump trucks of 1,600 and 1,200 gallons respectively.  ACME recommends that each owner keeps records of repairs, pumping and any other maintenance activities that have been done on their system.  Proper maintenance includes having the tank pumped up regularly, conserving water and spreading out water usage and protecting drain fields.

New Technologies In The Sewage Business

FebIn this day and age, technology can be applied to everything that surrounds us, making life easier.  In this article, we will introduce handy tools that help unclog drains or leach fields that are filled with debris such as tree roots, hair, grease and excessive amount of toilet paper which create backups.  This is an annoying task that no one wants to deal with but there is new equipment that helps out with these nasty ordeals. The roots of plants are drawn to water as they grow.  If there are leaks in our sewer pipes, tree roots find their way into the pipes and obstruct the flow of waste.  Then grease and hair are trapped by the roots which eventually block the pipe.  This trapped material and the roots have to be cut up and removed to restore the flows. Leach fields are more susceptible because they are intentionally designed with perforations and they might end up attracting roots.  The most common way of clearing these blockages and restoring the flows of waste is by using a rotating flexible metal cable called a drain snake.  Some people will try to use wire that often damages the pipes themselves.

The drain snake is inserted into the drain pipe where the clog is occurring and is then maneuvered until it reaches the blockage. There are a few different types of drain snakes; there are the standard hand-held drain snakes that are turned by hand and can be successfully used in household plumbing.  For larger pipes or longer distances, powered drainpipe cleaning machines are required.  These machines use the mechanical force of an electric motor to twist a long, flexible metal cable through the clogged pipe.  These electric drain snakes or Roto-rooters are inserted into drains and pushed to the point of the clog.  Then the motor is turned on so the cutter head (auger) can cut up and dislodge the items blocking the flow by cutting and pushing on the debris until the drain is cleared. The cables can be up to an amazing 80 meters long.

There are also flexible cables that don’t rotate that have cameras on the end of them that can be inserted into the pipe soFeb-2 the operator can see where and what the blockage is. ACME Environmental Solutions has added to its product line the Spartan Drain Machine and so far, we have successfully helped out various households with drain blockages.

Preventive actions can be taken to avoid these blockages.  Users need to be informed that household substances such as grease and oil, disposable diapers, wipes, and other sanitary products need to be disposed in the garbage, and not into sewer lines.  Wiping hair out of the sink instead of washing it down the drain will also help.    Caustic drain cleaners should be avoided as they can damage plastic plumbing and kill the valuable bacteria in the septic system.  These small actions will help keep the sewer lines clear.

West End: A Community With An Environmental Focus

Roatan enjoyed another successful International Fishing Tournament this year! It was, without a doubt, an exciting and proud time for Roatán not only because the island was the host for the internationally popular festivities but also because island anglers won both events – the Rodeo and Bill Fish events.  The village of West End showcased a brand new paved road, one that has been under construction for much of this year and was enjoyed by residents and visitors.


Buried a few meters under this kilometer-long ribbon of stamped concrete road lays an entirely new sewage collection system.  This very popular tourist area has now the capability to treat its sanitary waste utilizing its newly installed sewer system. The system has 4 lift stations throughout the community that pump waste from homes and businesses to its final destination, the West End Waste Water Treatment Plant.  This plant was designed to treat up to 130,000 gallons per day and to remove 95% of the organic material, pathogens and suspended solids from the sewage stream. This treatment plant was completed on December of 2011 by ACME Environmental Solutions


The plant uses a treatment technology called the Extended Aeration Activated Sludge Process.  This treatment uses microorganism to feed on organic elements in the wastewater, producing a high quality effluent. This is the most popular biological treatment process for small to medium communities because it is very effective and can be built on a relatively small piece of land.


How exciting is it that West End will be able to treat all of its waste waters?  That this untreated waste will not be affecting the ground waters or the surface waters in this beautiful water front community!  The technology is environmentally friendly taking care of excess nutrients such as Nitrogen and Phosphorus that negatively impact our beautiful coral reef ecosystems.


For households that are now or will soon be connected to the new collection system, there is no change in their use habits.  Users can continue to use the same dish washing liquids, shampoos, soaps, etc although it is always recommended that items such as diapers, cigarette ends, plastics, papers, and other non-biodegradable materials not enter the sewer system.  Grease, paint and other materials like engine oils are big No-No’s!


The Municipality of Roatán and the resident of West End, have invested in an incredible project that makes West End more livable and more enticing for visitors and investors. It is very important for the community to protect the valuable ocean ecosystems by properly connecting their home and businesses to the sewer system.  West End has taken a giant leap forward in its protection of the waters that make the annual fishing tournament and many other events will be sustainable well into the future.