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.
In the July installment, we focused on septic tanks: their operation and maintenance. This article will discuss the next step following the treatment tank: leach fields. A leach field is an area of soil that typically consists of an arrangement of trenches containing perforated pipes and porous material (often gravel) covered by a layer of soil. The function of a leach field is to continue the treatment activity by removing viruses and bacteria from wastewater so that it is safe when it returns to groundwater supplies.
Gravel trenches were the customary element of leach fields. However, a new versatile and effective technology has been introduced to Roatán by ACME Environmental Solutions utilizing chambers from INFILTRATOR Systems. These gravelless leach fields receive the partially treated waters, the effluent, from a septic tank and transmit it into the undisturbed soil under and around the chambers, where final treatment and disbursement occurs. These chambers are formed from a series of arched, plastic vaults. The sides of each chamber have louvers to allow wastewater to seep into the surrounding soil. Because effluent flows freely into the space formed by the parallel rows of chambers, it spreads over much of the trench floor.
Leach fields should work efficiently for a long time, but many malfunction sooner than necessary for various reasons. Your leach field will enjoy a longer life if these guidelines are followed.
Excess Water – Households should avoid using large amounts of water on any single day – spread laundry washing over multiple days. Homeowners can minimize the flow of water from their homes by fixing leaky faucets. Surface water runoff should be directed away from the leach field.
Clogs – Too many solids can clog both a septic tank and a leach field, and potentially lead to failure of the system. ACME recommends that homeowners minimize the amount of undigested food waste that flows into their sewage system from the sink or garbage disposal and not dispose of inorganic solids such as dental floss, diapers or feminine hygiene products. Never flush substances that do not decompose.
Structural Damage – If the leach field structure is damaged, it can cease working properly and lead to flooding, backup and system failure. For this reason, homeowners should not drive vehicles over their leach fields. Roots can also clog or damage pipes, so owners should never plant trees close to leach fields.
Our daily habits determine the well-being of our sewage system and leach field. Prevention is the key! Once a leach field has failed, an expensive underground repair follows. It is our responsibility to treat our sewage waters to protect our groundwater. Treating our sewage responsibly will permit the island to maintain a healthy water supply and environment.