Frequently Asked Questions

 
 
 

Homeowner Frequently Asked Questions

What is Distributed Sewer?

Distributed Sewer is a new method of providing sewer treatment to homeowners anywhere, regardless of location. This is not just another "plug-in" advanced septic tank. It is just like having sewer service, but without the need to connect the home to a central plant through pipes.

How does it work?

A miniature wastewater treatment unit is installed underground at a residence to provide sewer service. The unit is about the same size as a regular septic tank, but that’s where the similarities end! A small but powerful computer and network interface mounts to the side of the house, like an electric meter. The computer allows the utility to monitor and operate the treatment unit from a remote location.

How much does it cost to connect?

The average Distributed Sewer connection cost ranges from $10,000 to $15,000 based on individual site conditions. However, thanks to cost-sharing programs across the State of Florida, some communities are eligible for state funding. 
The utility will determine any out-of-pocket costs to the homeowner prior to connecting the system.

Do I have to maintain it?

Once the homeowner is connected to the treatment system, a standard monthly sewer bill from the utility covers all operating and maintenance costs associated with the system, just like every other sewer system. There’s nothing else for the homeowner to do! As long as the homeowner does not damage any of the installed equipment, the system has no additional limitations and can process the same wastes as a central sewer plant. Just like a septic tank or a sewer plant, flushing strong chemicals or non-biodegradable items can damage the equipment or the environment.

Does the unit need to be pumped out?

Solids are captured and recycled in a proprietary process that filters it from the incoming wastewater in a dedicated chamber. After the wastewater is fully treated, a portion is returned to the chamber to "digest" the solids and assist in their breakdown. The result is very low accumulation and infrequent need to pump out the unit.

What advantage does Distributed Sewer offer homeowners?

Being a utility customer offers many advantages. There will never be a need to schedule septic tank inspections or pump-outs. There will never be a need to pay for a new drainfield, and there is no worry that the toilet won’t flush following rain events or during power outages. The sewer utility bill covers all costs associated with the treatment unit, and home resale values are often higher when utility services are included. Finally, there is the satisfaction of knowing you are part of the solution to reduce pollution and help protect our springs and waterways.

What advantage does Distributed Sewer offer communities?

Distributed Sewer systems do not require a network of pipes and pumps to connect homes to central sewer plants. This means no major construction impacts to neighborhoods, trees, yards and streets.

How do I sign up?

Contact your local utility to sign up. An inspection will be scheduled to determine any out-of-pocket costs prior to any final commitment. It’s that simple!

 

Developer Frequently Asked Questions

What is Distributed Sewer?

Distributed Sewer is a new method of providing sewer treatment to homeowners anywhere, regardless of location. This is not just another "plug-in" advanced septic tank. It is just like having sewer service, but without the need to connect the home to a central plant through pipes.

How does an OnSyte treatment unit work?

OnSyte treatment units create optimal conditions for naturally occurring bacteria to break down and digest organic materials and constituents existing in wastewater. Using a proven Sequencing Batch Reactor (SBR) process in a patented control system, OnSyte units treat incoming wastewater to the highest level without using filters, media, or chemicals.

How long does it take to get a Distributed Sewer system permitted and installed?

Permitting varies greatly by location but on average we plan for 3-6 months. Installation and startup typically takes 1-2 weeks depending on the size of the system. Larger units can take longer.

How do I get my project evaluated and get a quote?

OnSyte assists the developer and their civil engineer with preliminary design concepts and cost estimates at no charge. Please send your plat to info@onsyte.com to get started.

What do you do with the solids?

Solids are captured and recycled in a proprietary process that first filters it from the incoming wastewater in a dedicated chamber. After wastewater is fully treated, a portion of the wastewater and "Waste Activated Sludge" is returned to the chamber to "digest" the solids and assist in their breakdown. The result is very low accumulation and infrequent need to pump out the unit.

What do you do with your treated water?

Options for final disposal of the effluent include conventional drain-field, a drip irrigation system, injection into a designed wetlands, or can be further treated for graywater and other sustainability applications.

Can you help me to meet health codes so that I can build in an area that has rocky, poor soil or a high water table?

Absolutely! Because the majority of the contaminates are cleaned inside the tank, most states allow reduced drainfield sizes and the pre-cleaned water is perfect for an underground drip system.

Does OnSyte make large DWTUs for commercial or community development?

Yes! We manufacture treatment units in sizes ranging from 300 gpd to 10,000 gpd (AADF), each of which is “plug and play” in our SCADA system and the standard DWTS permit issued by FDEP. Large DWTU can also be configured in parallel, yielding total treatment capacities up to 100,000 gpd AADF. The equipment pricing and ongoing operating costs are determined for each application. The good news is the larger the treatment unit, the lower the cost of treatment on a per gallon basis.

 
 

Utility Frequently Asked Questions

What is a "DWTS" (Distributed Wastewater Treatment System) and how is it regulated like a conventional wastewater treatment facility?

A Distributed Wastewater Treatment System (DWTS) is a category of “Domestic Wastewater Treatment Facility,” consisting of multiple individual Distributed Wastewater Treatment Units (DWTU), each of which are “Treatment Works” that treat domestic waste to secondary treatment standards, and all of which are (1) commonly owned, (2) individually (remotely) controllable (e.g. though a SCADA system), (3) operated and maintained by licensed wastewater operators, and (4) subject to the standard inspection, monitoring and reporting requirements in Chapter 62-600, F.A.C.

What is a "DWTU" (Distributed Wastewater Treatment Unit)?

The OnSyte DWTU is a newly approved method of providing sewer treatment to to customers anywhere, regardless of location. This is not just another "plug-in" advanced septic tank. Using a proven Sequencing Batch Reactor (SBR) process in a patented control system, OnSyte units treat incoming wastewater to the DEP standards without using filters, media, or chemicals. Professional operators have complete control of the units through a Siemens-powered SCADA system.

What does it cost to install the residential treatment units?

Our current O&M service contracts include everything but lab costs, and we’ve fixed the monthly cost for a residential treatment unit at $36.60 per month for the first two years. After that, a 0-3% (CPI adjusted) annual escalator is applied.

What does it cost to operate the residential treatment units?

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How is a residential DWTU "connected" to the system, and how does it begin treating wastewater?

After the DWTU is installed, our technician connects the control panel to the electrical disconnect, powers up the unit, establishes the connection to our wireless portal (SCADA), and runs a diagnostic check. At that point, the treatment unit is ‘commissioned’ and ready to receive and treat waste. We typically install the treatment unit “dry” and rely on self-seeding to occur. As such, it takes about 4-6 weeks to achieve nominal treatment performance. If this needs to be accelerated, the unit can also be seeded with activated sludge from a WWTF by our technician during commissioning.

How do you obtain access to the DWTU for maintenance and repairs?

There are at least two approaches in use by utilities in Florida today to obtain access across private property to install, operate and maintain the equipment. We have template documents available here.

How will you ensure the system meets or exceeds effluent/pathogens limits?

The OnSyte Performance approach to septic tank replacement is an innovative and cost-effective means to reduce the amount of nitrogen and other pollutants entering groundwater and adjacent water bodies. Using technologies tested and perfected here in Florida, our team will retrofit existing septic tanks with a utility-equivalent wastewater treatment unit controlled by a wireless, cloud-based operating system. The OnSyte distributed wastewater treatment system combines a state-of-the-art “Micro-SCADA Platform” (MSP) deployed on a proprietary wastewater treatment unit that is installed in place of a septic tank at each point of use. The OnSyte MSP monitors the system, tracks water usage, reports system failures, initiates preventative repair, provides for supervisory control by a licensed wastewater operator, and performs many other functions to ensure the continued performance of the treatment unit. All system data collection and two-way communications are handled in real-time using a secure, purpose-built web portal accessible by the licensed operator. OnSyte has thoroughly and successfully tested this technology under the supervision of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) in two separate pilot tests, each lasting over two years. The FDEP has issued permits to OnSyte to operate a Distributed Wastewater Treatment System, and we can meet or exceed the water quality limits prescribed in the permits.

Is a drainfield required to meet public health safety requirements and nutrient reduction?

Yes, but only for public health safety requirements. No additional treatment or nutrient reduction is required within the drainfield to meet the FDEP permit requirements. The drainfield is the primary method of effluent disposal for the treated water exiting the DWTU. Being a subsurface disposal method, a properly designed, functioning drainfield is essential to minimizing the risk of human contact with the treated effluent. Prior to installation, a site inspection will be conducted to ensure that the existing drainfield is functioning properly and able to adequately and safely handle the disposal of the treated effluent. Any deficiencies will be identified, and a replacement drainfield will be installed if needed.

Can a DWTU be installed in high groundwater conditions?

OnSyte Treatment Units are designed to achieve the permitted effluent limits designated by the FDEP for Distributed Wastewater Treatment Systems. As long as the ground can reliably accept the treated effluent generated by the unit, the drainfield can be installed in high groundwater conditions.

How are the residential treatment units constructed, and what is their service life?

We expect a minimum of 50 years on the tank and lid, which are precast, fiber-reinforced, 5,000 psi concrete (no reinforcing steel to eliminate corrosion/delamination issues). The lid is “drive-on rated” (ASTM C1227, 810psf min. strength) and the tank walls and floor are reinforced (ASTM A615/A706) and sealed against water intrusion (ASTM C990). It’s also self-ballasted to prevent “floating” in high groundwater conditions. Our tanks are currently being manufactured by Del Zotto Concrete Products in Ocala. In the event of a large order, we will set up a dedicated manufacturing facility in close proximity to the installation area.

How much power is required to operate a residential DWTU?

We need a 20A circuit to power the units. We recommend connecting to the homeowner’s existing panel when possible, as opposed to adding a dedicated electrical drop. The power consumption estimate is about 1.25kWh per day (less than $5 per month at typical rates), so connecting to the home is the most cost effective solution. In new construction, we ask the builder to install an exterior electrical disconnect on the wall closest to the installation location. In retrofit scenarios, we schedule an appointment with the homeowner to access the master panel and send a licensed electrician to determine if adequate service is available. Then the electrician pulls a permit to install the circuit breaker and disconnect and run the power to the disconnect. Unless there is inadequate service at the home and something major needs to be done, the standard electrical work is included in our installation price.

Does OnSyte make large DWTUs?

Yes! We manufacture treatment units in sizes ranging from 300 gpd to 10,000 gpd (AADF), each of which is “plug and play” in our SCADA system and the standard DWTS permit issued by FDEP. Large DWTU can also be configured in parallel, yielding total treatment capacities up to 100,000 gpd AADF. The equipment pricing and ongoing operating costs are determined for each application. The good news is the larger the treatment unit, the lower the cost of treatment on a per gallon basis. We can even assist utilities who may be nearing capacity limits with supplemental treatment trains that can be plumbed into existing headworks and disposal systems.

 

Frequently Asked Questions for Community Leaders

How does an OnSyte treatment unit work?

The OnSyte treatment unit (DWTU) creates optimal conditions for naturally occurring bacteria to break down and digest organic materials and constituents existing in wastewater. Using proven Sequencing Batch Reactor (SBR) processes utilizing suspended-growth activated-sludge, the OnSyte System treats incoming wastewater to the highest degree without using filters, media, or chemicals.

How is this different than an "advanced septic system?"

Distributed Sewer is a new method of providing sewer treatment to homeowners anywhere, regardless of location. This is not just another "plug-in" advanced septic tank. It is just like having sewer service, but without the need to connect the home to a central plant through pipes.

Can a community receive BMAP credits from FDEP for nitrogen removal?

We have received approval from FDEP for 80% nitrogen removal. We test for nitrate and total nitrogen in the monthly effluent sampling and provide this information to FDEP in the monthly DMRs for verification of treatment performance. Nitrogen credits expressed in pounds removed per year can be provided in a FDEP-approved format.

What do you do with the solids?

Solids are captured and recycled in a proprietary process that first filters it from the incoming wastewater in a dedicated chamber. After wastewater is fully treated, a portion of the wastewater and "Waste Activated Sludge" is returned to the chamber to "digest" the solids and assist in their breakdown. The result is very low accumulation and infrequent need to pump out the unit.

 

2282 Killearn Center Blvd
Tallahassee, FL 32312

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