NC State Extension

On-Site Wastewater Training

On-Site Wastewater Training, Management, Demonstration, and Research
at the Vernon James Center, Plymouth, NC.

The land area surrounding the Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds contain extensive acreage of soils that are either provisionally suitable or unsuitable for conventional on-site wastewater systems. Despite poor soils, this area is experiencing continued growth. This growth often forces the use of alternative, innovative, and experimental wastewater technologies that are inherently more complicated than a conventional on-site system. Therefore, there is a need for advanced training of environmental health specialists, installers, operators, and CES agents in the installation and maintenance of these systems as well as the existing conventional systems. The On-Site Demonstration Facility located at the Tidewater Research Station/Vernon James Center (TRS/VJC) was established for this purpose.

Construction of the On-Site Demonstration Facility began in 1995. Currently, several systems are on display including a conventional gravity system, a low pressure pipe (LPP) system, a pressure manifold for a level site, two drip irrigation systems, a peat bio-filter treatment unit, a package plant, and several alternative trench designs. Additional demonstrations are planned and shall be installed as funding permits. The demonstration systems are sized for the soil conditions at the TRS/VJC according to NCDEHNR Laws and Rules for Sewage treatment and Disposal Systems. This allows for side by side comparison of space requirements for the various systems. Furthermore, the systems have been constructed above ground thus exposing the system components. This provides an opportunity to demonstrate the nature of the components, their operation, and maintenance requirements. The systems are demonstrated using clean water only. In order to illustrate how the systems are to be installed several cut-away trenches are utilized. The cut-away trenches illustrate the amount of gravel within the trenches, proper placement of the distribution lines, and the amount of soil cover required.

The On-site Demonstration Facility acts as a major training area for agents, specialists, installers, and operators thus promoting the use of the most appropriate technologies for a given site. To date over 10 workshops, training sessions, or facility tours have been given at the site. The training often involves people with diverse backgrounds thus fostering a sense of cooperation. Furthermore, several of the training sessions focus on hands-on operation and maintenance. During these sessions individuals gain the knowledge and skills needed to assist in siting, designing, troubleshooting, and maintaining on-site systems.

The Facility has the potential to be a resource for interested public officials as well as individuals to in order to explain various options and illustrate the need for proper and timely maintenance and overall landuse planning. Overall this improved understanding should promote proper use and maintenance of on-site systems thus decreasing one source of non-point surface and ground water pollution. In order to accomplish the reduction in NPS and ground water pollution potential the facility will need to constantly adapt to the needs of the community and demonstrate the newest and most effective technologies that are available. Such a task can only be fully realized through continued public and private support of the Demonstration Facility.


Conventional System: This demonstration consists of a 1000 gallon septic tank, distribution box, and three 100′ drainage lines spaced 9′ on center. The system was designed for a loading rate of 0.4 gallons per square foot per day. At the far end of one line a cut away trench has been installed to illustrate the proper amount of gravel and soil cover that is needed for this type of system.


Drip Irrigation Systems: Both pressure compensating and non-pressure compensating system are displayed. Each system consists of 10 drip lines 100′ long and on 2′ centers. Drip emitters are located every 2′ along each line.


 Low Pressure Pipe (LPP) System: This demonstration consists of a 1000 gallon septic tank, a pump tank, a control panel and pump, distribution manifold, and four 120′ LPP lines spaced 5′ on center. The system was designed for a loading rate of 0.4 gallons per square foot per day. At the far end of one line a cut away trench has been installed to illustrate the proper amount of gravel and soil cover that is needed for this type of system. An additional cut away trench has been installed illustrating the use of an alternative trench system instead of a conventional gravel trench.


Package Treatment Plant: This unit was designed to accommodate the flow from several individual homes.


Alternative Trench Designs: Four alternative trench designs are displayed. Each design is displayed in a cut away trench thus demonstrating the amount of cover required.


Pressure Manifold for a Level Site: This demonstration consists of a 1000 gallon septic tank, a pump tank, a control panel and pump, distribution manifold, and three 100′ drainage lines spaced 9′ on center. The system was designed for a loading rate of 0.4 gallons per square foot per day. At the front end of one line a cut away trench has been installed to illustrate the proper amount of gravel and soil cover that is needed for this type of system.


Peat Biofilter: Two Peat Biofilter modules are displayed. Each module is designed to accommodate the flow of one bedroom (2 people). The system is design to reduce bacterial load by 95 to 99%, total suspended solids (TSS) by 95 to 99%, and biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) by 99%. Preliminary results from a research site in Gates County, NC confirms these reduction goals.


Two pavilions allow for instruction during inclement weather as well as house additional displays of system components including: concrete and plastic distribution boxes, flow dividers, assorted PVC fittings, control panels, floats, and pumps. Additionally, several state of the art water table recording wells are installed on site. Future plans include a series of sand filter demonstrations and advanced treatment options particularly focusing on nutrient reduction.


 Soil examinations on site.


 Hands-on experience with system maintenance and trouble shooting.

Many Thanks

The funding for this project was through grants from FHA, NC State, and an EPA 319 grant. EPA 319 projects are “demonstration projects” intended to show people what can be done to address nonpoint source pollution.

We are indebted to the following vendors and entities who have donated materials and/or labor to the Plymouth Training Center thus far. Their assistance is invaluable and much appreciated. Website links are included as a courtesy to companies who have helped with the center and does not constitute endorsement of products by North Carolina State University.

Aqwa, Inc.
American Manufacturing, Inc.
Bio-microbics, Inc.
Bord na Mona Environmental Products U.S., Inc.
Confederate Sales, Inc.
CSI Custom Controls
EZFlow, LP Now Ring Industrial Group
GAG Sim-Tech, Inc.
Geoflow Subsurface Drip Systems 
Harry Warren, LLC 
Infiltrator Systems, Inc. 
Nasco
Nature Works, Inc.
NC Division Of Environmental Health
Norwesco, Inc. 
Polylok, Inc. 
Price Marketing, Inc.
Blue Diamond Industries, LLC
SJE Rhombus, Inc. 
Southeast Soil Science
T and J Panels
Mr. J.E. Tyson
Tuff-Tite
Zabel Environmental Technologies, Inc.
Zoeller Co.

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