Minnesota and the TMDL Issue: What are the Options?
November 15, 2006
Minnesota is a land blessed with water. However, a recent lawsuit has placed the issue of the quality of Minnesota ’s surface waters squarely in the limelight.
The lawsuit, brought by the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy (MCEA) against the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), was brought when the MPCA granted a new sewage discharge permit to the Cities of Annandale and Maple Lake . According to the MCEA, the MPCA erred in granting a new permit for discharging phosphorus to a tributary of the Mississippi River, which flows into Lake Pepin —a water body listed as an impaired water body under the Federal Clean Water Act.
The lawsuit has resulted in the stoppage of at least 60 development projects across the state. At issue is the application of the Clean Water Act to Lake Pepin, into which the Minnesota, St. Croix and upstream portions of the Mississippi Rivers all flow. Lake Pepin has been listed as an impaired water body due to high phosphorus concentrations. The MPCA must complete a study of the contributing river basin that allocates the amount of phosphorus that each wastewater source can discharge, called a “total maximum daily load”, or TMDL.
However, an extensive TMDL study is not expected until 2009. Until then, no new sources of phosphorus discharge are allowed in this watershed, which encompasses a significant portion of the state. Although the Minnesota Supreme Court is due to deliver a ruling on a challenge to this lawsuit, the fact remains that fewer than 20 percent of Minnesota ’s lakes and river miles have been assessed by the MPCA for their impairment status under the Clean Water Act. What solutions are available to allow for growth while minimizing increases in phosphorus loading to surface water bodies? Sustainable technologies such as engineered wetland treatment systems and soil disposal systems are potential solutions for many communities and developments.
The design of wastewater treatment and disposal systems that use proven technologies to distribute treated water to the native soil, thereby eliminating the need to discharge to surface waters, is a practicable solution to this issue. These technologies may include soil infiltration beds, infiltration trenches, and drip irrigation disposal fields, which are combined with engineered wetlands to treat wastewater.
Infiltration beds and trenches utilize pressure distribution to disperse treated wastewater to the native soil. Drip irrigation disposal fields utilize proven drip irrigation technology to pressure distribute treated wastewater to native soil through buried tubing. Numerous infiltration bed, trench, and drip irrigation disposal systems are in operation throughout Minnesota . Soil disposal presents a viable option for avoiding the issue of TMDLs entirely—and for preserving the quality of surface water resources.
by Brian Davis
Ph.D. Senior Design Engineer
North American Wetland Engineering, LLC
Think Like a Blogger
November 13, 2006
I received the following email from a would-be author for this blog:
"Can this blog be used for advertising services? I mean, can I promote our products on your blog.....or no? I guess I'm just confused as to what I should write about?"
I think there is confusion in many minds as to what distinguishes a blog article from other forms of communication, especially for those who are corporate communicators. Following is my short answer to a question that entire books have been devoted to answering. For a lengthier discussion, you might want to drop in on the conversation started today on the IAOCblog, where Phil Weiss is leading a discussion about the challenges of using the web in marketing, and the obstacles and opportunities web marketers are facing.
It’s Not Advertising
No, blogging is not advertising. But, yes, you can promote your products in a blog. You just need to do it an educational, rather than promotional, tone. A blog is a conversation. Use the same informal voice you'd use talking directly to a valued customer. You're informing, not selling. You're sharing insights, opinions, insider tips, thoughts on industry trends, news of new or improved products. You're eliciting feedback from the person on the other end of the conversation, and you're responding in a positive manner, whether it's praise or criticism that you're receiving. Finally, you're pointing to additional sources of information, such as technical articles or free downloads from your own website. But don't limit the information sharing to your own internal resources: point to discussions on other blogs, case studies and articles from online news media and professional organizations, or academic studies on university websites.
We All Have a Personal Brand to Sell
By the way, you don’t have to be a corporate communicator to benefit by posting to this blog. In the Internet age, we all have a personal brand that needs to be developed constantly and communicated consistently. Today, sharing knowledge is one of the most effective ways both to grow you knowledge and grow your reputation. I hope this short tutorial helps inspire more authors. If you'd like to try out an idea, compose it in Word and send it to me. I'll be happy to review it for you.
The Biolytix System
November 06, 2006
Would you believe that there is a system that uses natural aerobic processes to treat sewage, wastewater, sanitary items and food wastes into irrigation water? An Australian Company, Biolytix has Patented a process that uses worms, beetles and microscopic organisms to break down organic waste. Here is a description of the patented process...
The Biolytix Filter is a robust, organic soil ecosystem that converts sewage, wastewater, sanitary items and food wastes into irrigation water.
All the wastes are simply fed onto the Biolytix Filter bed using standard plumbing. The top layer is made up of coarse mesh bags with plastic media in them. This houses the wet soil ecosystem. It accommodates worms, beetles and billions of microscopic organisms. These soil creatures are vital “macerator” organisms, breaking up the organic material, converting the waste into humus and structuring it so that its drainage and air porosity are continually renewed and maintained indefinitely.
The organic matter particles then wash through and accumulate on the surface of a finely structured humus and coco-peat layer. Here it is reprocessed again and again and structured into a sponge-like filter matrix by the soil organisms that live in it. They constantly renew its drainage and aeration pores.
The fine structured compost has remarkable properties. It is 90% water by weight, yet has a high cation and anion exchange capacity. This means it adsorbs and holds back nutrients, chemical compounds and toxins for the trillions of living organisms to digest over time. (Competing treatment processes don't have this ability.) It also has powerful odour - absorbing capacity, which is why we can guarantee no odours.
Source: Biolytix - How it works
This process is fully aerobic, and requires no external energy input in the process. It is fully scalable to meet waste loads. Unlike other technologies, kitchen in-sink-erators are encouraged, reducing organic food waste in landfills. This system doesn't require a grease trap, doesn't need pumping out, and doesn't smell.
Most importantly, the system can produce effluent of a high primary treatment standard with the base model, through to high secondary standard in a single unit delux model, here's a quote about successful applications....
Many prestigous and discerning clients in New Zealand, Australia and South Africa already enjoy the benefits of Biolytix® Filtration for households and on a larger scale for golf course estates, eco-resorts, hotels and five star lodges.
Whether you need to supply or purify water for just one house, or save and recycle water and nutrients for a whole town, Biolytix® can help. We supply the highest performance decentralized water and sanitation equipment and services yet devised.
If you'd like to find out more about the award winning product, check out their website at biolytix.com
About the author:
Mike Thomas is a Civil Engineer designing and managing residential and municipal projects in Newcastle, Australia. He is dedicated to providing sustainable designs for sustainable communities. You can read more of his work at UrbanWorkbench.com