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Old 27-09-2013, 20:03   #1
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Sewage Treatment Systems

Ahoy mates,
Aaah, what a fine day....results came in yesterday on the engine survey....all's good to go. Hull survey next Thursday and then the vessel of our dreams (1990 SeaRay 440 aft cabin) becomes our home!! I'm REALLY excited!! My question for you all is, we're living aboard in the California Delta, and want to install a sewage treatment system so we don't have to be hunting a pumpout all of the time. I've heard of the sani-flush and Lectra-San systems, if I have those names correct, are there others out there? Anyone have good or more importantly, bad things to say about any of them? Thanks a bunch!
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Old 27-09-2013, 20:41   #2
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Pretty sure your in a restricted discharge area and those options are not legal unless you navigate off shore. Go with a compost system or holding tank.
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Old 27-09-2013, 20:43   #3
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Re: Sewage treatment systems

Most areas are zero discharge, treated or not.
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Old 27-09-2013, 21:12   #4
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No, I've checked the Fed NDZ lists, the area we'll be in is not on them!
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Old 27-09-2013, 21:19   #5
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Re: Sewage treatment systems

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Originally Posted by jmcdboater View Post
No, I've checked the Fed NDZ lists, the area we'll be in is not on them!
Yeah, looks like you're right.

SHIPSHAPE SANITATION -- msds and pumpouts

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Remember, it is illegal to discharge untreated boat sewage into any of California's lakes, rivers, reservoirs, or coastal waters within the three-mile U.S. territorial limit. In addition, there are 11 federal "No Discharge" Areas in California where the discharge of any untreated or treated boat waste is prohibited:

Lake Tahoe
Mission Bay
San Diego Bay - Less than 30 feet mean lower low water
Oceanside Harbor
Dana Point Harbor
Upper and Lower Newport Bay
Sunset Aquatic Park (Sunset Bay) - Inland of Pacific Coast Highway Bridge
Huntington Harbor
Channel Islands Harbor
Avalon Bay Harbor
Richardson Bay
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Old 27-09-2013, 21:22   #6
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Originally Posted by jmcdboater View Post
Ahoy mates,
Aaah, what a fine day....results came in yesterday on the engine survey....all's good to go. Hull survey next Thursday and then the vessel of our dreams (1990 SeaRay 440 aft cabin) becomes our home!! I'm REALLY excited!! My question for you all is, we're living aboard in the California Delta, and want to install a sewage treatment system so we don't have to be hunting a pumpout all of the time. I've heard of the sani-flush and Lectra-San systems, if I have those names correct, are there others out there? Anyone have good or more importantly, bad things to say about any of them? Thanks a bunch!
Best of luck on your move onboard.

With all of my other projects, installing a real sewerage treatment system is a high priority for me.

Third world countries use unglazed clay pots to filter contaminated water. RO Desalinators use high pressure across a ceramic filter to make fresh water from salt water.

A Thomas Alva of turds has yet to market the st sys that will satisfy the zero discharge requirements for a small sailing vessel.

One of you young Einsteins get to work.

I'll save room in my engine room for serial #3.
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Old 28-09-2013, 09:03   #7
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Re: Sewage treatment systems

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Originally Posted by Cap Erict3 View Post
Best of luck on your move onboard.

With all of my other projects, installing a real sewerage treatment system is a high priority for me.

Third world countries use unglazed clay pots to filter contaminated water. RO Desalinators use high pressure across a ceramic filter to make fresh water from salt water.

A Thomas Alva of turds has yet to market the st sys that will satisfy the zero discharge requirements for a small sailing vessel.

One of you young Einsteins get to work.

I'll save room in my engine room for serial #3.


Einsteins IMHO are not the answer. Better still is to invest in better ways to overcome environmental lobbying. Nothing will satisfy the feel good environmentalists!
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Old 28-09-2013, 09:35   #8
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Re: Sewage treatment systems

You might want to do a search of the forum on this topic. Particularly, the input of Peggy Hall, who has contributed mightily to informing people about how to deal effectively with poop. She influenced my decision to construct an aerobic holding tank using a bacterial culture that consumes the poop, reducing the smell and other nasty characteristics of the food source.

Instead of using the standard 1/2" vent hose to exhaust noxious gases from a holding tank, an aerobic system merely uses two large (1 1/2") diameter vent hoses, mounted on opposite sides of the hull. One captures the breeze, the other vents it. The fresh air feeds the oxygen-breathing bacteria and helps them do their thing. The tank, itself, is merely a container. Mine is mounted above the water line, allowing a tee fitting at the bottom. One side goes up to the deck fitting for waste suction hose access. The other, passing through a 1 1/2" plastic ball valve, exits via a through hull fitting just above the waterline. For power boats and multihulls, this is a great system. It's more of a challenge for a "leaner", so you would have to dump over the side (in acceptable locations, of course) when the tank wouldn't get filled with seawater from heeling the wrong direction.

The bacterial solution is "K.O." by Raritan (?), available at West Marine, but being a bacterial soup, one could probably make their own using the "starter" solution. I need to look into that for going cruising. On the other hand, I probably will just need to keep the valve wide open and let the waste wash right out over the side via the holding tank.

Mine is the only holding tank on the dock that doesn't stink in summer time.
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Old 28-09-2013, 13:26   #9
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I have worked with "Red Fox" style units for many years. It is basically an above ground septic system without a leech field.


According to what i have read, the latest in pool filtration uses diatomaceous earth and may be a solution to the suspended solids portion of the equation.
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Old 28-09-2013, 13:40   #10
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Re: Sewage treatment systems

An additional consideration is that, although you are not in a NDZ, a marina you stay in might insist that you do not discharge treated waste. That is the case where I am currently staying. When I asked the harbormaster why -- he replied that because treatment systems can fail they need to be test yearly and no one does that. However, after some further discussions, he also said that his problem was that it is impossible to tell the difference between a treated and untreated discharge. They are both brown and when fellow boaters observe them they gets reported and he has to do something.

The bottom line is that you will need a holding tank system anyway. If you don't already have a holding tank my recommendation is to go for the largest tank you can install that will allow both gravity overboard discharge and deck pump-out.

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Old 28-09-2013, 14:05   #11
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Exactly my point. I have 2 holding tanks and have considered a Lectrasan style addition to it.

My hesitancy stems from that fact that these systems kill the bacteria but do not address suspended solids. The brown stuff in the water.
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Old 28-09-2013, 19:56   #12
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Re: Sewage treatment systems

[QUOTE=Cap Erict3;1351772...
My hesitancy stems from that fact that these systems kill the bacteria but do not address suspended solids. The brown stuff in the water.[/QUOTE]

Don't confuse the discharge from a tank being dumped with the discharge from an ElectroScan, LectraSan or PuraSan...there is no "brown stuff" in the discharge from any of them. And the law DOES address suspended solids...requiring 'em to be macerated to "No visible solids"--far more liquified than any macerator pump or macerating toilet can do to waste just passing through them, which is why the macerating/treatment cycle in a treatment device runs for two full minutes...'cuz that's how long it takes to meet the standard. The discharge is also so diluted by flush water, and so "bleached" by the chlorine that the best description of the discharge is, skim milk that's been cut at least 50% with water, to which MAYBE 1/4 teaspoon of instant coffee has been added--which is a miniscule amount in 2-4 liters of waste water--and then it's diluted even more as it enters the water. It's just a milky cloud that's so close to unnoticeable that it can be used in any anchorage, even in the slip.
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Old 28-09-2013, 20:53   #13
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To my knowledge, diluted fecal matter is still fecal matter and cannot be released in NDZ's.

It sounds as if your profession is selling these units. Do you sell units suitable for Non-discharge Zones that are suited to small pleasure craft?
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Old 28-09-2013, 21:47   #14
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I should point out that I am dissatisfied with having a unit that just meets Type 1 MSD standards but at present I don't have a better method.

I hoping to see a rubber tree go by.
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Old 28-09-2013, 21:49   #15
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Re: Sewage treatment systems

No one is claiming that treated waste can be discharged in NDZs...but more than half the coastal waters, and most of the navigable inland river system are NOT NDZs...and therefore waters in which the discharge of treated waste from a USCG certified Type I or Type II MSD is most assuredly legal.

I don't sell anything, any more...I sold my company years ago. All I have to offer these days is free advice and information that I do my best to make sure is accurate. The only units suitable for use in No-discharge Zones by small pleasure craft or any other type of vessel are systems that store waste aboard--holding tanks, portapotties, "composters," and incinerating toilets (trust me, you do NOT want one of those!).

In the early 90s, Congressman Jim Saxton (R-NJ, now retired) introduced bills in the House of Representatives for 5 consecutive years that would have reduced the allowable bacteria levels from the current 1000/100 ml for Type I and 200/100 ml for Type II to 10/100ml for both and also reduce allowable BOD and suspended particulate matter...and would allow any vessel equipped with a device that met his proposed standard to use it in all waters, including NDZs. The environmental lobby never let any of the 5 bills even make it out of committee. He finally gave up.
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