Oct 28 2010

New England Waste Systems

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I am here to tell the people of Lumby that a new sustainable technology for treatment of wastewater, landfill leachate and sewage sludge. It’s called the New England Wastewater System and it’s being used in the USA and third world countries that struggle with pollution from resource extraction – mines and oil and even pollution from eco – tourism.

New England Wastewater Systems (NEWS) use vegetative sand beds to clean sewage sludge. Vegetative sand beds are an underground wetland system. They are dry on top – they have no smell and no mosquitoes. They are inexpensive to build. A lagoon system like the one in Lumby can easily be converted to one these systems.

Currently, a 20,000 square foot system treats 20 million gallons of landfill leachate a month in Hunter New York. The resultant water is so clean that it’s discharged into the New York City drinking watershed. Data regarding the efficacy of these systems is available for Health Officials. I have been told that it is possible to have Vegetative Sand Beds approved by Canadian Health authorities. The biggest drawback is that Health officials are more inclined to stick with the status quo expensive and inefficient systems rather that go green. I understand from speaking to people involved in upgrading septic systems that it’s important to get local Councils and elected officials supporting the new technology.

I have been in touch with Dr. Ron Levigne – President of New England Waste Systems. I asked him if he would come here to Lumby and help us create a green vision for our community. I asked him if it would be possible to develop an industry right here – learn to build these systems for other communities. Look around – every development is fraught with pollution – every lake has problems – BC is system of rivers and lakes – we are drowning in pollution.

Think of the potential demand for these systems that clean up sewage, oil and gas pollution, dump sites, industrial waste, shore line pollution. VSBs can be located right on the industrial land to offset potential sewage burdens on small community waste facilities like Lumby’s. VSBs have been used for farm waste – even fish farm waste, grey water (think about Shuswap and Mara lake and houseboats) and dumps.

Mr. Levigne said he would come here and donate his time – so I am going to raise his travel expense round trip from New York. I am certain we can arrange food and lodging. The cost of airfare from New York to here is somewhere between $500 to $600.

Two days ago the VSB brochures arrived so I delivered them to our Mayor. Last night I took the VSB information to the Cohen Commission in Kamloops – (that’s the Federal Inquiry into the decline of the Sockeye salmon). I know you are interested – I am too.

At this point, I want to introduce you to Michelle Nickerson who made a lifelong promise to speak up for wild salmon and a sustainable planet – her passion is BC wild salmon – Michelle and I will be organizing some meetings around the Vegetative Sand Beds. Together we can decide how to structure an Industry like this – A Co-op? A Corporation? A limited Liability Company? A partnership? There are a lot of hurdles to sort out but Michelle is organizer extrodinare and we will reach a consensus on those issues.

I think we can be the greenest place on Earth – a model destination for every Water conference. Everyone wants clean water and salmon and local food – The people of Lumby will develop a substantial industry around the very things we consider a problem. Right now, Michelle is canoeing down the Fraser River with Alexandra Morton but next week Michelle and I will be making and taking phone calls – everyone is invited to get in at the grass roots level.

Together we can change the world!


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  1. priscilla

    Hello Streamrambler,
    I think VSBs are the best thing ever invented – there is very little chance that suburban sprawls have the will to install compost toilets. However, VSBs provide a way for us to live with our waste without destroying the planet – human, industrial and technological waste. I hope the people of Lumby can do this – what a green business it could be. Strangely, I’ve noticed that even an NGO who opposes pollution wants to monitor pollution to prove there is pollution in order to prevent it. Meanwhile a vegetated sand bed could be installed and the water could begin the cleaning process and make the need for monitoring a thing of the past.

    Everyone wants clean water. VSBs are a simple inexpensive pollution solution! I think I’ll take this idea to the developers. We must start somewhere.
    Thanks for dropping by.


  2. streamrambler

    Sounds exciting and potentially precedent setting Priscilla, if VSB’s are as effective and affordable as you are perceiving them to be. I’ve long believed that one day composting toilets will be the norm, but that day might be a ways in the future yet. I hope VSB’s are one more piece of the puzzle that can get us closer to closed-loop production-consumption-waste systems.


  3. Marion

    I’m in awe of you, Priscilla. And I stand fully behind you. It is difficult to change thinking, but these Vegetative Sand Beds sound really promising. How wonderful it would be if it can become reality for Lumby.

    We drove through Lumby recently on our holiday, and I thought of you. The Adams (sp?) River was fabulous, with all those salmon!! It’s such a beautiful area.


    1. admin

      Hi Marion
      You know that everyone I talk to wants this type of solution. This is what we are waiting for – a chance to live on our planet so that we live with nature rather than destroy it. Sometimes the simple things are overlooked. So thanks for taking this idea with you – we can change things together.
      ps – call me next time you’re through – The Shuswap had a huge Sockeye run and now we are having a good run of Coho – they say that Adams is the “Bride” but we are the “Bride’s Maid ” – We are going to build a fish ladder so our flying salmon can go over the Dam – now that will be worth a visit. cheers


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