Newman Lake Advanced Wastewater Treatment Pilot Study
Aug 11, 2023
Innovative Technology Installed and Being Tested to Improve Water Quality
Poor water quality has been a widespread, long-term issue impacting property owners around Newman Lake. Previous studies have shown that stormwater runoff and inadequate septic systems are contributing to elevated nitrogen and phosphorus levels in Newman Lake. Nitrogen and phosphorus are essential for plant and animal growth, but too much of these nutrients can have adverse effects on human health and the environment. Most of the phosphorus loading at Newman Lake is in the form of biological reactive phosphorus and is readily available for immediate algal uptake upon reaching the lake.
Our work at Newman Lake has shown that septic systems contribute to high levels of phosphorus and nitrogen, causing frequent water quality issues such as excessive algae and aquatic plant growth. This project will allow monitoring of the wastewater when discharged from the enhanced treatment systems.
Spokane Conservation District is collaborating with the Washington State Department of Ecology, Spokane County, and local property owners to improve the health of Newman Lake by finding an alternative to failing septic systems. A pilot project, aimed at installing small-scale enhanced treatment upgrades for two sites in Honeymoon Bay. This state-of-the-art technology has been shown to be far more effective at protecting public health and water quality than the systems currently in use.
The image above provides a start-to-finish overview of how the program works.
Ready to schedule a site visit?
You may also reach out to Lindsay@SpokaneCD.org
In 2020 and 2021, Newman Lake residents, the Washington Department of Ecology (DOE) and the Spokane Conservation District collaborated to improve the quality of water of the Lake by conducting a pilot study to determine alternatives to the current failing septic systems. This project designed, installed, and monitored two (2) small enhanced treatment systems from two different manufacturers as part of a pilot study at Honeymoon Bay. The main objective of the pilot study was to determine the broader feasibility of using these enhanced systems to help improve wastewater treatment capabilities to replace failing or aging septic systems. These types of MBR systems have been shown in the past to remove up to 97.9% nitrogen, 98.1% phosphorous, and 99.99% fecal coliforms. Defined under WAC 173-219, reclaimed water can be achieved by these systems for beneficial reuse. See PHASE 1 REPORT HERE.
A major finding of Phase I is that neither system outperformed the other in a way that could exclude one from consideration. Instead, the overall solid performance of both provides options as more systems are explored and brought online around the lake. The overall goal is to reduce phosphorus and improve water quality. Both systems can play a part in achieving that end goal. Each site evaluated, will determine which system will best fit the needs of the homeowner, providing the SCD, and septic designers with multiple tools in the tool box to improve water quality.
The Spokane Conservation District received funding from the Department of Ecology for Phase II of this project, which will involve installing up to ten additional enhanced wastewater treatment systems around Newman Lake as an expansion of the pilot study. Phase I of the pilot study was limited to applying MBR systems in primary residences only and in Phase II we would like to install these in seasonal homes as well as explore more innovative and compact wastewater treatment options. Implementing these systems at a broad scale will improve the overall contaminant loading in the Lake as well as better the understanding and limitations for installation of these systems in other shoreline and near shoreline locations. We encourage applicants from both single-family homes, and groups of homes that are willing to share legal easements with their neighbors for clustered systems.
If you would like to be considered for a system, please fill out this APPLICATION FORM.
What Type of Systems Will be Installed?
These systems use membrane bioreactor technology to separate coarse biodegradable material before pumping wastewater to an aeration section, where remaining organic matter breaks down. Treated wastewater then passes through microfiltration membranes to eliminate suspended material and bacteria, achieving treatment levels many times greater than a standard septic system.
How Much Will this Cost?
Homeowners who are interested in installing a system will be eligible for both grant and loan funding. These systems will be required to be monitored for the life of the pilot study. For more details, please contact Jeff Cunningham to discuss loan terms and eligibility.
How Does This Affect Me?
Poor water quality caused by septic systems has been a widespread, long-term issue impacting property owners around Newman Lake. This is the next step in a multi-phase process to improve both water quality at Newman Lake, as well as provide waste treatment options for properties around the lake that need improvement.
Read the full report here.
Who Can I Contact for More Information?
• Lindsay Chutas (Program Manager) – Spokane Conservation District – Lindsay@SpokaneCD.org – 509-535-7274
• Jeff Cunningham (Financial Manager) – Spokane Conservation District – Jeff@SpokaneCD.org
• Seth Elsen – Washington Department of Ecology – Seth.firstname.lastname@example.org – 360-407-6703