Marsh Ensign Sewage Treatment Plant

The following post is taken unedited from an email received from one of our clients. We normally publish short extracts of customer testimonials on our main site. Given the detail provide by Mr. Clements we have decided to publish the whole letter, warts and all. Where appropriate, we have taken the opportunity to link to the relevant pages on our site.

MTM Civils and Environmentals have just installed a 25PE Marsh Ensign Sewage Treatment Plant situated within the curtilage of our property but which also serves 5 other neighbouring cottages. This system replaces an old septic tank and soakaway which was no longer working efficiently. Although the new system has only been in operation for over a week, it seems to be working well and the whole installation process was completed in a highly professional manner.

Tony came out to quote for the works back in March and we were impressed with his knowledge and expertise in gauging what would be appropriate for our situation. He recommended a Marsh Ensign system and later submitted a quotation which was detailed and transparent. Although not the cheapest quote we received, we eventually offered MTM the work because we were satisfied they would do an excellent installation.

I say ‘eventually’ because choosing the make and type of Sewage Treatment Plant was very difficult. Obviously, when spending a considerable sum of money you want to ensure you are getting the most appropriate system for your situation. It’s not like buying a car, you can’t test drive a system first and neither is it easy to get any independent, objective reports unlike the Motor Industry. Manufacturers within the sewage industry will make extravagant claims about their system and quote all sorts of figures to show theirs is the best- facts and figures about the strength of materials used, the quality of their manufacturing methods, the effluent quality, the certificates they hold, the superiority of their warranty etc. They also tend to rubbish and dismiss the opposition as completely flawed. There needs to a lot more honesty and clarity in the industry because at the moment it is so difficult for the consumer to make an informed choice. Most contractors like MTM will promote only a few manufactures because this is in their interests as ‘qualified installers’. But I think it would be really helpful for a company like MTM to be really knowledgeable about all the various makes and to act more like consultants offering truly independent advice. Tony, to his credit, admitted from the outset that his main experience was with Marsh and he was confident that the system was good but as I said we wanted independent advice. We spent many hours finding out how the Marsh system stacked up against the opposition and eventually concluded that the Marsh Ensign was the best for our situation. OK rant over!!

The installation was completed in July and took a week in total. I can not praise the two guys employed through MTM highly enough. Jason and Scott worked like trojans and were thoroughly professional and competent in everything they did. Access to our property was somewhat difficult as an approach had to be made through a neighbouring field, a stream traversed and openings made in fences but nothing was too difficult for them. They were polite, cheerful, prepared to explain what they were doing and prepared to listen to any concerns we had. We fully expected the garden to look like a car crash afterwards but everything was reinstated and levelled so that all that was needed at the end was a rake over and some seeding. They were splendid ambassadors for the company.

Would we recommend MTM to others? Undoubtedly. ( but hope they might take on board some of the advice above)

Would we recommend the Marsh Ensign? Well its too early to judge really. As yet it works perfectly. It is quiet and there is no odour but we will have a better idea of performance after a year.

Nigel Clements


July 2014.

So there you have it. A thorough, unedited, customer review of how we installed the Marsh Ensign sewage treatment plant for a customer in Somerset. Our thanks to Nigel Clements for diligently providing his honest feedback.

Farm Accidents in the News

Farming accidents have been in the news. At the weekend Country File, a BBC TV programme, featured a long section on the accident record of the farming industry. A surprising fact is that although agriculture employs just 2% of the UK workforce it accounts for 20% of serious industrial injuries and deaths. According to the programme, almost one per week. This has hardly improved over the last 20 years. A terrible record compared to other industries such as construction, where serious accidents have halved over the same period.

Slurry tanks

Slurry Tanks - Emit Poison Gases

Slurry Tanks – Emit Poison Gases

The TV programme covered a number of risk areas. Such as falling from roofs or getting trapped in machinery. Cases related to the waste industry have caused by slurry pits. Or more precisely death caused by the poisonous gases given off. One high profile slurry pit death involved a famous Irish rugby player. The Health and Safety Executive of Northern Ireland has reported almost a death per month from similar accidents. And that is within a population of just 1.6 million.

Accident Cover

Accidents do happen, in spite of safety precautions. Of course not all accidents are life threatening. Many may mean a loss of work or income. A specialist personal accident insurance has created a policy specifically aimed at the agriculture industry.

The Health and Safety ExecuTive

The HSE is responsible for industrial safety. They have recently started a programme of working with the National Farmers Union to tackle the problem. This is focussing on changing attitudes towards working with farming machinery, working at heights and working outside. A related issue is that farm workers often work alone. This means that when an accident occurs help often takes some time before it arrives.

Flood Levels Present Problems for Drainage Systems

The persistent winter rainfall experienced across southern England is presenting particular problems for drainage even when no apparent flooding has taken place.

The flooding in the Somerset Levels and the Thames Valley has grabbed the attention of the headlines and politicians but there are less spectacular problems associated with drainage across a much wider area.

In our own local area a pub was closed for three weeks when the rising level of ground water prevented the pubs sewage system from functioning properly. The pub in question relies on mains drainage. Properties that are reliant on non-mains drainage are not only more susceptible to drainage problems but are entirely responsible for sorting out any problems.

The persistent rain has raised the natural water table levels, this can effective many septic tank soakaway systems. If the water table raises above the base of a soakaway then it cannot function correctly.

What then happens :-

1. The sewage entering the septic system still flows in and and also has added flows if drain pipes leak etc due to the excessive ground water, this puts extra pressure on the soakaway, which is not partly or totally ineffective because there is no sub-soil below it in which to allow soakage.

2. the septic system starts to fill above its normal operating levels, solids tend to now move from there holding position more into the outlet area and in turn into the soakaway. The solids can then contaminate the soakaway system, thus reducing its effectiveness even further.

3. The septic system fills to even high levels, the foul drain pipes back up, sewage can then emerge through manholes and gullies around the home leading to pollution.

4. The septic effluent can also raise through the soil and garden areas through the top of the soakaway and through the access covers of the septic tank itself.

5. Areas in flooded locations are now becoming polluted with septic effluent, with little sign of any improvement in current weather conditions heath issues are becoming more of a concern.

6. If pollution levels are high then home owners may be forced to leave their homes as a result of septic contamination.

7. Long term prevention – Install systems that are water tight, including all drainage pipework and have a pumped outlet to may be a raised soakaway location, a sewage treatment plant will also produce much cleaner treated effluent that can reduce contamination issues in wet weather flooded areas.

Sewage treatment maintenace in the bad weather

The UK has been under seige from the torrential rain and harsh winds that have battered the country for weeks now. Many MTM Environmental customers have been effected by the conditions with trees falling, electric supplies disrupted and damage to property, it seems the maintenance bill following the storms will likely be huge for many.

It’s important not to forget your sewage treatment equipment and septic tank at this time of year – in fact as my post in November 2012 (Winter considerations for your septic tank) explains – the colder weather can cause damage to the equipment, making it important to remember your annual maintenance checks before the frost sets in.

Completing interior DIY projects is one of the most popular passtimes in the New year, so many gardens in the UK become neglected and looking at the images on recent news reports it’s no wonder when most seem to be saturated with water!

However, this doesn’t mean a septic tank maintenance should be put to one side – in most cases our engineers will still be able to access report and maintain systems in effected places. It’s always better to ensure that the system is running efficiently and safely that wait for more issues saused by low temperatures and snow.

For more information on septic tank and sewage treatment maintenance for your home or business or just to check whether or not your system can still be accessed following damage to your property, please contact us.

Replacing a Dudley Turbo 88 Toilet Syphon

Over the Christmas holiday I was forced to repair a toilet cistern. The cistern was in a 1990s style bathroom and was built into a wooden surround. Luckily the cistern could be accessed via a small hatch.

My first step was compare the non-working cistern with a similar cistern in another bathroom. I quickly ascertained that the problem was with the toilet syphon. I managed to read the syphon component details and established that it was a Dudley Turbo 88. I put this information into Google and established that a number of online suppliers including ebay stocked the product with prices ranging from £16 to £29. The problem was that we were approaching Christmas and needed to guarantee that I could get the replacement syphon in time for Christmas. Luckily the syphon was available via Plumb Centre, who had a local branch.

Replacing a Dudley Turbo 8800 Toilet Syphon

Replacing a Dudley Turbo 8800 Toilet Syphon

The next problem was the removal and installation process. Luckily, searching on Google I found a YouTube video produced by Ultimate Handyman that covered this process from start to finish.

The 22 minute video covered each aspect of the syphon removal and replacement process in a logical manner. Most importantly, however, was that the video referred specifically to the Dudley Turbo 88 syphon. This is a premium plumbing product and as such is much easier to install than cheaper generic products. The key to the ease of installation is that the Dudley syphon uses a yellow pin – see top centre of the image above – that separates the moving parts of the syphon from the main downpipe. This makes installation so much easier as only the syphon rather than the whole assembly needs replacing. Had I not watched the Ultimate Handy video I would have endeavoured to replace the whole unit.

The Dudley Turbo 88 comes in several sizes between 7 and 10 inches. I needed the 10 inch version and this was in stock at my local Plumb Centre at a price of £22.50. The 10 inch version is slightly harder to install, given the cramped nature of the location of the cistern within the built in toilet surround. The whole job took a total of 30 minutes including testing. I am extremely grateful to the Ultimate Handyman video as without it I would have spent much longer figuring out my plan of attack.

Sewage treatment facility in Slough going green!

I was interested to see more ways that larger scale sewage treatment facilities are being utilised for recycling and greener purposes, especially after my post regarding the recycling of CD’s last month.

A Sewage Treatment facility in Berkshire is being used to create phosphate thanks to the unique make up of the waste water being sent to it by residents and workers.

A report earlier this month in the Daily Mail claims that:

“A new £2million sewage treatment facility is turning our waste into super fertiliser that could help secure future global food supplies.”

Reading the story in more detail it seems the plant utilises the phosphorus from the sewage to create fertilizer than can be used by crop growers here in the UK.

At present we (the UK) import 38 tonnes of fertilizer a year from other countries, so there are obviously benefits to the economy of using the facility this way.

Each year 150 tonnes of the special fertilizer will be created by the plant based in Slough . The chemical is said to be critical in the growth of crops, but it is thought that demand will overtake supply possibilities around the year 2030 as stock of the typically mined substabce starts to decline. This renewable way of creating the phosphate is therefore going to be welcomed by the agriculture industry, for whom a decline in supply would likely effect greatly.

The full report completed on the 5th November – It’s viagra for plants – can be found on the Daily Mail website.

Sewage treatment to breathe NEW life into OLD cd’s?

Researchers are always looking for new and innovative ways to make existing technologies more efficient, whether this is by upping their output, introducing money-saving materials and parts or simply by making the systems more environmentally friendly in order to reduce their carbon footprint. There is always an abundance of research taking place for these purposes.

Interestingly, It has been widely reported recently that Taiwanese researchers have found a new and innovative way of utilising old compact discs (CD’s) as part of the sewage treatment process. The researchers are said to have come up with a way of using the discs to grow zinc oxide – an element that is known for its properties that make it capable of breaking down the solids in the treatment process.

In my opinion, anything that assists the industry in creating more efficient ways of treating sewage whilst utilising materials that would otherwise be junk or obsolete has to be a good thing, although reading the various reports available online it seems that the technology itself is a long way from being utilised on a day to day basis, i’m sure researchers will find a way of utilising it eventually. More information can be seen on the report by clicking here.

In the meantime, old research means that MTM engineers are able to offer several different systems that are built to suit the varying needs of our customers. For more information contact MTM Environmental, where we can talk to you about the varying systems and the best options for your home or business.

Sewage treatment bill at Niagara Falls expected to exceed $2 million!

The Buffalo News (a publication from across the pond) has been reporting that following a storm in July, costs to repair damage to areas of the New York state areas sewage treatment facility could run into more than $2 million dollars.

Reports suggest that more than 25 million gallons of untreated sewage has been leaking into the Niagara River since the damage was caused by a storm last month. Fierce rainfall over the Friday and Saturday nights had resulted in flooding to many areas and was said to have ‘overwhelmed’ the citys pumps. Several towns besides Niagra have been effected by the damage, including the neighbouring villages and boroughs.

Although the damage happened a few weeks ago, the effects and timescale that the repairs are expected to take will mean there is likely to be an effect on local residents for some time.

Of course, plants like these are built to provide treatment on a grand scale for hundreds of thousands of households, although the principal of ‘treatment’ is still the same and if the facility was to fail, the environmental and practical issues would be raised as for a private sewage treatment plant.

As always, maintaining your own sewage treatment is important for the same reasons. Although many plants fail because of age and general degredation, freak weather and highs or lows in temperatures can also have an effect on the systems. Having them checked on a minimum annual basis can assist with ensuring your system is fully prepared for extremes like this and reduces the risk of plant failure.

More information and the full report along with a video surrounding the issue can be found on the Buffalo News Website.

Sewage treatment the subject matter of American novel!

American national press are reporting that author John Metcalfe (also known as Dodge Winston) is releasing a new novel about a sewage treatment plant!

Sound odd doesn’t it? But on reading more information about the thriller I can understand why there might be an appeal.

The Wastewater Plant Novel

The Wastewater Plant Novel

Having worked in a wastewater treatment plant in America he claims that the location has as much atmostphere as a ‘CSI set’. The book is a thriller (titled Wastewater Plant) and hosts the story of a monster that utilises the wastewater plant itself as a location to scare employees.

A team of workers (with political issues between themselves to consider) are placed in a quandary over the monster with the abridgement asking whether or not they will “wise up enough to work together and survive”?

I hadn’t heard of the author or his previous selection of novels before reading about this book – it seems he is a popular writer within the USA.

For those brave enough to want to know more, the original report online can be read on The Grist website or you can read more about it from the author himself on his blog.

National press are reporting that author John Metcalfe (also known as Dodge Winston) is releasing a new novel about a sewage treatment plant!

Sound odd doesn’t it? But on reading more information about the thriller I can understand why there might be an appeal.

Having worked in a wastewater treatment plant in America he claims that the location has as much atmostphere as a ‘CSI set’. The book is a thriller (titled Wastewater Plant) and hosts the story of a monster that utilises the wastewater plant itself as a location to scare employees.

A team of employees (with political work issues to consider) are placed in a quandary over the monster with the abridgement asking whether or not they will “wise up enough to work together and survive”?

I hadn’t heard of the author or his previous selection of novels before reading about this book – it seems he is a popular writer within the USA.

For those brave enough to want to know more, the original report online can be read on The Grist website or you can read more about it from the author himself on his blog.

Septic tank consideration in the poor weather

Over in America there have been advisory reports on local press websites on how residents can safely maintain their septic tanks and sewage treatment plants following the bad weather.

Following adverse weather in the state of Virginia, one local publication has given some guidance online, asking residents that own such systems to:

Check and determine if any erosion or other damage may have occured to the system

Any instances of damage should be checked and rectified before further damage or problems with the system are encountered

Consider that the system might be running slower as a result of the bad weather

Here in the UK we are luckier with the weather, although this doesn’t rule out tank and system damage like this as a result of heavy rainfall, snow or other conditions.

MTM drains can provide the type of inspection and maintenance services mentioned in this news report, which for many people it is not really possible to undertake without specialist equipment and trained engineers.

Regular maintenance and inspections of tanks and systems are an important part of its life and ensuring they are completed should assist in keeping the system running for as long as possible.

More information on the original news report I read can be found on the South Mountain Eagle website.