On sites where various limiting factors such as unsatisfactory soils or minimum horizontal isolation limitations prevent the installation of a treatment system that utilizes ground absorption and evaporation for treated effluent dispersal, a stream discharge system is a last, but not necessarily a worst case option. The DEP standards for a stream discharge system as you might imagine are pretty strict. Before the water is permitted to flow to the high quality waterways the sewage must be treated to the point that it is odor free and bacteria free. A permit to install a stream discharge system is applied for directly thru PA DEP. Before a site can be considered for this type of system, all other options must be exhausted. It can take from one to two years to obtain a permit from time of application. There are quite a few manufacturers that provide system components and technology. Orenco Advan-tex and Norweco are two manufacturers that can deliver a complete package. Final treatment typically consists of either a chlorination unit or an ultraviolet light to kill all remaining bacteria. This type of system always requires an operation and maintenance contract with a qualified service provider, and annual discharge quality testing by a licensed lab.
Untreated Stream Discharge Systems
Unfortunately this is exactly what thousands of homes in our communities have for a septic system today. Design standards and Quality control are quite strict today but thirty years ago this was not the case, and many home owners are trying to squeak by as long as possible and do what they feel they need to do to keep the toilet flushing. Given the cost of a typical permitted repair one can hardly blame them, however the more of these old leaking and discharging septic systems we get repaired or replaced, the cleaner our drinking water, our fishing streams, and our outdoor environment will become.