A wastewater treatment system accepts wastewater from your home, cleans it and sends clean water back to the environment (usually into a soil absorption system such as a leach field). The advantage of this process is that the systems do the purification work ordinarily accomplished by the soil, which therefore allows smaller, shallower and less obtrusive drain fields. Additionally, pretreatment greatly extends the life of a drain field since clean water deters solids and biological buildup in your soil absorption system.
Usually local regulations and soil conditions of your property may dictate the need for a treatment (sometimes called “pretreatment”) system. In some areas, treatment is required by rules and regulations to reduce nutrients such as nitrogen or phosphorus from your waste stream as protection against contamination of ground water and water bodies.
Traditional septic tanks and cesspools were not designed to treat wastewater, but merely to safely dispose of it. In fact a cesspool is nothing more than a reinforced hole in the ground that funnels untreated waste directly into our groundwater. Septic tanks are little better, as they’re only designed to separate solid waste from liquid waste before it’s discharged into a leaching pool that likewise funnels untreated wastewater directly into our groundwater. These are Roman-era technologies that are not suitable to the fragile ecology of Long Island, yet approximately 75% of homes in Suffolk dispose of their wastewater via a cesspool/septic tank – more than anywhere else in the country. I/A OWTS systems are specially designed to remove nitrogen from wastewater, generally by means of nitrogen-consuming bacteria that converts the nitrogen in wastewater into nitrogen gas.
In recognition of the fact that our reliance on cesspools/septic tanks are the primary culprit behind the nitrogen pollution that is plaguing our local waterbodies, many Towns and Villages in Suffolk County are requiring the installation of I/A OWTS systems in certain circumstances. Government funding is often available to offset or cover the cost of I/A OWTS installation, making it cheaper or at least comparable to the cost of installing a traditional septic tank.