When disposal opportunities dwindled for Wisconsin pumper Troy Kruser, he tapped a local farmer for an environmentally sustainable option to store and land-apply septage.


Some pumpers may lie awake at night dreaming of diverting half of the waste they pump from the treatment plant to a more convenient and economical disposal solution. Troy Kruser, of Kruser Septic Service in Dickeyville, Wis., is doing something about it.

It’s been a seven-year journey, but Kruser is ready to flip the switch on a new septage injection system that will safely put a million gallons of waste into the ground to fertilize farm crops rather than having to truck it to a dwindling number of treatment plants in the region that will accept it.

ADDING TO A FATHER’S LEGACY

Septage storage is the latest step for Kruser Septic Service as Troy Kruser continues to build the family business started by his father, Wayne, 29 years ago. “My dad got me started about 23 years ago. I had moved away and went to school for a couple of years. He got so busy that I came back home and started working for him and it went from there.”

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In addition to residential septic work, Kruser cleans manure pits and grease traps, provides drain work, televising, waterjetting, locating and root cutting. It’s a varied business to serve the needs of his small-town neighbors out of a 60- by 80-foot shop in far southwest Wisconsin. Along with Kruser, Dale Griffin and Justin Mayer do work in the field while Tina Mergen runs the office with part-time assistance from her sister-in-law Kayla Mergen. Wayne stops in now and then to help out.

Kruser just added a new 2013 septic service rig, something the business tries to do every few years. The new International vacuum truck from Advance Pump & Equipment has a 4,000-gallon aluminum tank that complements a 2007 rig from Advance that has a 4,800-gallon aluminum tank. Both have Demag-Wittig vacuum pumps from Gardner Denver. The two vehicles are on the road every day.

Kruser’s water jetter is from Sewer Equipment Company of America. He recently put the unit on a new truck chassis and added a larger 1,680-gallon aluminum tank. “We do a lot of remote work on farm manure lines where we need extra water,” he explains. Other regular jobs include the typical municipal sewer line work and flushing culverts under rural roads for the county.

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With a long history and established reputation, Kruser doesn’t spend much time marketing the business. New accounts come mainly through word-of-mouth from regular customers.

“When I got involved, we created a computerized database to schedule service so we either just go out and do the work or at least contact them when they are due. That’s phenomenal because we have constant work just doing those that are scheduled.”

FEW DUMPING OPTIONS

Land-injecting septage twice a year will significantly reduce the burden of disposal for his company. “We haul 2 to 3 million gallons a year,” Kruser says. He says it’s not so much the cost of septage disposal that prompted his farmland injection plan. He was running out of options for places to take the waste and the daily demands of trucking it were mounting for a company with only four workers.

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“Our towns around here are so small so the treatment plants are small. Most of them can’t take septage but it still has to be hauled every day,” Kruser explains of the challenge he was facing.

And the plants that accept septage aren’t always available to their trucks, such as the closest one 15 miles away. “We can’t always haul to them. Right now phosphorous is the big thing with wastewater plants, so you can’t haul to a plant if their levels are already too high.” The next closest is a 35-mile trip one way – which adds at least an hour to every workday. Along with saving time and fuel, Kruser expects land injection will also reduce maintenance needs on his trucks.

FACE THE CHANGES

Since taking over the family business 10 years ago, Kruser says the pumping work has stayed steady or improved a little, allowing for revenue growth by expanding the service menu with additional specialties.

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“We’ve stayed real busy,” Kruser says. “I don’t want to get much bigger, but I’m on the verge of hiring another person. You can’t let the work sit; you have to keep going.”

Kruser’s 500,000-gallon Harvestore tank, designed for manure storage, sits on a nearby dairy farm. After noticing the tank was unused, he approached the farmer with his plan and they reached an agreement in which Kruser rents the storage tank, 80 feet across by 15 feet high, and 84 acres of cropland used to grow animal feed such as corn. The farm owner will continue to work the fields.

Wisconsin law allows septage injection or land application only on farmland owned or leased by the applier, and the storage tank must be located on the same parcel. “Ideally, I would own the farm,” says Kruser. “But I don’t have a couple million dollars for that.”

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The storage tank has been recertified for holding septage and the farmland was certified for accepting septage four years ago. “The [Wisconsin] Department of Natural Resources has been really great and easy to work with,” he says. “It was just getting through the right channels. The DNR is pretty busy, so sometimes it takes a while to get approvals.”

He was also required to install a berm around the facility in case of a spill. While not required, he has decided to incorporate lime into the septage to prevent nuisance odors that could bother neighbors and potentially draw complaints to threaten the operation.

The injection operation has been slowed somewhat by red tape, but surprisingly, the biggest barrier has been engineering the storage system. He suggests pumpers planning for injection disposal select an engineering firm with experience in the field.

ADDING UP THE BILL

Total costs of the project will be about $250,000. But it could have been much higher if he had gone with the original engineering design that called for a large pump to fill and empty the storage tank. The pump alone carried a price tag of $75,000, along with $25,000 in installation costs and $50,000 in new three-phase electrical service. Instead, Kruser will turn to his existing equipment to convey the waste from the storage tank to the injector. “I already have pumps on my trucks that will do the same thing running off a PTO,” he says.

The septage must be applied under a state-required nutrient management plan. The septage will be spread through umbilical slurry injection, which he plans to hire out to a contractor. Injection can take place mainly from spring to fall when there is no frost in the ground. He chose injection over land application because of smaller required setbacks from wells, surface water and buildings.

Kruser will track the amount of septage applied per acre, the amount of nitrogen added to the soil and an accounting of crops grown in an annual land application report. The enhanced reporting and other paperwork associated with the process is another reason for Kruser Septic to add another person to the staff.

Kruser sees the end of the disposal transformation on the horizon. “It’s a lengthy process and it has stretched out,” he says. “Some of it was due to me making changes to the project.’’ ■Some pumpers may lie awake at night dreaming of diverting half of the waste they pump from the treatment plant to a more convenient and economical disposal solution. Troy Kruser, of Kruser Septic Service in Dickeyville, Wis., is doing something about it.

It’s been a seven-year journey, but Kruser is ready to flip the switch on a new septage injection system that will safely put a million gallons of waste into the ground to fertilize farm crops rather than having to truck it to a dwindling number of treatment plants in the region that will accept it.

ADDING TO A FATHER’S LEGACY

Septage storage is the latest step for Kruser Septic Service as Troy Kruser continues to build the family business started by his father, Wayne, 29 years ago. “My dad got me started about 23 years ago. I had moved away and went to school for a couple of years. He got so busy that I came back home and started working for him and it went from there.”

In addition to residential septic work, Kruser cleans manure pits and grease traps, provides drain work, televising, waterjetting, locating and root cutting. It’s a varied business to serve the needs of his small-town neighbors out of a 60- by 80-foot shop in far southwest Wisconsin. Along with Kruser, Dale Griffin and Justin Mayer do work in the field while Tina Mergen runs the office with part-time assistance from her sister-in-law Kayla Mergen. Wayne stops in now and then to help out.

Kruser just added a new 2013 septic service rig, something the business tries to do every few years. The new International vacuum truck from Advance Pump & Equipment has a 4,000-gallon aluminum tank that complements a 2007 rig from Advance that has a 4,800-gallon aluminum tank. Both have Demag-Wittig vacuum pumps from Gardner Denver. The two vehicles are on the road every day.

Kruser’s water jetter is from Sewer Equipment Company of America. He recently put the unit on a new truck chassis and added a larger 1,680-gallon aluminum tank. “We do a lot of remote work on farm manure lines where we need extra water,” he explains. Other regular jobs include the typical municipal sewer line work and flushing culverts under rural roads for the county.

With a long history and established reputation, Kruser doesn’t spend much time marketing the business. New accounts come mainly through word-of-mouth from regular customers.

“When I got involved, we created a computerized database to schedule service so we either just go out and do the work or at least contact them when they are due. That’s phenomenal because we have constant work just doing those that are scheduled.”

FEW DUMPING OPTIONS

Land-injecting septage twice a year will significantly reduce the burden of disposal for his company. “We haul 2 to 3 million gallons a year,” Kruser says. He says it’s not so much the cost of septage disposal that prompted his farmland injection plan. He was running out of options for places to take the waste and the daily demands of trucking it were mounting for a company with only four workers.

“Our towns around here are so small so the treatment plants are small. Most of them can’t take septage but it still has to be hauled every day,” Kruser explains of the challenge he was facing.

And the plants that accept septage aren’t always available to their trucks, such as the closest one 15 miles away. “We can’t always haul to them. Right now phosphorous is the big thing with wastewater plants, so you can’t haul to a plant if their levels are already too high.” The next closest is a 35-mile trip one way – which adds at least an hour to every workday. Along with saving time and fuel, Kruser expects land injection will also reduce maintenance needs on his trucks.

FACE THE CHANGES

Since taking over the family business 10 years ago, Kruser says the pumping work has stayed steady or improved a little, allowing for revenue growth by expanding the service menu with additional specialties.

“We’ve stayed real busy,” Kruser says. “I don’t want to get much bigger, but I’m on the verge of hiring another person. You can’t let the work sit; you have to keep going.”

Kruser’s 500,000-gallon Harvestore tank, designed for manure storage, sits on a nearby dairy farm. After noticing the tank was unused, he approached the farmer with his plan and they reached an agreement in which Kruser rents the storage tank, 80 feet across by 15 feet high, and 84 acres of cropland used to grow animal feed such as corn. The farm owner will continue to work the fields.

Wisconsin law allows septage injection or land application only on farmland owned or leased by the applier, and the storage tank must be located on the same parcel. “Ideally, I would own the farm,” says Kruser. “But I don’t have a couple million dollars for that.”

The storage tank has been recertified for holding septage and the farmland was certified for accepting septage four years ago. “The [Wisconsin] Department of Natural Resources has been really great and easy to work with,” he says. “It was just getting through the right channels. The DNR is pretty busy, so sometimes it takes a while to get approvals.”

He was also required to install a berm around the facility in case of a spill. While not required, he has decided to incorporate lime into the septage to prevent nuisance odors that could bother neighbors and potentially draw complaints to threaten the operation.

The injection operation has been slowed somewhat by red tape, but surprisingly, the biggest barrier has been engineering the storage system. He suggests pumpers planning for injection disposal select an engineering firm with experience in the field.

ADDING UP THE BILL

Total costs of the project will be about $250,000. But it could have been much higher if he had gone with the original engineering design that called for a large pump to fill and empty the storage tank. The pump alone carried a price tag of $75,000, along with $25,000 in installation costs and $50,000 in new three-phase electrical service. Instead, Kruser will turn to his existing equipment to convey the waste from the storage tank to the injector. “I already have pumps on my trucks that will do the same thing running off a PTO,” he says.

The septage must be applied under a state-required nutrient management plan. The septage will be spread through umbilical slurry injection, which he plans to hire out to a contractor. Injection can take place mainly from spring to fall when there is no frost in the ground. He chose injection over land application because of smaller required setbacks from wells, surface water and buildings.

Kruser will track the amount of septage applied per acre, the amount of nitrogen added to the soil and an accounting of crops grown in an annual land application report. The enhanced reporting and other paperwork associated with the process is another reason for Kruser Septic to add another person to the staff.

Kruser sees the end of the disposal transformation on the horizon. “It’s a lengthy process and it has stretched out,” he says. “Some of it was due to me making changes to the project.’’

MORE INFORMATION

Advance Pump & Equipment, Inc. - 877/557-7867 - www.advancepump.com

Gardner Denver - 217/222-5400 - www.gardnerdenverproducts.com

Sewer Equipment - 800/323-1604 - www.sewerequipment.com


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