Tasked with an onsite repair on a tiny lakefront lot, this installer found a solution with new technology


Facing an onsite system repair on a lakefront lot with extremely limited space and poor-quality soils, Courtney Stephenson took on a challenge.

Stephenson, owner of Atlantic Onsite Services in Holly Ridge, North Carolina, installed a membrane bioreactor treatment system from Busse Green Technologies. It was the first such system she had ever installed and the first of its kind in the state. 

“It’s the type of system where the treatment unit is actually inside the house,” says Stephenson, whose company is located midway between Wilmington and Jacksonville. “It’s revolutionary in that it saves space. In difficult applications or for small lots, it can be very helpful to have the pretreatment system indoors.”

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The home in question was on a lakeshore, where setbacks from the water imposed restrictions on a long, slender lot where space was already constrained. “The Busse system was the best solution the state could come up with to get the owners a new septic system,” Stephenson says.

Busse MF small wastewater treatment systems provide odorless operation, enabling their installation in home basements. They use a two-step pretreatment and aeration process. In the pretreatment step, biodegradable coarse material such as feces and toilet paper are dissolved, and non-dissolving components are separated from the wastewater by an aerated sieve.

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The Busse Green Technologies MBR system in the customer's garage, ready to be installed. —Photos courtesy of Courtney Stephenson


The water, cleaned of the coarse material, is pumped to the aeration section. Here, the organic matter in the wastewater is degraded biologically by microorganisms in the presence of oxygen. The water is treated physically by microfiltration using ultrafine filter membranes with 0.4 µm pore size. The membrane filters eliminate suspended material and bacteria, ensuring effluent that is clear, hygienically harmless and suitable for reuse for irrigation or flushing toilets. The treated water can also be discharged into sensitive areas.

The systems have passed the certification process of NSF International Standard 40 and 245 for the U.S. and North America. Test results demonstrate that the system removes more than 95 percent of the COD and BOD5. The certification process also showed that the microfiltration membranes can hold back all bacteria and viruses, and therefore meets the requirements of the Washington State Legislature Hygienic Standard.

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Systems can be installed and ready for service in a few hours, according to the manufacturer. Modular design makes the systems suitable for larger developments such as campgrounds and office buildings. Operation is quiet, and little maintenance is required because there is no need for constant sludge removal.

Stephenson observes, “It was a truly unique solution for a difficult situation. It created a showcase for the most advanced residential wastewater treatment system in North Carolina. Hopefully it opened a possible avenue for others to solve their difficult wastewater issues.”


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