Septage Dewatering on a Budget

If you’re considering processing collected wastewater, these cost-effective septage dewatering products and processes can help get you started.
Septage Dewatering on a Budget
Lagoon Crawler from Nuhn Industries

Interested in Dewatering?

Get Dewatering articles, news and videos right in your inbox! Sign up now.

Dewatering + Get Alerts

With fewer municipal wastewater treatment plants accepting septage and increased regulations on land application, many pumping contractors are turning to the next best alternative — setting up their own dewatering and disposal solutions. 

As the challenges of cost-effective wastewater disposal grow, many new options are being offered for septic pumpers to process and manage collected wastewater. 

Affordable small-scale mobile units and roll-off containers are designed to handle certain waste streams municipal plants no longer accept, and manufacturers are creating more and more products tailored to your specific needs. 

When local Iowa county authorities ended all permits for land application of septage, Jody Forest, owner of Forest Septic Tank Service in Des Moines, Iowa, knew he had to come up with a more cost-effective alternative to get rid of septic waste. 

For Forest, pursuing a dewatering solution depended heavily on the cost of wastewater disposal from the process into the city sewer system. He had a septage sample taken, and then asked the wastewater authority to establish the TSS and BOD levels in the water. They were minimal, and so was the annual discharge fee, enabling Forest to continue with the project.

Forest says a stainless steel Detainer dewatering box from Atlantic Dewatering Services was the most economical — and affordable — approach for his small operation. Dewatering is definitely a worthwhile investment for small pumpers, he says. 

“I feel for a lot of the pumpers because a lot of them are in predicaments,” Forest says. “They don’t have a place to go with septage because municipal plant aren’t accepting waste or they’re having to haul it 100 miles.” 

If it’s time for your pumping operation to begin dewatering septage, we’ve cherry-picked these cost-effective products and processes to help you take septage disposal into your own hands. 

  • The horizontal sludge dewatering system from In The Round Dewatering has a stainless steel drum with perforated plastic tile lining. The drum is mounted on a roll-off frame for easy transportation and unloading. Water trays have been configured to allow for containment of discharge water. A typical batch of sludge consisting of 18,000 to 25,000 gallons is mixed with polymer before being filtered in the rotating drum. 
  • The Mobile Dewatering Truck (MDT) from ABCO Industries Limited conditions incoming sludge with a polymer, while the onboard filter system separates solids and liquids. The solids are stored in a holding chamber on the truck, while the liquid filtrate – along with its useful bacterial cargo — is returned for normal on-site treatment. 
  • The Booster Pump Trailer from Bazooka Technology is compact and has an integrated fuel tank to allow for easy mobility and transportation on and off the field. The single continuous fuel tank holds up to 250 gallons and can be filled from either side of the trailer. It is manufactured entirely from 5/16-inch steel, making it impervious to light and durable in harsh environments. 
  • The 1.7-meter, trailer-mounted belt filter press unit from Bright Technologies has an insulated control room for operator comfort and security. The control room offers insulated FRP walls, air conditioning, electric heat, a refrigerator, stainless steel desk, tool storage, locker, closed circuit TV and remote operator controls. 
  • Sludge Mate container filters from Flo Trend Systems can dewater a variety of sludge and waste such as alum, ferric, lagoon and digested sludge, septic tank, grease trap and slaughterhouse waste, wastewater residual and sump bottoms. The closed-system design provides odor control, no spillage, reduced maintenance, and weather independence. 
  • The trailer-mounted 3DP belt press from BDP Industries features machined mounting pads, a tubular steel frame, and a floor-level, independent gravity zone and vertical arrangement. High cake discharge from a pressure zone eliminates the need for platforms or stairs on the trailer. A curved wedge design applies increasing cake pressure over the entire length to effectively express filtrate. A variable-speed paddle wheel provides full belt-width distribution and uniform thickness. 
  • The screw press from FKC Co. dewaters a mixture of septage and biosolids from small commercial treatment plants to about 30 percent solids. The solids are landfilled or land-applied. Filtrate from the screw press is treated in lagoons and manmade wetlands before being spray-irrigated onto farmland. The screw press offers heavy-duty construction, a simple control system and a custom design.
  • The rotary press from Fournier Industries uses two slowly rotating screens to create a 2-inch channel that sludge passes through as it dewaters. A pressure restrictor on the outlet allows the operator to vary the degree of cake dryness in the final product. It has few components and is designed for ease of maintenance. 
  • The ALSYS skid-mounted decanter centrifuge system from Alfa Laval can be trailer-mounted for added mobility and flexibility. Automatic operation eliminates the need for continuous monitoring. A central control panel ensures trouble-free, safe operation. Pretested modules have rapid commissioning by Alfa Laval field service. 
  • The Lagoon Crawler from Nuhn Industries can be driven by remote control into a pit to perform agitation. There are two-speed hydraulic wheel drives for transporting on land and crawling out of a lagoon. It is equipped with a Cummins diesel engine (John Deere available upon request) that powers 10,000 gpm agitation. 

“It’s many pumpers’ dream,” Forest says of dewatering. “If you can pay for it, it’s worth it.” 

Forest’s passion for his dewatering facility — and the overall benefits of dewatering — is evident as he describes the process as “neat” and “cool.” 

“I never thought I could do dewatering,” he says. “But I’m a perfect example that the smaller pumper can do it.” 

The growing trend to cost-effectively dewater septage to minimize land application and to manage waste streams municipal plants no longer accept is becoming more feasible for smaller pumping operations. Specialty containers are designed to help septic haulers in dewatering and disposal applications. 

Check out these water storage tanks and roll-off containers and trailers designed for non-pumpable dewatering situations as well as sewer and other cleanouts: 

  • Flowtite water storage tanks from Containment Solutions are watertight between the access collar and the access riser, eliminating infiltration and exfiltration contamination. The access opening is typically the most vulnerable entry point for contaminants into any water storage system. 
  • Folding Frame Tanks from Husky Portable Containment are available in steel or aluminum frames with size and material options (including EXLON). Easy-Lift Handles are installed on all liners, enabling easy and quick folding and easy removal of liquids. 
  • MRK6000 Series aluminum vacuum trailers from Imperial Industries come standard with a 6,000-gallon aluminum tank (6,300-gallon units are available). They feature full-length aluminum hose trays, external ribs, three topside 20-inch aluminum manways, a 12-inch primary with a 4-inch air line, a 4-inch intake and 6-inch discharge, LED running lights and more. 
  • Polyethylene water tanks from Romotech have gallon indicators and translucent walls for level viewing. Larger rounded tanks are equipped with molded-in legs for tank support. Tank sizes range from 8 to 525 gallons. They are made from FDA-approved natural polyethylene material that is UV-stabilized for outdoor storage. 
  • Low-profile Dominator tanks from Snyder Industries can be buried without water being used for ballast and strength, and can be backfilled with native soils as long as those soils are trash-free and free-flowing. The tanks can also be used as holding tanks, and pump tank versions are also available. 
  • The ADS 30-yard dewatering unit from AQUA-Zyme Disposal Systems can be filled with 22,000 to 25,000 gallons of liquid waste at 1 to 2 percent solids in about two hours. After draining for 24 hours, the unit can be hauled to a landfill or other permitted facility for disposal. Sludge volume can be reduced by 80 percent with reductions to 98 percent in BOD, COD, FOG and TSS. 
  • The Two-Box Roll-Off Trailer from Benlee is designed to carry two 24-foot sludge, vacuum or other style roll-off containers with a gross vehicle weight rating of 80,000 pounds. The main frame is manufactured from 80,000-pound minimum yield material, and rides on 25,000-pound 102-inch-wide axles, 11R22.5 steel-belted 16-ply tires and an air-ride suspension. 
  • Roll-top roll-off sludge containers from Custom Manufacturing store and transport a wide variety of waste. They have continuously welded seams, a fully gasketed rear door, a knife-edge seal, adjustable hinges, ratchet binders, secondary release grab handles located on the bottom side of the door, and 3/16-inch walls and floor. Each lid measures 5 by 7 feet, with a 1- by 2-inch closed-cell gasket. 
  • The A5-200 Series roll-off trailer from Galbreath, a Wastequip brand, has a container size capacity of 26 feet and can handle payloads from 33,000 to 39,000 pounds. The trailer is available in outside rail, extendable tail, inside/outside rail and deadlift configurations. It includes two telescoping cylinders that handle up to 60,000 pounds. 

For complete product listings and manufacturer contact information, visit


Comments on this site are submitted by users and are not endorsed by nor do they reflect the views or opinions of COLE Publishing, Inc. Comments are moderated before being posted.