Industry Veterans Share Tips for Pumpers Facing Septic Disposal Challenges

Industry Veterans Share Tips for Pumpers Facing Septic Disposal Challenges

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The disposal of septage is a constant challenge for septic pumping companies, often accompanied by a quagmire of regulations and logistical headaches. From administrative nightmares to the ever-rising costs, septic businesses are always on the lookout for solutions.

We explore the unique approaches of three septic pumping companies whose owners have found practical methods to tackle these challenges. Their insights can offer a roadmap for others in the industry to overcome similar issues.

All Pro Septic: Self-sufficient land application

David Lamas, owner of All Pro Septic in Cleveland, Texas, found a way to save on septage disposal costs by purchasing 55 acres of agricultural land for land application of wastewater.

“The only thing I can’t do out there on my land is off-load when it’s raining because the state doesn’t want heavy rains washing septage to places other than where it’s supposed to be,” he says.

With a specialized trailer designed for septage discharge, and numerous holding tanks, Lamas has reduced frequent stops to unload, keeping trucks on the road during the day.

“If you have a job that’s two or three truckloads of water, having a staging area for septage would allow an off-load without coming back to the shop,” Lamas says. He also serves big clients and helps family members in the business.

Sunshine Septic: Streamlining the Paperwork

Raymond Harris, owner of Sunshine Septic in Springfield, Tennessee, had once faced a difficult waste disposal issue due to the region's strict county regulations. Most of the 11 or so counties the company used to operate in would allow pumpers to dump only waste collected within their boundaries. 

“It was a paperwork disaster,” Harris says. “Each November, I’d spend about two weeks running from county to county, paying fees and filing paperwork.”

Then Harris heard that the city of Columbia would accept waste from any county. The only problem was Columbia was a two-hour drive away — about a 250-mile round trip. And the city charged $350 a load. But when Harris compared the costs and considered the time-consuming hassle of annual permit renewals, he figured he would actually come out ahead, as counterintuitive as that might seem on the surface.

“It was just a matter of eliminating all that running around,” he says. “It sounded like a lot of money, but when you do the math and look at all the time and fuel you burn…”

Eventually, Harris simplified things even more by shifting his business base primarily to customers living in Robertson County (Springfield is the county seat). The Springfield municipal waste treatment plant accepts waste from customers in Robertson County; Harris takes waste collected from all other customers to Columbia.

“On Sundays, there’s no line at the plant (in Columbia), so I get up, put on my boots, and go for a ride,” he explains. “I actually enjoy it because I know I’m avoiding a lot of headaches and paperwork.”

O'Fallon Sewer Service: Investing in a disposal facility

The o'Fallon Sewer Service crew
The o'Fallon Sewer Service crew

Leonard Earnest, founder of O’Fallon Sewer Service, adopted a different approach by building a 1-acre, 15-feet-deep wastewater disposal lagoon on a company-owned farm. According to Earnest, O’Fallon Sewer Service was the first septic pumping company in Missouri to build its own wastewater disposal lagoon.

“We had to go through the expense of building it,” Earnest says, “but it does save us a lot of time.”

He says the lagoon is large enough to take care of all the company’s septic pumping and portable restroom pumping. Evaporation, he says, disposes of a lot of the water. The company also can land-apply the sludge to the farm under the right weather conditions. A local farmer takes care of planting and harvesting of corn, soybeans and hay the farm produces.

Finding your path

These real-world examples showcase a few ideas septic pumping companies can use to combat their waste disposal challenges. Whether it's finding creative ways to simplify regulatory hurdles like Sunshine Septic or investing in owned infrastructure like O'Fallon and All Pro, each path offers its unique advantages.


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