Municipal wastewater treatment operators bear the brunt of the toughest waste — from wipes to rebar, whatever “shouldn’t” be in the wastewater stream invariably is, and it ends up blocking pumps, screening equipment and pipelines along the way. Operators are then faced with the time-intensive and costly task of pump rebuilds and unscheduled maintenance, along with total system shut downs to deal with the debris clogging their equipment.
Some of these issues can be mitigated by looking at opportunities for waste reduction outside the immediate municipal pump station or treatment plant facility. Point-of-source handling not only benefits the business employing the technology by preventing pipe and sewer backup but also alleviates headaches for municipal treatment plant operators within their facilities. In fact, when local businesses work directly with their municipalities to devise a time-saving, cost-effective waste reduction solution, everyone wins.
Pilot Flying J is one such company working with local municipalities on a reliable waste reduction solution for both their truck stop locations and local pump stations. The end result is a predictable, one-size-fits-all solution that stops even the toughest debris in its tracks.
Keeping America on the Move
Regardless of the haul route, commercial drivers across America have come to rely on Pilot Flying J truck stops as a comfortable, one-stop respite during the long hours between their destinations. Customers can grab a hot meal, do their laundry, use the business center or even visit an urgent care clinic if needed. Since the merger of Pilot Travel Centers LLC and Flying J Inc. in 2010, the new company has expanded its network to over 550 interstate travel centers, all touting superior customer service and enhanced offerings for trucking companies, professional drivers, RV drivers and traveling motorists.
Due to the enormous customer volume each truck stop experiences on a daily basis — well into the thousands at some locations — Pilot Flying J project engineers are constantly evaluating each truck stop’s wastewater handling needs, and how each property is set up to manage it. “Oftentimes, our truck stops are in smaller towns that don’t have the same sewage processing capabilities as larger city locations,” said David Grueser, project manager at Pilot Flying J. “We’ve seen articles of clothing, soup cans, golf balls, boots, and all sorts of debris appear in our waste lines — meaning someone was trying to flush those things down a toilet,” he explained. This influx of tough debris would flood into local lift stations, which in many cases are ill-equipped to deal with such a high volume of trash.
A group of project engineers at Pilot Flying J began searching for a solution that was cost-effective, reliable, and most importantly, a one-size-fits-all answer to each location where additional debris reduction efforts were needed. They also took their local municipalities into consideration, knowing how crucial it was that they do their part to protect downstream equipment. “Instead of each engineer across the country specifying a different grinder, we decided to find a robust system we could use regardless of location,” said Grueser.
Their search led them to connect with Tom Smith at JWC Environmental. Smith worked closely with the Pilot Flying J project engineering and construction management teams to determine a solution that would handle the tough debris from these truck stop locations. One of the important factors for any solution was that it must be easily integrated into the wide variety of wastewater system configurations across the numerous stores in North America.
Streamlined Solution Found
Smith suggested the Muffin Monster Manhole, which makes installing a wastewater grinder within a sewage line hassle-free. The prefabricated manhole, with a 30K Muffin Monster grinder designed in, fits easily into a gravity-fed sewer line without major civil works. “We love the consistent performance of the Muffin Monster Manhole design and how reliable it is,” said Grueser. “And, between the fast turnaround time and ease of installation, we feel we found the perfect solution and company to work with.”
Grueser also commended JWC for being able to adapt quickly when different needs arose. “JWC Environmental has worked with us even when we encountered design challenges. One specific example was in Marion, N.C., when we realized we needed to reconfigure the placement of the Muffin Monster within the manhole but meet the construction schedule. They were able to coordinate the changes and expedited shipment — and it all arrived in time.”
Pilot Flying J continues to expand truck stop locations throughout the United States, and expects that 5 or 6 of these new locations will require a Muffin Monster Manhole in 2016.
Dynamis Inc. of Knoxville, Tenn., partners with Pilot Flying J to provide wastewater treatment support for installations as well as problem-solving for septic line systems, according to Andrew West, environmental specialist and field technician with Dynamis.
“Because of the growth of the company, Pilot Flying J has built their own truck stops as well as purchased other independent truck stops. There have been a lot of ‘cooks in the kitchen’ with how systems have been designed and how they’ve been set up. We find that some have been designed very well and others not so well,” West said.
“In the waste stream department, they may have 15 different sites, all with different lift stations, different design layouts and even different set-ups,” he continued. “They’ve been factoring the Muffin Monster into new facilities as well as rehabbing existing facilities since we’ve had good luck with them in different locations.”
Because of the nature of the waste, which can include plastics and even denim clothing, West noted, “The Muffin Monster chews through them like paper, and it’s good to know that it can handle the waste.”
West also noted that, compared to other solutions, the Muffin Monster was the most cost-effective fix for their needs. Larger pumps may have resolved some of the issues but would have led to other construction and capital costs.
“The footprint of the Muffin Monster Manhole is smaller, and it’s an easier install compared to putting in a septic tank, a fall-out tank or a large lift station,” he said. “With the JWC unit, everything is done in one package — we just dig the hole and attach the power leads, pipe it in, and it’s good to go.”
Eliminating the On-Site Lift Station
Another benefit to the installation of a Muffin Monster Manhole, according to West, is the fact that it can meet requested or mandated wastewater treatment requirements for a local municipality. “A local municipality may say that heavy solids loading from the truck stop facilities is affecting municipal lift stations further down the line or packing sewer systems leading to the wastewater treatment plant. In that case, the municipality may request or mandate some type of solids treatment for a specific location. We prefer the Muffin Monster Manhole because it’s an easier set-up. We can locate a suitable spot on the line, drop a hole there, cut the line and install the Muffin Monster Manhole.”
According to West, the biggest cost savings comes from reducing unscheduled maintenance. “With a lot of lift stations, quarterly inspection and clean out of solids build-up is required, and it takes a lot of specialized knowledge to troubleshoot,” West said. “The Muffin Monster is a much easier system to maintain on the small scale. I don’t recommend that you set it and forget it, but checking on it weekly is all that’s needed and can be done by on-site maintenance staff. All they have to do is lift up the manhole and see that the grinder is still turning.”
As the partnership between JWC Environmental and Pilot Flying J shows, point-of-source waste reduction can be a mutually beneficial solution to help alleviate some of the burden from area pump stations while also protecting the business’s sewer system and pipes.
About the Company: JWC Environmental designs, builds and services dependable waste shredders and screening systems to help its customers solve challenging waste reduction and recycling applications. With a global presence and four decades of experience, the company works closely with customers to ensure successful projects in a variety of sectors, including energy, wastewater, recycling, marine, and facility management. For more information, visit www.jwce.com.