Nova Scotia invention fixes common environmental problem

A Nova Scotia invention may mean a healthier environment and lower costs for homeowners.

There are more than 100,000 domestic septic systems in Nova Scotia, almost all of which use a network of pipes in a soil bed to disperse treated effluent. If the dispersal pipes are not exactly level, one side of the disposal bed can become overloaded and fail. The failure creates environmental and health risks and the repair is expensive.

A Wellington Nova Scotia septic system consultant, Ken Burrows, came up with idea of the flow balancer to solve the problem. He took it to the Environmental Innovations Branch of Nova Scotia Environment and Labour. "The Department helped us understand what kind of financial assistance might be available and what kinds of test results regulators would need to see," said Burrows. "We finalized and tested the design."

The device forces the effluent flow into two equal streams. This ensures that the effluent is evenly distributed through the disposal bed. The balanced flow means that the work of filtering the effluent is spread evenly across the disposal bed.

The National Research Council's Industrial Research Assistance Program provided funding for prototype development. "Environment and Labour helped me make the connections with the University and the funding agencies to bring this to life," said Mr. Burrows.

Nova Scotia Environment and Labour provided financial support for the patent application and marketing. "Assisting environmental innovation is a core business of our Department," said Environment and Labour Minister Kerry Morash. "We're always ready to help make smart ideas like this one a reality."

The developers have applied for a patent and are discussing manufacturing plans.

"This is just the latest in a series of successes we've had working with the engineering faculty at Dalhousie," said Mr. Morash. "Their ability to apply science to real-world environmental management problems means we'll have more successes in the future."

A Nova Scotia invention will make domestic septic systems safer and more reliable.

The Flow Balancer allows septic disposal fields to last longer, meaning less risk to the environment and lower costs for the property owners.