A Coastal Community Moving Forward with Vacuum Sewer Technology

A coastal community in South Carolina made the decision to invest in a vacuum sewer system realizing that quality and service was an excellent choice. The gated community is called Frip Island and is located northeast of Hilton Head with a state of the art vacuum sewervsystem that runs effeiciently and requires a minimal amount of maintenance. One of the benefits the community has seen was a decrease of contaminated shell fish in septic tanks.

The manager of the Fripp Island Public Service District (FIPSD) stated “We had no experience with vacuum sewer technology when we went into this project, so we were very skeptical”. “But we have been very pleased with the results now that the system is in service. I would recommend vacuum sewers to anyone with circumstances like ours.”

A Plan to Protect the Shell Fish

Fripp Island was experiencing an environmental issue two years ago where a majority of the homes in the area was using ineffective septic tanks with untreated sewage having a negative impact on local shell fishing locations and groundwater. An inherited conveyance system and sewage treatment facility was inherited from a land developer. The county and state made the decision to prohibit septic tanks on certain properties due to poor soil conditions. This situation also caused a potential risk to public safety.

After a engineering rim reviewed the problem, there were three opportunities presented to FIPSD. Vacuum sewer technology, a gravity system or a pressure system that used grinders pumps. Vacuum sewers were a perfect fit for Fripp island with its flat topography, a water table that is below the surface by a few feet and sandy soil. A gravity sewer installation would have been expensive while creating disruption to utilities and roads. When the estimating costs of all three alternatives were reviewed, vacuum sewers ended up being the less expensive route with only one vacuum station versus multiple lift stations.

Another Step Towards Success

The FIPSD needed to learn how the vacuum sewers were going to be installed. AIRVAC’s field service team came to Fripp Island providing detailed information and consultation. AIRVAC is the worlds leader in vacuum sewer technology with a proven track record of completing successful instalations in Canada, Australia, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, the United States and the Phillipines.

Wilson stated, “The AIRVAC team spent a week with us when we were installing the collection lines and another week when we put in the vacuum station.” “It turned out to be very easy. We only have one vacuum station, so the system is very easy to monitor and to maintain. You check a few gauges every day and change the oil in the pumps regularly.”

There are key benefits to Fripp Island’s decision to use vacuum sewer. The environment is protected for residents that take part in recreational water sports and also for the shell fisherman. With the septic tanks replaced with modern sewer technology, the system is easier to maintain, quiet and eco friendly.

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