A designer and an installer work together on difficult installs on two adjoining lakefront lots
Failing a septic inspection on Canandaigua Lake in upstate New York is a potential environmental emergency. Often only a retaining wall separates the small lots from the water, and 97 percent of the 36-mile shoreline is privately owned. According to the Canandaigua Lake Watershed Commission, the watershed has approximately 4,250 onsite systems.
Finding replacement solutions to failed systems is the forte of Bill Grove, P.E., of Grove Engineering in Naples, New York, and Barry Zink, owner of Zinks Septic Solutions, in Palmyra, New York. A recent emergency involved adjoining lakefront properties with retaining walls. The homes had undersized pump tanks and septic tanks 25 feet from the water’s edge.
“These were really big jobs, and we did them in winter,” says Zink. “Fortunately, we were in beach sand and didn’t have to worry about smearing soils or backfilling with frozen soil.” Both systems were Grove designs.
Zink used an E55 Bobcat excavator to dig deep sump holes off the edge of the excavations. He passed spoil to technician Randy Seavert in a Kubota 75 tracked skid-steer, who took the sand to the International 2554 six-wheel dump truck with 6-cubic-yard Galion box. They had backed the truck down the steep grade of a boat launch to bring it as close to the work site as possible. Once loaded, it was too heavy to climb the grade under its own power, so Zink pulled it up with his machine.
The first home received an 8.5-foot-long, 750-gallon pump tank and a 12-foot-long, 1,250-gallon septic tank. Both were 5 feet wide by 4.25 feet high and anchored (Roth Global Plastics). A gas-powered 2-inch discharge trash pump and duplex submersible 1 hp pumps from Liberty Pumps dewatered the excavations, which were 12 to 18 inches larger than the tank sides and 5 feet deep. “We still had 40-degree water in the holes, which made work uncomfortable and more difficult,” says Zink.
Site preparation was identical at the second house. Grove specified a 36-inch-diameter 6-foot-tall fiberglass basin with anti-flotation collar and duplex 1 hp grinder pumps (both Liberty Pumps), and an anchored 1,250-gallon concrete septic tank from Lakelands Concrete Products. Both systems were backfilled with stone and sand transported one scoop at a time.