Lakefront Lot Leaves No Room to Spare

An innovative design for a tricky lot enables the expansion of a sports bar in north-central Wisconsin
Lakefront Lot Leaves No Room to Spare
The rear two risers mark the 3,000-gallon chamber on the Wieser Concrete pump tank, while the closest riser marks the 1,800- gallon compartment.

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The owner of Dublin Sports Bar & Grill in Conover, Wisconsin, wanted to increase the seating capacity to more than 300. The expansion also entailed a larger parking lot and onsite system. For the latter, he called Greg Simac, owner of Simac’s Plumbing in Eagle River.

“It was late autumn with snow on the ground,” Simac says. “I suggested he call Dale Schlieve, owner of C.E.C., an engineering firm in Rhinelander. Dale’s design for the restaurant with three-bedroom home arrived in spring, and it used every inch of spare space on the 1.4-acre property.” It also incorporated all of the original system components.

Lot constraints and working only feet from the building made the installation tricky. “I probably installed the system in my mind three dozen times,” Simac says. “Because everything had to be right on, I lost sleep over this one.”

Site conditions

Soils are loamy sand and sand with a loading rate of 0.7 gallons per square foot per day. Situated in the Nicolet National Forest, the lot abuts North Twin Lake to the south and a road to the north. Two neighboring cabins are west along the lake. All the properties are cut into a hill with a 40 to 50 percent grade.

System components

Schlieve designed the system to handle 3,129 gpd. There are several major components:

  • Existing 1,255-gallon grease interceptor (single-compartment tanks by Antigo Block).
  • Existing 2,000-gallon septic tank.
  • PL-625 effluent filter (Polylok Inc. / Zabel).
  • Existing 2,000-gallon former pump tank.
  • Two WK-200 White Knight Microbial Inoculator Generators (Knight Treatment Systems).
  • Dual-compartment (3,000/1,800) concrete pump tank (Wieser Concrete).
  • Alternating duplex WE20H 2 hp pumps (Goulds Water Technology, a Xylem brand).
  • 72 EZflow geosynthetic aggregate modules (Infiltrator Water Technologies).
  • IFS duplex control panel (SJE-Rhombus).

System operation

High-strength waste from the kitchen flows to the grease interceptor and then into the 4-inch PVC house lateral that carries wastewater to the septic tank. Secondary treatment occurs in the second tank before effluent flows to the pump tank. From the pump tank, the original 2-inch Styrofoam-insulated PVC force main runs under the parking lot to the west end of the driveway.

Simac cut the pipe at a 45-degree joint and capped and marked it. He then connected the new force main running 250 feet up the hill to the 2-inch manifold. Total lift from the pump to the field is 26 feet, but the rise up the hill from the connection is 16 feet.

The 2,040-square-foot drainfield receives 10 312.9-gallon doses daily with 37.49 additional gallons draining back. The two-step field has two 85-by-6-foot trenches per terrace. Each trench holds 16 bundles on 3-foot centers with 1.5-inch distribution pipes and 1/8-inch holes at 4 o’clock. Every fifth hole faces down.


Enlarging the parking lot was the first order of business. A contractor cut out 30,000 cubic yards of hill north of the building and then built a large block wall to retain the face. “I needed the parking lot completed to ensure we had enough room to set the pump tank parallel to the north side of the building,” Simac says. “However, we installed the drainfield first to keep the establishment open.”

Needing a large excavator, Simac hired Tom Collins, owner of Collins Excavating Grading, and his Kobelco SK295LC machine with 2-cubic-yard bucket. He rumbled 25 feet up the side of the hill to cut and level off the first shelf. Collins dug the top trench 5 feet deep and the lower trench 2 feet deep to maintain the same elevation. He repeated the procedure for the bottom terrace.

In the rain and cold wind, Simac and a helper carried the triple-configured modules from the parking lot up the hill and installed them when the first trench was completed. They covered the bundles with fabric and set inspection ports on each end of the rows. After passing inspection, Collins backfilled with 48 inches of native soil for the top lateral and 24 inches for the bottom lateral.

“We were worn out, but everything went well,” Simac says. “That night I did sleep soundly.”

The team assembled again the following week to install the 15.25-by-8.5-by-7.5-foot-high pump tank. The utility company We Energies dropped the upgraded overhead power line that replaced its dead underground counterpart. Utility workers also located the multiple water, gas and telecommunication lines crossing under the parking lot.

Meanwhile, Simac took down the satellite dishes that were in harm’s way, and Mike’s Septic Service pumped the tanks buried under a tiny patch of lawn against the north side of the building. The area also contained most of the space for the new pump tank, which protruded beyond the low, concrete-block retaining wall and into the driveway. A taller block wall protected the north side of the building and a semirecessed bagged ice storage bin.

Simac removed the north and west block walls before Collins dug the 20-by-10-by-14-foot-deep hole. “One wrong move could cave in the retaining wall alongside the building or damage the original pump tank,” Simac says. “Tom was excavating right up to both surfaces.” Two delivery drivers from Wieser Concrete and Simac acted as spotters for Collins.

Collins brought shoring, but the sandy clay loam and gravel held firm. Then, the bucket snagged the first buried power line. “Our hearts stopped, even though we knew it was dead,” Simac says. More wires and old galvanized pipes followed. Collin’s dump truck driver hauled away two loads of spoil, while some spoil was used for backfill and sloping on the site.

While the drivers set the 15,300-pound tank halves, Simac replaced the effluent filter in the septic tank, repaired the broken baffles in the second tank and installed the White Knight Microbial Inoculator Generators. “The original drainfield with Infiltrator chambers is good,” Simac says. “It was just too small for the increased flow, and the steep grade made enlarging it impossible. The owner opted to save it for when the cabins’ outdated onsite systems failed or need replacing. At that time, we’ll put new tanks in front of them and pump to the first drainfield.”


Simac holds the three-year maintenance contract for the White Knight Microbial Inoculator Generators. For his own edification, he sampled the effluent six months after startup and will then check the system’s health annually. “The owner understands that if he doesn’t take care of it, he’s out of options,” Simac says. “There is no more land and no plan B.”


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