Marin County School
Case Study

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Telemetry Provides Oversight and Improves Efficiency

Lagunitas Elementary School in beautiful Marin County, California, had a failing septic system that required weekly - and costly - "pump & haul" services.  The school retained Questa Engineering to design a new onsite wastewater system, and Questa decided on a recirculating sand filter (RSF).  To ensure the RSF could be regularly monitored and controlled within a limited school budget, Questa also specified a control panel with remote telemetry.

With remote telemetry, operators can monitor a system's flow, switches, pumps, floats, and alarms, without ever leaving the office.  Lagunitas' wastewater system was installed in February 1999, and Questa Engineering has been monitoring it ever since.  The school's wastewater flow averages 1400 to 1600 gpd (5.3 to 6.1 m3/d) during the week and just a few hundred gallons per day on the weekends.

"Working with Orenco's engineers, we developed a Summary Report that logs important system data," says Norman Hantzsche, Questa's Managing Engineer.  "Using telemetry, we make system checks regularly, but on Monday mornings we're able to make a quick scan of the previous week's report to make sure everything is operating under normal conditions."

One of those quick Monday scans showed an unusually high flow event over the weekend.  "The system spiked to 6700 gpd (25.4 m3/d)," says Hantzsche.  "We immediately notified the school staff, who found a water faucet left running in one of the restrooms.  We were able to look at the computer screen and make sure everything was functioning correctly.  We checked liquid levels in all tanks, pump operations, and flow readings in a matter of minutes," Hantzsche explains.  "We were able to notify the school about the high flow event, while confirming that the system was, in fact, working properly.  That way, the school could investigate the problem and correct it on their own.  Remote telemetry saves everyone a lot of time and money, while improving overall system reliability."