Looks can be deceiving. This isn't exactly a strange campground in the middle of a lake, but rather a sort of mobile wastewater treatment system. The hard, tent-like Poo-Gloos have been designed to eat organic waste and other pollutants coming from untreated sewage.
In this photo, the Poo-Gloos have been set up to chomp on pollutants in a sewage lagoon in Wellsville, Utah.
Normally, rural communities use wastewater lagoons to remove pollutants from sewage streams. Lagoons are ponds that hold sewage for up to a year so pollutants have a chance to settle - and ultimately let nature run its course and clean the water.
However, growing towns sometimes have too much poo to deal with, especially when there's more people moving in. The small communities must make a choice. One option is to spend millions of dollars on a mechanical wastewater treatment plant to speed up the cleaning process to deal with the increase in demand.
There's also the cheap Poo-Gloos option. The domes actually perform just as well as a multimillion-dollar sewage treatment plants.
Commercially, the Poo-Gloos are sold as Bio-Domes and depend on bacterial biofilms to do the dirty work of eating up the sewage. The cleverly designed domes give bacteria the perfect environment to flourish: it's dark and there's a lot of room for mixing.
As it turns out, the domes were able to reduce the biological oxygen, ammonia levels and nitrogen levels just as well as mechanical wastewater treatment plants do.
The Bio-Domes are powered by the electricity equivalent of a 75-watt bulb - which helps reduce operating costs. It's possible to run the domes on renewable energy sources, which could take this mobile system completely off-the-grid.
The study shows that by retrofitting existing wastewater facilities with Poo-Gloos, communities could potentially save millions of dollars.
"The bugs will adapt to consume whatever is available," said Kraig Johnson, chief technology officer for Wastewater Compliance Systems. "Poo-Gloos – or Bio-Domes as we call them – have a lot of potential, and we've only just scratched the surface."
Indeed, it's no surprise that these mobile units are popping up in pilot programs around the country:
- Jackpot in Nevada
- Glacier National Park in Montana
- Plain City and Wellsville in Utah
Photo: Waste Compliance Systems Inc.