Could 'Poo-Gloos' Replace Wastewater Treatment Plants?

SALT LAKE CITY, UT — Underwater domes filled with sewage-eating bacteria, nicknamed Poo-Gloos, are being pitched as a less-expensive, lower-impact alternative to wastewater treatment facilities.

The devices, formally known as Bio-Domes, earned their nickname for their resemblance to igloos and the fact they were developed to clean up sewage from water.

A recent study found that the Bio-Domes remove pollution from wastewater at about the same rates as mechanical treatment facilities, and are being pitched as a solution for small, rural communities that rely on lagoon treatment setups but are outgrowing them.

The Bio-Domes are sold by Wastewater Compliance Systems, whose chief technology office, Kraig Johnson, developed them along with a research team at the University of Utah.

The domes each have four domes inside of them, separated by plastic film, allowing for a large area for the growth of bacteria, which cleans up the wastewater. The domes are placed at the bottom of a sewage treatment lagoon, and tubes move air through the domes, moving water through them as well.

The Bio-Domes are now being used in six states, in both pilot projects and full-scale installations.

"Every day I speak with community officials who need to upgrade their treatment facilities," Taylor Reynolds, director of sales for Wastewater Compliance Systems, said in a statement. "They come to us because they receive an engineering report recommending a $4 million to $10 million mechanical plant project that is impossible for them to pay for with their existing tax base. Not only can our Poo-Gloos or Bio-Domes help communities comply with pollution limits, but most of the projects I quote cost between $150,000 and $500,000, and the operating expenses are a fraction those at a mechanical plant."

Image: Bio-Domes - courtesy Waste Compliance Systems Inc.