Graf's wastewater treatment system in action



Specialist installers Drain-Age take under four days to install a Graf UK treatment plant.

Drainage consultants and installers of ecological wastewater and sewage treatment centres have bucked the Just-In-Time trend by investing in Graf UK stock.

Drain-Age, specialists for 40 years in compliance works for septic tanks and sewage treatment plants, were able to supply and install a nine-person Graf UK wastewater treatment plant to a private property within four days, thanks to their policy of holding stock.

The Dorset-based company attended a GRAF UK accredited training course for installers during the summer, and since then have installed 17 Graf systems, with further orders of domestic and commercial units for five to 200-people being taken on a weekly basis.

They were recommended to attend a seven-bedroomed private house in 17 acres of land-scaped gardens near the New Forest in Hampshire during September to investigate a poor-quality discharge from a brick septic tank.

Surface water was found to be entering from a shallow soakaway serving three surface water down pipes. A sewage conversion unit had been installed (by others) around five years ago in a failed attempt to clean the discharge which was entering a stream within the grounds of the impressive property.

Drain-Age excavated an exploration dig upon the outer wall, only to discover the heavy soil surrounding it was the only thing holding some of the section’s brickwork together. Large holes were clearly visible, and the wall was in danger of warping the more brickwork they exposed.

Added to these issues, surface water was penetrating the brick walls around the base of the tank, when no surface water should enter any sewage tank as it constantly flushes good enzymes away in the discharge process.

The cheap conversion unit must have seemed at the time an attractive option to the customer but in reality was not a suitable installation to address the tank condition or surface water issues to clean the effluent to meet standard Environment Agency discharge regulations.

Following an in-depth discussion with Drain-Age’s clients, it was quickly decided it would be more cost effective to install a new Graf UK system that complied fully with all current regulations, and Graf’s low-energy and low-noise One2Clean was the go-to choice as it ticks the domestic home owner’s box with its added low running costs.

Day 1 of the project saw the ground protection boards, and machinery and plant put in place. Turfs were lifted and set aside in military order ready for speedy reinstatement of the lawns.

On Day 2, engineers were on the ground early, plant and machinery fired up and excavations completed by the end of day, with a concrete jacket surrounding the new Graf UK treatment plant.

Day 3 saw 18 tonnes of spoil removed, soil top dressing and turfs replaced, and electrics tested and certified, leaving on Day 4, only ground protection boards and plant to be removed, followed by a light brushing of the turf with a hose and handover to the customer.

Drain-Age found the garden area they were working on was very soft and had been extensively landscaped, so the team hand-laid more than 90 track boards to allow safer movement for their engineers and plant, including a large excavator and dumper.

Due to the possibility of seasonal high-water tables in the winter, the Graf One2Clean wastewater treatment plant was placed on a bed of 250mm of concrete, with four metres of C25 used to surround and secure it in the ground as a protection jacket and anchor if the unit was pumped out in any high-water table periods.

Drain-Age project manager Clinton Lee said: “Time was the biggest challenge. Unlike many other companies, we keep a large comprehensive stock of Graf UK products at our depot. This enables us to react quickly to the needs of our clients, wherever possible avoiding manufacture delivery times and the risk of price up-lifts that the industry has experienced on raw materials since Covid.

“Drain-Age invest a lot of time and money to ensure every member of their staff are multi-trained. This ensures machinery is always productive. Teams are large enough to ensure the excavation and movement of spoil continues whilst breaks are staggered. This allows for quicker installation with very little downtime.”

Clinton added Graf UK were very efficient at meeting their tight deadlines, and their tanks are robust and hassle-free, so much so the directors at Drain-Age made them a core stock item.

The discharges from Graf UK tanks exceed industry standards, producing quality at realistic prices, and further advanced options such as carbon and phosphate dosing and denitrification are available to further reduce phosphate, nitrate and ammonia levels in sensitive sites of natural beauty.

“Clients’ questions often need answering from the supplier not just us as the installers, so it makes good sound sense to check installers like us are credited, approved or preferred installers. You only want to pay for an installation of this type once,” he said.

“The team at Graf offer this service to business clients as well as home owners, so if property owners are considering upgrading and future proofing their investments, Graf water treatment products certainly tick the box. Drain-Age could not recommend them any more highly. They are here to stay and somewhat a breath of fresh air to our industry.”

GRAF’s One2Clean system features no mechanical elements, pumps or electrical components within the tank, and they produce minimal sewage sludge, which extends pump out costs. Designed to be future-proof, it only needs three steps to produce clear water, and is odourless. Their electricity running costs can be almost halved compared with other suppliers on the market.