Septic tank alert designed to prevent unpleasant surprise

Mitch Olson's  innovation received a gold award at Canada’s Farm Progress Show.  |  Karen Briere photo

Developers of a new ultrasonic sensor say it ends the uncertainty around an important household question: is the septic tank full?

TankFull, a division of Duck Mountain Environmental based in Kamsack, Sask., received a gold standard award at Canada’s Farm Progress Show for its promise of 24/7 monitoring through the sensor and a cellular network or the internet.

Robert Ritchie, president of DME, said it took two years to take the product to a commercial level late last year. About 100 customers have signed up.

“If you are in cottage country or in the farming community, or anywhere in the rural area, we all know what septic tanks are,” Ritchie said.

“We typically don’t like checking them and we don’t like when they overfill and we miss the fact.”

The technology includes the ultrasonic sensor connected to a network that transmits data in real time to the customer’s smartphone or tablet. The company also re-ceives the transmission continuously.

“When a tank gets to 80 percent full, or whatever that value is, it will send an alert to the customer, it will send an alert to our facility and then we’re able to dispatch a vehicle to come and pump that tank and of course alert the customer as well,” Ritchie said.

The customer decides the percentage at which the alert should be made.

Ritchie said there are about 65,000 septic tanks in Saskatchewan and 2.3 million in Canada.

He said people tend to forget about their tanks until they flood their basements, yards or neigh-bours’ yards.

“This kind of technology was ready for the market because nobody likes checking it and it gives you peace of mind,” he said.

The device is easy to install. Customers can do it themselves but Ritchie said DME prefers to do it to make sure it’s done correctly. It takes about 40 minutes and can be done on existing installations.

The device sits on top of the tank, so some room to manoeuvre is required. The entire system costs about $700, including installation, plus the monthly monitoring fee, which Ritchie said varies by area.

He also said the company will make connections with the septic companies it uses in customers’ areas.

Most of the current clients are in the Kamsack-Madge Lake-Yorkton-Canora area.

Ritchie said having a venue at the farm show exposed the new product to many potential customers.

Mitch Olson, the TankFull representative, said the system can also be used to measure fuel and water tanks. However, the ability to better monitor septic tanks is a new market.

He said some installations have been done using the rural internet provider Xplornet.

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