Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Civil and Environmental Engineering


Civil and Environmental Engineering


Nirupam Pal


Residential septic systems provide reliable wastewater treatment for over 26 million homes and facilities in the United States, and many more worldwide. When properly maintained, these systems are reliable, low-cost, and long-term treatments for residential wastewater. When neglected, septic systems can fail and lead to health concerns and ecological harm to soil and groundwater contamination through the improperly treated wastewater effluent.

This study tested the effect of the bio-augmentation product BiOWiSH® Septic Rescue of BiOWiSH® Technologies International, Inc. (hereafter referred to as BiOWiSH) on the biological treatment of residential septic tanks. BiOWiSH is meant to act as a bio-augmentation product through the addition of a proprietary blend of Bacillus and Lactic Acid producing bacteria. These microbes act as a biocatalyst to enhance and encourage a range of hydrolytic, oxidative, and reductive biochemical reaction and promote digestion of bio solids and ammonification within the septic tanks.

To test the effect of BiOWiSH on the treatment of residential septic tanks, four 32-gallon tanks were constructed and filled with water and primary sludge from the primary clarifier at the San Luis Obispo Water Resource Recovery Facility. Two tanks were dosed with the recommended amount of BiOWiSH; one tank had no additive biological treatment and served as the control; one tank was dosed with RID-X® Septic Maintenance, a leading competitive product (hereafter referred to as RID-X).

Each tank functioned as a plug-flow reactor. Primary sludge and tap water was added daily and effluent was sampled on a daily or weekly basis, based on the parameters being tested. Effluent water samples were tested for removal of ammonia, nitrates, total suspended solids, and biological oxygen demand. Temperature and pH were also recorded. v

These analyses indicated no significant advantage from the addition of BiOWiSH in the reduction of ammonia, total suspended solids, or biological oxygen demand over the control tank or the tank dosed with the RID-X competitive product. Nitrates (in the form of nitrate and nitrite) did not form in any of the tanks.

Future studies are needed to validate these results. Additional studies should include an analysis of experimental time frames, sampling frequency, and testing additional products designed to rescue failed or failing septic systems. BiOWiSH should also be tested further in its potential ability to enhance the biological treatment of septic tank effluent once the wastewater has entered aerobic leach fields.