LOCATED A SHORT DRIVE north of Atlanta in the scenic foothills of the Appalachians, the Great Sky Development is plush with amenities including tennis courts, a water park, a pool, and a lodge clubhouse. But the newly developed neighborhood's most attractive asset—the mountainous views it offers its residents—brought a laundry list of logistical problems to developers and builders alike during the initial planning stages of the community in 2001.
Although the exhilarating views at Great Sky propel home buyers to pay a premium for homes, they also are the root of expensive and time-consuming infrastructure problems. Most notably, they pose significant problems in planning sewer disposal systems. Because of the hilly and wet terrain at Great Sky, traditional gravity systems were deemed impractical due to their reliance on, well, gravity.
According to McCullough, the financial baggage that accompanies excavation in such mountainous terrain—and the implementation of a series of lift stations—was enough for Fairgreen to seek other options. Just as problematic was the idea of implementing septic systems in such an environmentally sensitive area.
“At Great Sky, we required a low-cost sewer system alternative that would preserve [home buyers'] most important quality of life characteristics, including recreational facilities and waterfront development,” says McCullough.
ONE SOLUTION Enter Environment One, a sewage system developer based in Niskayuna, N.Y., that has been providing low pressure sewage (LPS) systems since 1971. Because Fair-green had worked with the company before, it was comfortable that E/One's product would best solve the logistical dilemma. The LPS system lends itself specifically to solving the problems caused by uneven, rocky, and wet terrain.
Because a gravity system inherently must flow at a downward grade, the excavation required in hilly terrain can prove costly to both the builder and the environment. The LPS system's advantage is that it uses grinder pumps to force waste through pipes, even at an uphill grade, which is impossible for the gravity system. Subsequently, excavation is significantly reduced. Installation of the 2- to 4-inch piping required for the system calls for excavation no deeper than the frost line.
“When it comes to the LPS system, you do a lot less damage to the terrain, and that was one of the big factors out here—keeping the beauty of the place without tearing up everything,” says McCullough.
That sentiment proved to be the foundation on which E/One has built its reputation. “It's really about having a light touch on the land,” says the company's George Vorsheim. “Building in an environmentally sensitive and economically sensible manner is what we campaign to aid builders with.”
GREEN'S FRIEND Since its inception more than three decades ago, the aptly named Environment One has provided the LPS system as an alternative to gravity and septic tank systems. Citing the environmental benefits of the product, Vorsheim notes the historical significance of E/One, which was founded as a spin-off of General Electric's research and development center.