Modular Water Systems Salvages A Stranded Community

No Local Facility, Left No Place to Discharge Overflowing Septic Waste

The Township of Coalwood is nestled in the Appalachian Mountains in McDowell County, West Virginia. Founded in 1905, it operated as a coal town, reaching its peak in the 1950s with a population of about 2000. However, in 1986 the coal mine was closed, and by 1990 Coalwood’s population had dwindled to 900 folk who did stay, because it was home. Perhaps best known for Homer Hickam Jr and his book titled Rocket Boys (as the sign below suggests), that Universal Pictures released the movie, October Skys, based on in 1999, the town has a rich and colorful history. From the perspective of Modular Water Systems, Coalwood is just like any other town or community in America, its residents deserve to have clean water and proper wastewater management!


Because the county of Mc Dowell had no sewer system and homes in the county relied on septic tanks to treat their waste, but there was no local facility to treat the waste from the septic tanks, waste water was being discharged into creeks and in other non-optimal ways.  Resultantly, a grant was approved by the state’s EPA to fund a waste water treatment (WWT) system for Coalwood.


Modular Water Systems (MWS) was approached by a Consulting Engineering Firm working for the Town of Coalwood to design a new standalone WWT solution. This decentralized, WWT plant needed to meet three primary selection criteria:

  • Sufficient treatment capacity to support the small town.
  • Durability – the system must have an extremely long life cycle.
  • Fast and efficient site installation

The EveraTREAT system designed by MWS (as led by Daniel Early, PE, Chief Engineer), using structural polypropylene (SPP) panels excelled in all these aspects, tipping the decision scales by offering numerous advantages over conventional materials – concrete and steel based construction. 

Modular Water Systems EveraTREAT 17,500 Gallon Per Day, Integrated Fixed Film Activated Sludge (IFAS). containerized system employs an advanced Moving Bed BioReactor (MBBR) process to accomplish and ensure that required WWT standards are continually met.


Based upon the effluent standards required, the EveraTreat has a capacity of 17,500 gallons per day  and employs Moving Bed Biofilm Reactor (MBBR) technology for the best results. The system is designed to treat the specified influent flow rate and organic loading to produce an effluent that meets and exceeds the maximum stipulated effluent conditions. This table reflects Coalwood’s influent data and the specified effluent requirement

ConstituentInfluentEffluent (max)
Flow Rate17,500 GPD (ADF)
BODS350 mg/L<20 mg/L
TSS350 mg/L<30 mg/L
TKN50 mg/L<3.5 mg/L (TN)
Phosphorous10 mg/L<4
pH6.5 to 8.56.5 to 8.5
Fats. Oils, Grease<10 mg/LNA
Water Temperature40 F to 95F<105F

GPD-Gallons Per Day , ADF-Average Daily Flow
BOD-Biological Oxygen Demand is a measurement of the amount of dissolved oxygen (DO) that is used by aerobic microorganisms when decomposing organic matter in water. When BOD levels are high, dissolved oxygen levels decrease because the oxygen that is available in the water is being consumed by the bacteria.
TSS-Total Suspended Solids 
is the dry-weight of suspended particles, that are not dissolved, in a sample of water that can be trapped by a filter that is analyzed using a filtration apparatus.
TKN-Total Kjedhal Nitrogen 
is the U.S. EPA-approved parameter used to measure organic nitrogen and ammonia.
TNTotal Nitrogen.  The total amount of nitrogen in water, including ammonia, ammonium salts, nitrites, nitrates, and organic nitrogen compounds.


Daniel Early and his colleagues determined that the EveraTREAT systems can operate as much as three to four times longer than traditional concrete or metal WWT systems, significantly reducing the overall cost of ownership.  With a WWT plant capable of lasting up to 100 years, end-users can rest assured that their long-term needs are met without hidden maintenance and reconstruction costs or hassle. Not to mention, the system downtime and backup system costs during such maintenance and renewals. 

MWS sources only top brand, high-quality electrical components which meet National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) ratings, and all wiring configurations and control panels meet the highest Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards and are factory pretested to ensure perfect performance.


The MWS pre-fabricated system, crafted from structural panels, is remarkably easy to transport, despite its capacity of 17,500 gallons per day, thanks to its lightweight and rugged design. Moreover, the ingenious engineering behind the EveraTREAT plug and play system minimizes the need for specialized tradespeople such as plumbers, electricians, and concrete specialists during installation, thereby expediting the entire process. To put it in perspective, the West Virginia project required only one-third of the usual installation time, as confirmed by the general contractor overseeing the project, resulting in substantial cost savings.

The EveraBOX Control and Monitoring Station (bottom left above) houses a fully-equipped, air-conditioned, operations manager office and lab, control room with computer automated digital control panels, flow routing control piping assembly and ancillary pumps (pictured below), cabinets, counter top and more. The smaller EveraBOX unit (mid image on the above right) sits atop the EveraTREAT IFAS unit houses additional ancillary components and enables its operator access to various control and operational capabilities as well as.


With the system fully commissioned by May 2023, everyone involved in the project, from the engineering and construction partners to the end-users, expressed satisfaction and enthusiasm upon its completion, which took less than four months from conceptualization to final installation and start-up. As Daniel Early observed, “This project speaks to the design and performance benefits of structural panels in creating viable, durable, and environmentally friendly decentralized WWT plants, particularly when coupled with innovative engineering and professional fabrication and installation execution.” 

Twin EveraMOD Pump stations (the raised hatches) manage incoming and outgoing wastewater and treated water.
Once pumped inside the partially subsurfaced, dual SPP paneled EveraTREAT units the MBBRs transform the wastewater.


The Construction Superintendent, FAMCO’s Todd Black, who was interviewed in June 2023 by Riggs Eckelberry, CEO of MWS’ parent company, OriginClear, said this about the project, “The system went together well. It worked exactly the way it’s supposed to when we installed it and then started it up. It made a nice-looking plant when we got done. The city js satisfied, very satisfied with the system.”

When asked if he thought there is a demand for more of these type of systems in his area Todd responded, “For the rural part of West Virginia, these systems would work really well. I could see them being beneficial.”


Using modern PLC (Programmable Logic Controllers) and HMI (Human Machine Interface) technology along with detailed and comprehensive operation manuals, made the operator training on the system, very quick and simple.


Due to the rapid growth in many areas of the USA, town and city supplied utilities simply can’t keep up with or meet the sewer demands of the sprawling new townships being developed. In already developed rural areas, such as Coalwood, millions of older systems, especially those with many years where proper service and maintenance have been neglected, are failing or on the verge. As a result, centralized solutions like a piped sewerage system are highly impractical, and present a costly and time-consuming obstacle, so residences in outlying areas are having to resort to septic tank-based systems, with no local government facility to process the resultant wastewater.


The MWS EveraTREAT system is the ideal product application and infrastructure solution to supplement both new off-grid development projects as well as aging and underserved community septic systems. In the case of Coalwood, the design not only met and exceeded the customer’s requirements in all respects, but has handled an entire community’s wastewater requirements.

Coalwood is only one of many other such communities Modular Water Systems has helped to gain independent, self-sufficient wastewater security. With an estimated 50% of the more than 21 million septic systems in the US aging and not functioning properly the demand for onsite, point of use wastewater solutions and treatment has never been greater. The Modular Water Systems product lines are designed to be scaled and deployed rapidly enough to meet that demand.

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