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Mines Engineers Develops Household Wastewater Plant to Replace Septic Tanks, Save South Dakota’s Economy!

South Dakota School of Mines chemical environmental scientist Dr. Maryam Amouamouha may have South Dakota’s next big thing: a water filter that replaces septic systems!

Dr. Amouamouha has developed the Anaerobic Membrane Bioreactor with Electrolytic Regeneration (AMBER), a wastewater treatment system screens, zaps, and chemically treats wastewater to produce potable water, compost, and methane. The household version of the device is six feet by two feet by three feet—smaller than some freezers—and would be cheaper than the typical septic tank and lines we currently install in rural homes not connected to central sewer. The technology can scale up to clean process wastewater for neighborhoods, factories, and small towns.

Think about all the advantages this compact wastewater treatment system offers to rural South Dakota:

  1. Instead of flushing away our dwindling water resources after a single use, we can recycle water, thus lowering the burden on our strained water systems.
  2. Recycling water to expand water supply means South Dakota communities can support more population growth, more housing development, more irrigation capacity, and more industrial development. (Listing these developments as advantages assumes that we consider growth good and necessary.)
  3. We reduce pollution from old, leaky septic tanks and lines on the prairie and especially in the Black Hills, where the rocky soil has less filtration capacity than our loamy East River dirt.
  4. We get compost to use in our gardens and farm fields.
  5. We get methane to heat our homes, run our factories, and reduce our dependence on imported fuel.
  6. Rural housing lots won’t need room for a septic tank and the lines that snake out from it into the dirt that naturally filters our sewage, so developers will be able to subdivide all those big lots and make more room for more people to build more homes. (Again, this point assumes that having more people living more closely together in the country is a good thing.)
  7. More dense rural development means a stronger tax base and more efficient use of rural roads, electric lines, rural water connections, and other services. (Ah, yes, maybe more people living more closely together in the country really is a good thing!)
  8. This on-site wastewater system would be cheaper than building central sewer systems for rural housing developments, thus saving Lake Herman and other places dear to my heart the extravagant expense and engineering of building and maintaining a sprawling central sewer system.
  9. This technology preserves the bold individualism of my kin on Lake Herman and spares good patriots the socialist idignity of a centralized community sewer!
  10. Dr. Amouamouha is from Iran, so installing AMBERs in every rural South Dakotan home would give every South Dakotan a keen reminder of the value of immigrants to South Dakota’s prospects for economic development.

The Governor’s Office of Economic Development sees the shine in this s***-processor. GOED gave Dr. Amouamouha its top Giant Vision prize of $20,000 in April.But we can’t get the good doctor’s wastewater processors at Menards yet: she still needs to get regulatory approval before starting to manufacture the devices for sale perhaps later this year.


  1. sx123 2022-06-21 09:13

    Anything that can just fix/eliminate problems of septic tanks and drainage fields is a win. If it can do more without introducing worse problems, even better!

  2. Steve Pearson 2022-06-21 09:58

    I’m just going to take a stab at this since you chose 10. I bet Dr. Amouamouha chose “legal” immigration to get to America. Plus, the prolific Doctor brings value to the United States of America as well.

    I’m sure all South Dakotans cheer on this innovative idea and person. I commend the good inventor on coming to America legally. Thanks for sharing this great story.

  3. mike from iowa 2022-06-21 10:59

    Vapid rabbit holes must be closed for fumigation.

  4. Arlo Blundt 2022-06-21 11:26

    Well..I can think of hundreds of lake cabins that can certainly use this system and, perhaps, save some shallow glacial lakes. I have been stuck with septic systems in two rural houses I’ve owned and both “daylighted” as the soil just didn’t work for a drain field…good old South Dakota gumbo.

  5. cathy 2022-06-21 11:48

    I want one!

  6. Steve Pearson 2022-06-21 16:24

    Love the crickets…

  7. larry kurtz 2022-06-21 17:22

    I used to play poker in Deadwood with a fat loudmouth named Steve Pearson.

  8. Mark Anderson 2022-06-21 18:01

    I read about this last week, she’s great. I’ve got a septic system and the county has been leaning on me for years to give the the measly 15 thousand or so to hook up to their system. I pump my own water too so they really hate me.
    Non deed restricted and the county has grown around us. Too bad.

  9. Mark Anderson 2022-06-21 18:14

    Steve Pearson, I’m concerned, did you arrive in America legally?

  10. Ryan 2022-06-21 22:00

    steve, you are obviously looking for attention and i enjoy giving attention to trolls. However, the problems with your desperate cry for argumentative interaction are numerous, and unexciting.

    You seem to think that by pretentiously fake-cheering for a legal immigrant you are forcing the darn woke libs to admit that they support illegal immigrants. And woven into your please-talk-to-me comment is the suggestion that legal immigrants are welcome because they offer something that illegal immigrants don’t, something useful to the lucky “us” who were smart enough to be born here.

    So predictable, your comments. So cliche. So empirically wrong, of course. Yet people like you ignore the facts about the pros and cons of immigration in general, and the nuances specifically in the policies for managing the unavoidable masses seeking freedom without the sophistication to understand paperwork.

    The biggest flaw in your lame gotcha! attempt is that those darn woke libs also think people from other countries who want to live here should go through the appropriate procedures to do so lawfully. Everyone wants that. But life real life isn’t ideal. The difference you are actually unintentionally bragging about is the disparate treatment of people who are here (or trying to be here) through illegal means. Those effin woke libs think these people are still people, human beings even, and that they should be afforded dignity in their time of need. Dumb phucks, on the other hand, think those darn illegals should be round up and sent packin in the desert. That’s what you’re proud of, ultimately. Your resentment for people in need. Trying to pick on people who just want the best for everyone… like they are the villains. Haha Way to go, bud. Probably a church guy, too, aren’t ya? Pssshhhhhh

  11. larry kurtz 2022-06-22 10:08

    I started a blog post this morning about developments in the H-2A, H-2B and EB-5 programs but found them more complicated than I can complete in a couple hours. A Trump era USDA advisor is balking on H-2A immigration program because it cooperates with United Farm Workers. “These differences probably stem from the greater political power of agribusiness, which uses H-2A, than that of the landscapers and resort operations, which use H-2B.”

  12. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-06-22 14:18

    I’d like to pass Steve and his malarkey through Dr. Amouamouha’s filter and see if we can convert his waste into anything useful. (Odds are, probably not.) Luckily, we already have Ryan for that filtering purpose. Thanks, Ryan!

    Heck of an invention. Dr. Amouamouha’s work represents how we need to welcome more immigrants to South Dakota and America to help us solve all sorts of problems, large and small. Just think if we didn’t absurdly low quotas on how many refugees we will help how many creative inventors and problem solvers America would have right now.

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