Muffin Manhole Helps Keep Trucks Rolling and Sewage Flowing

The prefabricated manhole with an on-site Monster grinder cuts out pump clogs and firms partnership with local municipalities

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Muffin Manhole Helps Keep Trucks Rolling and Sewage Flowing

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Municipal wastewater system operators bear the brunt of the toughest waste: from wipes to rebar, whatever shouldn’t be in the wastewater stream invariably is. This leads to blocked pumps in the collections system and unplanned repair costs. Municipalities will tend to look upstream to figure out if a private company is sending high-solids sewage into the network. If this is the case, they can and will begin enforcement actions to make the facilities clean up their act. 

Pilot Flying J is one company facing such a problem. They found a win-win solution by working with local municipalities on a reliable waste reduction strategy to benefit both their truck stop locations and local pump stations. The end result is a predictable, one-size-fits-all solution that stops even the toughest debris in its tracks. Most important, the solution could be installed and maintained by their third-party mechanical contractor and plumbing partners — taking the burden off of Pilot’s store operators. 

Keeping America on the move

Regardless of the haul route, commercial drivers across America have come to rely on Pilot Flying J truck stops as a comfortable, one-stop respite during the long hours between their destinations. Customers can grab a hot meal, do their laundry, use the business center or even visit an urgent care clinic if needed. Since the merger of Pilot TravelCenters LLC and Flying J Inc., in 2010, the new company has expanded their network to over 550 interstate travel centers, all touting superior customer service and enhanced offerings for trucking companies, professional drivers, RV drivers and traveling motorists.

Due to the enormous customer volume each truck stop experiences on a daily basis — well into the thousands at some locations — Pilot Flying J project engineers are constantly evaluating each truck stop’s wastewater handling needs, and how each property is set up to manage it.

“Oftentimes, our truck stops are in smaller towns that don’t have the same sewage processing capabilities as larger city locations,” says David Grueser, project manager at Pilot Flying J. “We’ve seen articles of clothing, soup cans, golf balls, boots and all sorts of debris appear in our waste lines — meaning someone was trying to flush those things down a toilet.” This influx of tough debris would flood into local lift stations, which in many cases are ill-equipped to deal with such a high volume of trash.

A group of project engineers at Pilot Flying J began searching for a solution that was cost-effective, reliable and, most important, a one-size-fits-all answer for each location where additional debris reduction efforts were needed. They also took their local municipalities into consideration, knowing how crucial it was that they do their part to protect downstream equipment. “Instead of each engineer across the country specifying a different grinder, we decided to find a robust system we could use regardless of location,” Grueser says. 

Municipalities pointed them to JWC Environmental and Muffin Monster. JWC worked closely with the Pilot Flying J project engineering and construction management teams to determine a solution that would handle the tough debris from these truck stop locations. One of the important factors for any solution was that it must easily integrate into the wide variety of wastewater system configurations across the numerous stores in North America. 

JWC suggested the Muffin Monster Manhole, which makes installing a wastewater grinder within a sewage line hassle-free. The prefabricated manhole, with a 30K Muffin Monster grinder designed in, fits easily into a gravity-fed sewer line without major civil works. “We love the consistent performance of the Muffin Monster Manhole design, and how reliable it is,” Grueser says. “And, between the fast turnaround time and ease of installation, we feel we found the perfect solution and company to work with.”

Pilot’s plumbing partners

Dynamis Inc. of Knoxville, Tennessee, partners with Pilot Flying J to provide wastewater treatment support for installations as well as problem solving for septic line systems, according to Andrew West, Dynamis environmental specialist and field technician.

“Because of the growth of the company, Pilot Flying J has built their own truck stops as well as purchased other independent truck stops. There have been a lot of ‘cooks in the kitchen’ with how systems have been designed and how they’ve been set up. We find that some have been designed very well and others not so well,” West says.

“In the waste stream department, there may be 15 different sites, all with different lift stations, different design layouts and even different set-ups. They’ve been factoring the Muffin Monster into new facilities as well as rehabbing facilities since we’ve had good luck with them in different locations.”

Because of the nature of the waste, which can include plastics and even denim clothing, West notes, “The Muffin Monster chews through them like paper, and it’s good to know that it can handle the waste.”

Compared to the cost of other solutions, West also says that the Muffin Monster was the most cost-effective fix for their needs. Larger pumps may resolve some of the issues but would lead to other construction and capital costs.

“The footprint of the Muffin Monster Manhole is smaller, and it’s an easier install compared to putting in a septic tank, a fall-out tank or a large lift station,” he says. “With the JWC unit, everything is done in one package — we just dig the hole and attach the power leads, pipe it in and it’s good to go.”

As the partnership between JWC Environmental and Pilot Flying J shows, point-of-source waste reduction can be a mutually beneficial solution to help alleviate some of the burden from area pump stations, while also protecting the business’s sewer system and pipes. 

For more information about the Muffin Monster Manhole, visit


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