The city’s nearly unending supply of sewage sludge keeps costing even as it keeps farmers in a steady supply of fertilizer with no expense to them.
The city’s travails with biosolid sludge, which is the byproduct left over after the waste water treatment process at the city’s huge Water Pollution Control plant, are just another result of the June 2008 flood.
The flood, among other things, damaged the WPC facility, which is located on Bertram Road SE near Highway 13. And among the flood damage at the plant was damage to the plant’s incinerator, which is used to burn the sludge left over after the treatment plant. With the incinerator out of commission, the city has had to do something else with the sludge.
For a few months after the flood, the city was forced to transport the sludge to a private Illinois landfill at high cost because the local solid waste agency did not want to take up any of its limited landfill space with the sludge.
In recent years, periodically some of WPC plant’s sludge has gone to area farmers for fertilizer at times when the plant’s incinerator has been down for maintenance. But with the incinerator out of commission, a much larger amount of sludge has gone to more farmers to use on more fields. In fact, in recent months, the city has had to stockpile the sludge in certain places in the country until farmers could get back into fields to apply the material.
Last week, the City Council approved additional spending on sludge because the WPC’s incinerator has taken more time to repair than had been thought, Pat Ball, the city’s utilities director, reported in a memo to the City Council.
Last October, the council had authorized spending $800,000 from WPC revenues, which are paid by user fees, to hire contractor Wulfekuhle Injection and Pumping to haul and apply sludge to farm fields.
Last week, the council added another $800,000 to the contract.
Long term, the city council and the solid waste agency board still hold out hopes that one day the sludge might be burned, perhaps along with municipal garbage, to make energy from waste.