Wednesday, November 6, 2013

‘No’ to fertilizer from sewer plant

Hailey passes on $1 million upgrade

Express Staff Writer

The Hailey City Council voted Monday to forego a proposed $1 million sewer-plant upgrade option that would have created sellable “Class A” fertilizer.
    “We had to look at this,” said Councilwoman Martha Burke.
    In the end, Burke voted along with the rest of the council to choose a less costly upgrade option that produces Class B effluent that would be trucked to the Ohio Gulch landfill.
    The Class A treatment option was pilot-tested at the Woodside sewer facility last summer, but failed to convince a citizens advisory group, and the City Council, that it would be a financially viable option for the city.
    “There may be a market for it [Class A fertilizer], but for the limited amount that we would we be providing, about 8 cubic yards per week, there is not enough to make up our return on investment,” Public Works Director Tom Hellen said in an interview.
    Hellen said numerous cities, including Milwaukee Wis., Missoula, Mont., and Burley, Idaho, produce Class A fertilizer, but that these cities have both enough input of waste, and demand for the end product, to make it feasible.

There is not enough (fertilizer) to make up our return on investment.”
Tom Hellen
Public works director

    Eco-compost, a trade-name product, is made in Missoula from human waste, and sold here at Wood River Valley nurseries, Hellen said.
    HDR Engineering spokesman Tom Dupuis, who is working on a $300,000 study to design the new sewer facility, said he knew of no regulations that would require the city in the near future to produce Class A waste.
    “There are no mandatory regulations that I know of,” Dupuis said.
    Dupuis said that a Class A treatment process would cost more for operation and maintenance of the facility and possibly produce odors.
    Councilwoman Carol Brown congratulated HDR, the citizens advisory group and city staff for exploring the greener option of re-using human waste as fertilizer.
    “It is like the glass recycling idea,” she said (which was shown several years ago to be economically unfeasible). I was grouchy about it not working out, but at the end of the day, I got it,” Brown said.
    The City Council has plans to seek voter approval next spring for a bond to pay for a de-watering facility at the Woodside plant that is expected to cost from $3 million to $5 million. The city has determined that the new facility would increase safety at the plant and would reduce the hauling of sludge to the Ohio Gulch dump.
    Hellen said the new facility would decrease the hauling of 6,000-gallon tanker-truck loads of waste sludge to Ohio Gulch seven to 12 times each week down to one dump truck load of dried Class B waste.
    “The sludge we haul today is 99 percent water,” Hellen said.
    In other Hailey news:
    - The council passed an ordinance that allows for “free-market” testing of cross-connection devices on household water systems, rather than using city staff to perform the mandatory annual tests. Anyone with an irrigation system hooked up to the household water supply will need to have the annual test performed.
    - Based on input from business owners, Community Development Director Micah Austin was instructed by the council to continue the policy of installing 15-minute temporary parking signs around town at two per block. Austin will install new signs at the Hailey Public Library and one at Copy & Print. Austin will also send letters to business owners asking that they use parking lots away from Main Street for employee parking, so parking spaces near storefronts can be used by customers.
    - Hailey Fire Department personnel Mike Baledge and Robbin Warner were honored by Mayor Fritz Haemmerle for heading up the Fire Department for one month, until the new chief, Craig Aberbach, arrived this week.

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