Taneytown ponders ways to dispose of sludge from sewage treatment

August 11, 1994|By Traci A. Johnson | Traci A. Johnson,Sun Staff Writer

Taneytown city officials are weighing how to dispose of the sludge that the city's sewage-treatment plant is ill-equipped to handle.

Dennis Michael of Camp Dresser and McKee, the city's engineers, investigated two options for the city: hauling the excess to the Westminster Waste Treatment Plant or renting equipment to process the sludge in the city.

Sludge is what remains after sewage has been treated.

"The immediate need is finding a way to get that sludge out of there," said City Manager John L. Kendall. "We hope to have a decision within 30 days about which way the city's going to go."

The city generates 300,000 to 400,000 gallons of sewage a day. The city waste-treatment equipment can handle 700,000 gallons sewage per day.

But it is in drying and disposing of the sludge that the city falls a little short, Mr. Kendall said.

The sludge stored in the city's Imhoff tank, which holds treated sewage to be disinfected, cannot be adequately dried because the city has no belt filter press.

Such a press removes 90 percent of the water from sludge so that what remains can be applied to fields as fertilizer or taken to a landfill, Mr. Kendall said.

The sludge is dried on beds outside the building on a farm road off West Baltimore Street, "but that takes a lot of time. And also, if you get a lot of rain, you will have a problem, too," Mr. Kendall said.

Once the sludge has dried, the city has it hauled to a farmer, who spreads it on his fields as fertilizer. Officials are getting a permit from the state for another farmer to help with the sludge disposal, Mr. Kendall said.

But there are complications with farm disposal.

"The conflict is that you have to be ready to put it down when the farmer hasn't planted something, and that requires timing," Mr. Kendall said.

Mr. Michael, a Camp Dresser and McKee project manager for Taneytown, said it would be less expensive for the city to haul its sludge to Westminster for disposal.

Jeffrey Glass, supervisor at the Westminster City Waste Treatment Plant, said that plant could accept Taneytown's sludge because the Westminster plant is not operating at capacity, Mr. Michael said.

"The Westminster facility is well operated and extremely underused," said Mr. Michael. "This [option] appears to be something we can put in place rather quickly."

Taneytown would need to modify its state transportation permits to allow the sludge to be hauled to a destination other than the local farm, Mr. Kendall said. Mr. Michael said that would take 30 to 60 days.

The city would pay $86,257 annually to have the sludge hauled to and dried at the Westminster plant, he said.

The Westminster treatment plant would then be responsible for drying the sludge and disposing of it.

Renting a belt press to treat the sludge in Taneytown would cost the city about $104,000 each year, Mr. Michael said.

That price is based on a belt press that operates about six hours a day for four or five days a month. It would press the water from 16 to 17 gallons of sludge per minute.

The cost of renting and operating the press would be about $8,370 a month.

Costs associated with the rental include transporting the press to the city ($1,500), paying the driver ($270), weekly press rental ($3,600), operator's fee ($700), landfill disposal fees ($40 per ton) and transport fee ($10).

City employees would be required to take 40 hours of training in press operation. There are two press models, so employees might have to go through two rounds of training.

Instructors for the training course would be paid $75 an hour.

Within five years, Taneytown might buy its own belt press, but officials say they must deal with more immediate solutions.

"We have a 700,000-gallon-per-day capacity facility, and it is adequate right now," Mr. Kendall said. "But we are developing, ++ VTC and we are going to have to look into expanding that facility."

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