Water board turns sludge into a profitable venture

By ELANE JONES, Daily Mountain Eagle
Posted 10/1/16

The Jasper Waterworks and Sewer Board embarked a project several years ago that is now paying off environmentally and financially. The Board owns a 140-acre site off Hay Valley Road where they recycle the by-products from the Laye-Williams Water …

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Water board turns sludge into a profitable venture

Posted

The Jasper Waterworks and Sewer Board embarked a project several years ago that is now paying off environmentally and financially. The Board owns a 140-acre site off Hay Valley Road where they recycle the by-products from the Laye-Williams Water Treatment Plant and Town Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant.

The sludge, known as hydrosolids or biosolids, is used to help enrich the soil at the Board’s Reclamation and Agriculture Complex, which is used for hay production and grazing land.

Alabama Senator Greg Reed and Representative Connie Rowe toured the site earlier this week.

“There are strict guidelines handed down by the EPA that we have to abide by. Even though it is settlement out of the river, we can’t just go out and dump it anywhere,” Jasper Waterworks and Sewer Board Manager Jason Langley said.

Langley said hydrosolids are mostly water and aluminum, which also contains trace amounts of a variety of other metals, suspended solids, organic chemicals and biological particles, and are used as a useful tool in controlling phosphorus run-off which can be damaging to surface waters.

Biosolids or nutrient-rich organic matter, are produced at the wastewater plant thorough the use of aerobic digestion, sludge drying beds and a dewatering screw press. The biosolids when treated and processed can be applied as fertilizer to improve and maintain productive soils and stimulate plant growth.

Langley said the Board has worked closely with the Walker County Soil and Water Conservation Office and several other environmental groups on the project.

Land that once was an old reclaimed strip mine now produces hay, which the Board uses in other projects as well as sells to local farmers and provides grazing land for cattle.

“We’re hoping to get to a point where we can also sell our by-products to the public to use as fertilize as well,” Langley said. “We’ll be able to do that once we can meet the EPA requirements for Class A biosolids.”

Langley said the Complex represents a progressive, environmentally and economically sound approach to managing material once considered an expensive and unavoidable liability.

Rep. Connie Rowe said she was really impressed by the project and the innovative thinking that went into it.

“This is such a new and eco-friendly process that saves money,” Rowe said. “And I congratulate the Board for their forward thinking.”

Senator Greg Reed said the project is a long-term solution to an old problem, which now has a positive outcome not only for the property but also has significant benefit to the city of Jasper.

“Whoever came up with this smart idea should be commended, because I think it’s brilliant,” Reed said. “This is a really good program, and I think it could serve as a model for other water systems across the State of Alabama, because it hits all the highlights.”

Reed said the project highlights the collabration between the various groups that are engaged and in agreement on a project.

In 2015, the Board land applied 48 dry tons of hydrosolids and 30 tons of Class B biosolids at the Complex and has plans to increase those amounts in 2016.