Fayetteville: Reducing Waste, Space, Means Profit (Green Initiatives | Winner 20,000+)

by Arkansas Business Staff  on Monday, Dec. 10, 2012 12:00 am  

Flushing the toilet was literally money down the drain for the city of Fayetteville, so the city developed a program to turn that wastewater into cash while improving the environment at the same time.

The moves have earned Fayetteville recognition as a 2012 Arkansas Business City of Distinction for Green / Energy Conservation Initiatives.

The northwest Arkansas city uses two plants to treat wastewater before releasing the cleaner water back into the environment, said Duyen Tran, CH2M Hill project manager for the Fayetteville Wastewater Treatment Facility. CH2M Hill of Englewood, Colo., operates the facility.

“The treatment plants clean the wastewater using a mostly biological process that feeds the incoming wastewater to a population of microbial bugs,” Tran said. “The bugs are colonies of bacteria and other microorganisms that feed on waste.”

Eventually, though, those microorganisms multiply and have to be removed from the wastewater stream and that creates biosolids.

“The biosolids generated create a significant volume of wet-solid waste that must be disposed of in an environmentally responsible manner,” Tran said.

In 2003, CH2M Hill started hauling biosolids to landfills in Arkansas and neighboring states. On a typical day, however, 100,000 wet pounds of biosolids required more than two trips to landfills, which cost nearly $1 million annually in fuel, labor, landfill fees and equipment costs.

“The city of Fayetteville puts great emphasis on sustainability and, consequently, knew that other options needed to be considered for biosolids disposal,” Tran said. “After considering a variety of options, the city and CH2M determined that a combination of solar and thermal drying of the wet biosolids would be the best course of action.”

Drying the biosolids would reduce the trips to landfills and dried biosolids could be sold for fertilizer.

The city invested $9 million in equipment to dry the biosolids by using solar energy and natural gas, Tran said. In the middle of 2011, the city opened six solar drying houses built next to the Paul R. Noland Wastewater Treatment Plant.

“The solar houses are essentially greenhouses that use solar energy … to remove a majority of the water from the wet biosolids,” Tran said.

The city now spends less money on hauling wet biosolids to landfills. In the first six months of 2010, 499 semitrailer loads filled with 1,906 tons of wet biosolids were shipped to landfills, Tran said.

 

 

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