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Event Recycling


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Fire Mountain Farms, Elma land application site

Biosolids

The average person in the United States uses approximately 100 gallons of water per day - washing hands, dishes, laundry, prepping food, showering, etc. Unless they use a septic system, all of this water is piped to their local wastewater treatment plant for processing. While many people think only of the treated water discharged into a river or bay, the biosolids portion of wastewater treatment is equally important.

Modern wastewater treatment plants are technologically advanced facilities that treat wastewater with an engineered biological process and require a great deal of knowledge and skill to operate. The process of treating wastewater creates clean effluent that is commonly discharged into receiving waters such as a river or bay. The process also produces a solid product, biosolids, which can and should be beneficially utilized.

Biosolids are not poop. Aquatic bacterial populations are specifically managed through an engineered process in a treatment plant. These bacteria consume the raw sewage as a food source and digest the various sewage products and incorporate it into their cells. This bacterial digestion process is what cleans the wastewater. The bacteria rapidly reproduce and then die and physically settle out in large tanks called clarifiers. This material that settles is primarily a stable organic matter along with some sand and soil particles. It is these stabilized solids that are tested, and if they meet the regulatory standards, are called Biosolids.

Biosolids are a valuable resource because they contain important nutrients that improve soil fertility. They contain nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, sulfur, and calcium, plus a variety of micronutrients. Biosolids improve soil tilth and have the nitrogen primarily in an organic form that mineralizes slowly and thus helps prevent groundwater contamination. The organic matter in biosolids improves soil tilth and water holding capacity. Biosolids come in several forms from liquid to dry pellets depending on the processing. They are a local and renewable resource and their reuse is the ultimate in recycling. We are taking something that was considered a waste, treating it, and converting it to a valuable product and using it to benefit the environment.