As we know here in the Commonwealth, many small municipalities are looking for ways to reduce costs in any way possible. Many water technology providers are presenting answers to reducing the cost of biosolids management and also, in many cases, providing an unexpected boost to the bottom line. Furthermore, communities are finding that in addition to reduced operations costs, they are producing less waste and using much less energy.
Here in Kentucky, municipal wastewater treatment plants traditionally have one main focus: treat wastewater and return clean water back to the environment while meeting all regulatory requirements. But as towns and populations grow, there is an increasing need to focus on residual by-products of the wastewater process––biosolids. With growing costs of waste disposal and energy for biosolids treatment, the focus has turned to biosolids management and waste minimization. Some researchers have estimated that waste disposal will increase more than 10 times in the next 10 years.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the quantity of sludge produced in a wastewater treatment plant is roughly 1 percent of the quantity of treated wastewater, yet sludge management costs can be as high as 40 to 50 percent of the total operating costs. Water technology providers are looking at this issue from many different angles. For example, technologies that reduce biosolids, more efficiently dewater and dry sludge and better capture and convert biogas or compost are providing opportunities for communities to beneficently use biosolids and reduce operating costs.
A recent technological advancement is the Cannibal Solids Reduction System, which can reduce the production of biosolids by 50–80 percent. This system reconfigures the traditional activated sludge process, lowering the biosolids production and significantly reducing the power requirements for biosolids stabilization. A community on the West Coast recently implemented this process and reduced its sludge disposal costs by $80,000 a year.
Many companies are developing new technologies in the interest of reducing costs in every aspect of water treatment. With greater awareness about the issues that each facility faces, these companies will provide more options for communities to reduce life-cycle costs and improve biosolids management.
For more information about the Cannibal Solids Reduction System, please visit their website.