OSWEGO, NY – The city and county are on the verge of swapping sewage sludge and leachate as part of an intermunicipal agreement that will be beneficial to both entities.
The city’s Administrative Services Committee approved the tentative deal Monday night. The county’s Infrastructure and Facilities Committee already gave its seal of approval.
The plan must be approved by the Common Council and the Oswego County Legislature before it officially takes affect.
Sludge is the by-product of the wastewater treatment plant. Leachate is basically the water that comes out of the landfill after a rain, according to Frank Visser, the county’s director of solid waste.
“It picks up contaminates and needs to be treated. It’s fairly mildly contaminated,” he explained.
The county has brought some to Oswego, but not all of it, Visser noted. Fulton was a more cost-effective alternative.
The county receives stabilize sludge at its Bristol Hill Landfill from the city of Oswego.
The county hauls leachate from Bristol Hill to the city of Fulton’s Wastewater Treatment Plant.
The sludge from Oswego has contributed to elevated ammonia levels in the leachate collected from Bristol Hill.
The ammonia concentration in the leachate exceeds the permitted levels for discharge to the Fulton plant to the extent that the county will be prohibited from using it.
Additional pretreatment of the leachate isn’t a viable option for the county at this time. And, incineration of the sludge isn’t a viable option for the city of Oswego.
The two entities have decided to work together. If the council and legislature agree to the pact, the county will receive sewage sludge from the city without charge at Bristol Hill for two years (beginning Jan. 1, 2011). The city shall receive leachate from the county without charge at its wastewater treatment plant for the same two-year period.
The original proposal looked like this:
County leachate to the city: 10 million gallons at 2.5 cents per gallon (previously agreed to price) – benefit to the county would be $250,000,
City sludge to the county: 2,300 tons at $52 per ton – benefit to the city would be $119,600.
Mayor Randy Bateman proposed the two-year plan to make the gap between the count’s benefit and the city’s a bit more equitable. The county numbers would be the same. However, for the city it would be 4,600 tons at $52 per ton – benefit to the city would be $239,200.
The county would still receive a positive benefit of $10,800, he pointed out.
As an additional inducement for the city to enter into the deal and equalize the disparity between sludge disposal costs and leachate disposal costs currently incurred by the parties, the county agrees to lower to the applicable per ton asbestos rate charged by the county to the city (regarding the demolition of an unsafe structure formerly at West Fifth and Bridge streets) from the customary rate of $100 per ton to $52 per ton.
This will adjust the $65,705 previously billed to the city in August for the disposal of 657.05 tons of asbestos-laden waste to $34,166.60.
Years ago, the city incinerated the sludge and residents complained about the odor, according to Tony Leotta, city engineer.
“Lime stabilization is a far better option,” he said. “There were extreme odor complaints for years when the city used the incinerators. The day they shut down the incinerators, all the complaints stopped.”
Once the sludge is stabilized, the city is permitted to take it to Bristol Hill.
There are some landfills that would take un-stabilized sludge, Leotta noted, but added “The cost of getting it there is prohibitive.”
“The real issue here is not the ability of Fulton to treat it or the ability of Oswego to treat it. It’s a permit condition, which is established by the EPA,” said Phil Church, county administrator. “All it would take is for the EPA to change the permit condition (the amount of ammonia) for the city of Fulton and the whole problem would go away. They just refuse to do that.”
“We bring it here (Oswego) and it’s treated the same way. So why can’t we bring it to Fulton? It’s just because Fulton has a different piece of paper that says we cannot do it,” Visser added.
“They discharge into the Oswego River where we discharge into Lake Ontario,” Leotta pointed out.
The county has a tanker truck, which might survive a couple of years, Visser said.
“But, we’re going to have to do something at Bristol Hill to reduce the amount of ammonia,” he said.
“This agreement would give us at least a temporary solution as we continue to work on a permanent solution,” Church said.