Lake Neatahwanta Sludge Market Tested; Dredger Back In Action This Week

FULTON, NY – Sludge test results are expected by the end of the week, as the city of Fulton prepares to market the 20,000 cubic yards of phosphorus and nitrogen rich material harvested from the bottom of Lake Neatahwanta.

In October, the Fulton Common Council voted unanimously to give Mayor Ronald Woodward permission to market the sludge to willing buyers.

“I don’t know how successful marketing this will be,” the mayor said during an interview with Oswego County Today in October. “I can’t imagine it doesn’t have some value to it. If the farmers can grow onions and lettuce on it for 100 years they ought to be able to use it now for topsoil.”

The mayor said the Fulton Community Revitalization Committee did $20,000 worth of sampling prior to dredging, and the samples came back ‘type A’ material. “That means it can be used for anything,” he said. “There are no chemical contaminations in there at all.”

FCRC President Joseph Fiumara said the committee had been in touch with a few companies which might be interested in the dewatered sludge currently resting in long black geotextile tubes along the lake shore.

“We’re looking to sell to someone who has a mining permit,” Fiumara said. “If they have a mining permit and their own gravel bed they can utilize this material in their topsoil. It makes the richest topsoil going.”

He said there has been some interest with two very large companies in the area who have mining permits and are willing to utilize this material.

“The material is owned by the city, but all of the efforts, proceeds and byproducts will be rolled back into this project,” the president said.

Woodward said if there is no interest in the market for the accumulated material, the city would consider putting it to good use.

“In the city of Fulton we pick up leaves every fall, we pick up yard waste, and we grind all that stuff up. … There’s a lot of wood chips, too. … It’s all organic. It’s all good stuff for composting, ” the mayor said. “If we have to, we’ll strain (the sludge) and make that into topsoil for ourselves and we’ll sell it.”

He added, “Right now we’re paying $22 a yard for topsoil. We’re not going to give it away.”

The mayor said Tuesday that there has been 13,000 cubic yards dredged to date. Although a mechanical problem put the contractor’s dredger out of commission the third week of October, Woodward said the company is expected to be back on the job this week and will retrieve an additional 7,000 cubic yards before winter weather calls a halt to the operation for the year.

“We’ve got two new (geotextile) bags set up and he’s got room in one of the other bags. So, we’ve got enough to take it to the end of that this year,” Woodward said. “Then we’ll have the money budgeted for next year.”

“And we’ll have until July 15 of next year to get the sludge out because you can’t dredge before July 15, due to spawning,” Woodward added.