CLARKSVILLE, TN (CLARKSVILLE NOW) — The city’s Wastewater Treatment Plant is one step closer to a $40 million redevelopment that should put an end to the seasonal odor from the Woodlawn landfill.
The project will receive $15 million in funding from the American Recovery Plan Act.
“This grant funding will allow for significant infrastructure upgrades that will benefit residents and businesses across the community,” State Senator Bill Powers said when announcing the grant.
Big project: Thermal dryers
According to Clarksville Gas & Water general manager Mark Riggins, the grant will help pay for a new six-story building containing thermal dryers to be built on the existing wastewater plant site.
Riggins said thermal dryers dry leftover sludge, a byproduct of the water treatment plant’s treatment process, facilitating proper disposal as well as disposal to the landfill.
Gas & Water marketing coordinator Rhonda Fulton explained the thermal drying process.
“The dewatered wastewater sludge is spun in a rotating drum with an additional heat source to further dry the sludge to form a Class A biosolid. It will then be pelleted to create a product that is easier to process,” he said.
After the sludge is removed for processing, the clarified liquid is discharged into the Cumberland River, which has been the practice from the beginning. For those concerned about the health of the river, Riggins said treated wastewater is cleaner than drinking water.
The excess sludge was sent to the Bi-County Landfill. “The solids themselves are processed, and there are different ways to process them and then dispose of them,” said Riggins.
Damage from flood
Before the 2010 flood, teams at the Wastewater Treatment Plant processed the sludge into a grade that could be applied to land. “And people use it as fertilizer,” Riggins said. “We pulled it to a farm or something like that, and then we had a fertilizer spreader that people could load there and then spread on their farm.”
According to epa.gov, the end product of wastewater treatment plants is usually a Class A humus-like material with no detectable levels of pathogens, which can be applied as a soil conditioner and fertilizer to gardens, food and forage crops.
But Riggins said the flooding had done extensive damage to the wastewater plant and going back to the fertilizer-producing process would be expensive. “This sludge… it’s called biosolids, it’s currently being taken to landfill and disposed of.
“Now, back then, when that decision was made, the landfill was willing and happy to take it,” he said.
But in the last few years, odor has become an issue. “There have been a lot of complaints (from nearby neighbors) about the smell in the storage area,” Riggins said.
Mark Neblett, executive director of the Bi-County Solid Waste Management System, said they take in about five loads of sludge a day and it smells pretty bad.
“The other problem is that it’s difficult to mix with other waste to achieve compaction,” Neblett said, noting that if too much mud gets mixed into the regular trash, it creates a kind of swamp and causes heavy equipment to get stuck. .
long term solution
While seeking a solution, Riggins said a consultant suggested Gas & Water move the sludge to a different landfill at a cost of $15 million.
“I felt it was a waste of taxpayer money,” he said. “If I’m going to spend $15 million, I want it to be something that will work for this factory forever.”
Riggins said output will be reduced by up to 70% with the new thermal dryers, and the process will allow the sludge to be once again classified for use as fertilizer for farmers.
“We are grateful to the State of Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation for approving our grant application,” said Clarksville Mayor Joe Pitts. “The funding will help solve a longstanding problem at our wastewater treatment plant. We thank Mark Riggins and our family of employees at CGW for their work in securing these funds.”
Riggins said the next step is to bid on the project and complete the project in about two years.