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Lake Placid turns sludge into savings

April 3, 2014
By MATTHEW TURNER ( , Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID - We're all familiar with the popular saying, "turning trash into treasure." But sewage?

Well, a new partnership between the village and Casella Organics is doing something along those lines: turning sludge into savings.

Sludge, or "biosolids," as it is often called, is a byproduct of the waste water treatment process.

"A lot of folks don't know what happens after the toilet flushes," Jen McDonnell, a spokeswoman for Casella Organics said. "Finding beneficial ways to use it (sludge) is very valuable."

McDonnell explained the process as "eating up the human solids" in waste water. Casella Organics then takes that sludge one step further, turning it into fertilizer through another process known as "advanced stabilization technology."

The Grassland Processing facility in Chateaugay processes some 30,000 to 40,000 tons a year, McDonnell said. After the sludge is treated there are still nutrients inside, which comes in handy as fertilizer.

"It can be used for many things. Our product is a class A fertilizer," McDonnell said. "But it's mostly used for agriculture."

Mayor Craig Randall said the village did not go after the partnership, but was contacted by the company. It was common sense to go ahead with the recycling plan, he said.

"The attractive feature of this was we already have the cost of disposing this, and environmentally it was more attractive to take a product like this sludge that is simply filling up a landfill somewhere." Randall said.

The village's contract with the company is for a three-year period. Lake Placid produces 750 wet tons of sludge a year.

There will be some moderate savings from switching to Casella, Randall said.

"As long as the cost is no more than what we are paying now, it makes sense," Randall said. "I can't address in the future if we will continue to follow through with it."

The contract with the village stated there was a $47.50 per ton processing fee at the Chateaugay facility and a $22 transportation fee per ton.

Brad Hathaway, the village's superintendent of the public works said the village does not plan to have Casella transport the sludge because that would be too expensive.

"Nothing here changes," Hathaway said in front of the waste water treatment plant. "We're going to continue to load it on dump trucks. At this point in time, with the amount of sludge we produce, we can handle it ourselves."

Hathaway said the distance from the village to Casella's facility is about the same as to the Franklin County Solid Waste landfill where the village currently dumps sludge.

"It's basically just being dumped there," Hathaway said. "The size of that landfill has increased since we started hauling sludge there."

A majority of the sludge will now go to Casella Organics, but they won't completley cut the landfill off, Hathaway added.

"A lot of it depends on how far towns are from the facility," McDonnell said. "Some people do (drive further) because they see the value in recycling."

Lake Placid stores the sludge during the winter, when transporting it is harder.

Randall said Casella does a good job at recycling and that there has been an improvement overall in recycling technology since he was a young man.

"When I grew up here, all we had was a dump truck and a man who took trash to the landfill and dumped it," Randall said.

McDonnell said the company hopes to get more people to start reycling.

"We're trying to get people to think of waste as recycling and get better use from it," she said.



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