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The Daily Ardmoreite
  • Yard waste, sludge make potent mix

  • Ardmore Wastewater Treatment Plant Superintendent Carol Anderson oversees one of the most unusual projects in municipal government. Employees under her direction at the city’s compost facility mix sewage sludge with yard waste to produce a product that is so valuable, the city could package and sell it.


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  • Ardmore Wastewater Treatment Plant Superintendent Carol Anderson oversees one of the most unusual projects in municipal government. Employees under her direction at the city’s compost facility mix sewage sludge with yard waste to produce a product that is so valuable, the city could package and sell it.
    Sewage sludge is the end product of the wastewater treatment process. Only non-hazardous sludge solids are generated at the Ardmore Treatment Plant, and the treated sludge meets all federal Environmental Protection Agency requirements. Ardmore Public Utilities Director Shawn Geurin said the compost center solves the problem of how to dispose of the large volume of sludge produced each day during the wastewater treatment process.
    “The facility can handle as much as 9,600 pounds of de-watered sludge per day,” he said. “This eliminates the need to transport as much as 40,000 gallons of sludge each day to a land application site or landfill.”
    The composting facility also gives the city a way to get rid of all the brush and tree limbs Operation Pride employees collect from the curbs outside city residences. Once the limbs are collected, they are taken to the Operation Pride Drop Off Center where they are fed into a grinder and spit out as wood chips. The chips are then taken to the compost center, where they are stored until needed.
    The composting process takes place inside a 24,000-square-foot building which is located just south of the wastewater treatment plant. Because the composting is completed indoors, it offers the benefit of operating year-round in all weather conditions. Basically, the wood chips are mixed with de-watered sludge, cured in five 195-foot-long bays, screened and eventually distributed as a nutrient-rich compost called “Okie Dirt.”
    Geurin said the heat generated during the composting process completely eliminates all human and plant pathogens. The entire process is closely monitored by computer, and compost samples are regularly tested to ensure quality and safety.
    Benham Companies engineer Tom Mansur designed the facility, which received the 2008 Grand Conceptor Award from the Oklahoma chapter of the American Council of Engineering Companies.
    “I am proud of the plant and the way it has operated reliably and safely since it came on line,” he said. “But I can truly say that I am most proud of the way the city and its staff has made it work.”
    Okie Dirt is safe enough to put on yards, flower beds and vegetable gardens. Compost adds organic matter to the soil and reduces the need for watering. The City of Goldsboro, N.C., has a similar compost facility but sells the finished product to the public.
    “Right now we are giving it away,” Geurin said. “We keep some at the Operation Pride site where you can load it yourself. You can also come to the water treatment plant where they will load it for you if you have a dump truck or trailer and tarp (no pickups).”
    Page 2 of 2 - Assistant Utilities Director Blake Rudd said the facility is the only one of its kind in the state.
    “We are very proud of it,” he said. “It’s environmentally friendly, and it’s top of the line.”
    And if anyone is wondering how effective Okie Dirt is, just ask Anderson.
    “Last year, I mixed it 50-50 with some topsoil, and my tomatoes did great. I had them into November last year,” she said.
    Steve Biehn, 221-6546
    steve.biehn@ardmoreite.com
     

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