Pasco County’s sludge problem appears to have a solution.
Commissioners approved an agreement with biosolids management company, Merrell Bros. Inc., to build a facility that will dry out 23,000 tons of the county’s wet sludge annually and convert the sludge into saleable dry fertilizer.
In addition, Merrell can contract with other counties to dispose of their sludge, for a total of 50,000 tons each year.
Merrell Bros. made a workshop presentation to commissioners on May 17. Commissioners gave the green light on June 21 at their meeting in New Port Richey to construct the biosolids facility.
The agreement “allows us to control our own destiny for biosolids waste disposal,” said Flip Mellinger, assistant county administrator for utility services.
Under the agreement, Merrell will build and operate the facility, which would be owned by the county and located at the Shady Hills solid waste complex.
Construction costs cannot exceed $13 million. However, the county also would be responsible for about $1.2 million in contingency funds. Design and construction of the facility will take about two years.
Currently, much of the county’s sludge is composted or hauled to landfills in Georgia, or to St. Cloud. However, tipping fees are increasing, and disposal sites are decreasing as state regulations restrict new permits.
The annual cost for sludge disposal to the county is about $1.3 million a year. With the biosolids facility, the county could save $600,000 or more, partially based on sharing in a portion of fertilizer sales and fees paid by Merrell.
The county’s agreement with Merrell is for 15 years, with three, 5-year renewals.
The facility will have a greenhouse “pod,” a pasteurization building and an odor control system.
Published June 29, 2016