Friday, November 19, 2010

Channel 4 investigates Metro Water's inability to follow through on biosolids promises

I attended the original neighborhood discussions with Metro Water Services years ago on the construction and operation of the biosolids facility at the Central Wastewater Treatment Plant. At that time, one of the selling points MWS used beyond the odor abatement that would finally benefit the surrounding community was the ability to make money by selling the dried biosolid pellets produced by the de-watering and drying process as fertilizer.

Local television journalist Demetria Kalodimos did an effective job yesterday at underscoring the optimistic projections of MWS spokesperson Sonya Havat and contrasting them with MWS hedges after a year of producing pellets that fail to meet fertilizer industry standards:
Those sewage pellets it was producing were eventually supposed to be sold.

"We were paying $30 a ton. We're paying Manco $20 to use it on reclamation sites, so when we have the final product, we'll be selling for $7.50 a ton and not paying for the hauling," Harvat said in April 2009 about the cost of hauling sewage versus baking it into pellets. "It will be a true savings."

A year later, it's a softer sell.

"We haven't sold pellets, but again, selling pellets was not our goal; it was definitely a sidebar, and it's something that we aren't counting on, and it's something that has never truly been counted on," said Harvat.
As a neighbor of Metro Water Services treatment facility, I can accept that projections may be flawed and have to be re-evaluated. I can accept interruptions due to the May flooding. What I have a difficult time accepting is the lack of communication from MWS. That we had to find out about this from the media rather than directly from our own neighbor is galling, and it makes me less sympathetic to the stark contrast in sales assessments from 2009 and 2010.

Metro Water Services should have been communicating with Salemtown on their mistakes and on the reasons why noxious odors emanated from their plant well into September. Otherwise, it just looks like a pattern of covering their collective butts for unrealistic assessments cynically used to get our support.

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