New dewatering process benefits ratepayers, environment
Published on December 05, 2022
Rarely is something related to wastewater celebrated, but that is what Fort Worth officials did last Thursday. It was the grand opening of the new biosolids processing facility on Greenbelt Road.
Biosolids are a nutrient-rich product of the wastewater treatment process. Biosolids begin as waste — poop to be exact. Scientists developed a wastewater treatment process that turns what people flush into valuable nutrients and renewable energy.
The new $59 million biosolids facility replaces belt presses with a drum dryer to create a pellet product that has 90% of the water content removed. Fort Worth achieves a 40% reduction in operating costs and savings of almost $2 million annually.
Because of rising program costs and an increase in odor complaints, Fort Worth decided in 2017 to investigate and evaluate alternatives to the way it processed biosolids. A Biosolids Master Plan was commissioned and site visits were made to see and understand the various options available.
The utility subsequently issued a request for proposals. On Dec. 10, 2019, Fort Worth City Council approved entering into a contract with Synagro to design, build and operate a new processing facility.
“This facility is state-of-the-art and the best option from both cost and environmental perspectives. Odor complaints have gone away. The pellet product provides Synagro with options for its use, including as a renewable fuel,” said Water Director Chris Harder.
Being able to finance the project at a very low interest rate through the EPA State Revolving Loan Fund administered by the Texas Water Development Board was significant for ratepayers. Harder noted the utility has not had a rate increase in three years and the low interest rate helped in making that happen.
“Synagro is proud to partner with the City of Fort Worth on this important environmental infrastructure project. The new biosolids drying facility is a world-class, sustainable solution that provides an improved environmental footprint, while simultaneously creating cost savings for the city’s ratepayers,” said Mathew Busch, Synagro’s senior vice president of facilities.
Busch added that too often, cities must choose between improving the environment and working within budgetary constraints. He said Fort Worth was able to use an innovative public-private partnership to meet both objectives.
Photo: Water Director Chris Harder, Texas Water Development Board Chair Brooke Paup, Mayor Pro Tem Gyna Bivens, Synagro Vice President Matt Busch, Councilmember Alan Blaylock, Councilmember Carlos Flores, Councilmember Jared Williams, City Manager David Cooke, Bob Pence with Freese and Nichols, the firm that designed the facility for Synagro.
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