Few water and sewer customers think about the ultimate fate of all the things that go down our drains, but we do think about the bills we have to pay for the convenience and security of a municipal wastewater system. Now customers can have the satisfaction of getting something back for the money they “flush away.”
This spring, the Penn Yan municipal wastewater treatment plant began distributing free compost to all Penn Yan municipal utility customers as part of a plan to upgrade the plant’s capacity to handle increased solid waste from the sewer system as well as the 25,000 to 50,000 gallons per month brought in by private septic haulers. The compost is created in a new system for handling the sewer sludge left behind at the end of wastewater reclamation.
Plant Manager Bengt Sward explains that now equipped with an efficient press, the sludge is more effectively de-watered at the plant. This drier product is then mixed with woodchips brought in by the village and county crews, and placed in long piles atop a vent pipe to “cook.” The beneficial bacteria in the aerobic digestion raises the temperature to over 130 degrees for 5 days, killing off any dangerous pathogens in the sludge. The temperature is checked and logged twice daily, and the compost tested for pathogens at the end.