Auburn looking at ways to decrease sewer sludge disposal costs

The city of Auburn spends over $330,000 a year disposing of waste produced through its sewage water treatment process. On Thursday night, the Auburn City Council heard a presentation that discussed options on how the city could save money on its sludge disposal costs.

Currently, the city disposes of over 6,000 tons of sludge at a rate of $54 per ton at the Ontario County landfill each year, Tim Carpenter, an engineer with MRB Group, told the council. The city also discards some sludge at the municipal landfill.

The sludge the city produces, which Carpenter described as looking like “wet coffee grounds,” is 21-percent solid and is classified as “unstabilized.” Auburn has a special dispensation with Ontario County landfill to dump its sludge there, which is another reason for the high disposal cost. Carpenter said the dispensation could be revoked by the Department of Environmental Conservation at any point in the future.

Producing a drier, more stabilized sludge could save the city thousands of dollars a year. For example, if the city continues to produce unstabilized sludge but reduces its water content by 9 percent, it could save about $90,000 a year in disposal costs. Auburn could save $270,000 a year by making a 75-percent dry sludge that is a class A, stabilized bio solid.

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