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Springdale Water, Sewer Commission Approves Fuel, Sludge Related Items

Approvals Could Save Money And Help Businesses

Posted: July 17, 2014 at 1:30 a.m.

SPRINGDALE -- The city's Water and Sewer Commission approved two items at Wednesday's meeting that could help save money.

The commission unanimously approved a contract for an engineering study of a sludge drying facility and buying two compressed natural gas vehicles.

How Does It Work?

Sludge Drying Facilities

Sludge comes from a facility where sewage is treated to remove anything that can cause disease in humans. Sludge is mostly made up of human waste and solids left over after the treatment process is finished. The sludge can then be taken to a drying facility. Three methods can be used: direct heat uses fire; indirect thermal liquid, which works by flowing a liquid through a machine and controlling the temperature of the liquid; the third type uses chemicals.

Source: Heath Ward, Springdale Water Utilities

What Is It?

Compressed Natural Gas

Compressed natural gas is a fuel that can be used in vehicles. It is weighs less than gasoline or diesel, and burns cleaner by emitting less carbon dioxide. Vehicles that operate off this type of fuel are more expensive than their gasoline counterparts, but the fuel is cheaper than gasoline or diesel.

Source: Staff Report

Heath Ward, executive director of Springdale Water Utilities, said staff members will work with representatives of McClelland Consulting Engineers of Fayetteville on the sludge drying study. The study will determine cost of a facility, the best locations for the dryer and the best process to use.

The city's contract with Waste Management allows them to take sludge to the landfill in Tontitown, Ward said. Renewal of the five-year contract is up for discussion next year, said Doug Sprouse, Springdale mayor. He said he hopes the city won't need to include sludge in the contract in another five years.

It's possible Waste Management could quit accepting sludge, Ward said. Utility officials would have to take sludge to another landfill, maybe as far away as Missouri, if that were to happen.

A drying facility in Springdale would allow the city to have more control over the process, Ward said. It would also ensure a place for the sludge to go as the city grows, said Rick Pulvirenti, director of engineering for Springdale Water Utilities.

"If we don't get on it now, we're going to be left behind, and be playing catchup at some point," Pulvirenti said.

A more permanent process for handling sludge, one that is managed by the city, could be attractive to businesses looking to move to the area, Ward said. The end product can be used for fertilizer, and would be available for businesses to buy.

Rogers, Bentonville and Fayetteville already have similar drying facilities, Ward said. There are about 10 in the state.

Earl Rausch, utilities superintendent for Rogers, said Springdale officials visited the facility in Rogers, which is about 2 years old. Rogers sells dry sludge to companies for $17.60 per ton.

Rausch said he recommends any city officials considering a sludge drying facility look at all options. There are many ways to create a facility, including many types of dryers from which to choose.

Officials hope to have the study by Jan. 1. It will take about a year to get a dryer, Pulvirenti said. The facility should be complete in two to two and a half years.

The approval to buy two compressed natural gas vehicles comes after the Arkansas Energy Office's announcement they will give a $400,000 rebate to two Kum & Go locations in Springdale to provide the fuel. One location is near Interstate 49 and Elm Springs Road, and the other is on Robinson Avenue near the Springdale Municipal Airport, according to a news release from Springdale Water Utilities.

One of the vehicles will cost $33,834 and the other will cost $32,340, Ward said. The vehicles are more expensive than their gasoline counterparts, but the fuel is cheaper than gasoline or diesel.

The two fuel locations will be the first in Northwest Arkansas to offer compressed natural gas, said Rich Davis, manager of community and government affairs for Source Gas. Other locations are in Jonesboro, Damascus, North Little Rock, Little Rock, Fort Smith and Conway. The new stations could attract businesses, who use the fuel, to the area.

Springdale Water Utilities should have the vehicles in 90 to 100 days, Ward said. The first of the two stations will start offering fuel in January.

"Basically, this will make Springdale the CNG hub for Northwest Arkansas," he said.

NW News on 07/17/2014

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