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Government - Local

Plano treatment plant waste used for farm fertilizer

Solid waste from Plano’s sanitary treatment plant is being used for fertilizer on farm fields, city council members were told at a recent meeting.

Darrin Boyer, public works and water reclamation plant director, received approval to spend $1,277,571 for a machine that will treat solid waste so it can be trucked away from the plant for fertilizer.

Walter E. Deuchler Associates, Inc., engineers, reviewed the bids and recommended Whittaker Construction and Excavating Inc., get the project as the low bidder.

Five firms bid on the project with bids ranging from $1,397,000 to the low bid of $1,299,571, Mark Halm, project manager for Deuchler, said. All were within 9.35 percent of the low bid, he added.

“This project has been in the works for about four years. We have the money to do the project. We have over $1.6 million in the department,” Boyer told council members.

He has been using his present machine for the past 12 years. “It’s more than 30 years old. When parts need replacing, we have to make them,” Boyer said.

Boyer explained how the waste material is being used by farmers as an additional source of phosphorus for their fertilizers.

“This is an ever-changing environment. It keeps growing in mass,” he said, referring to the material.

“This is the waste part of it that we throw away to keep good balance between organics and microorganisms in treatment tank,” he said.

Boyer said the equipment he is purchasing, deals with the waste or material that they throw away.

“It is 0.5 percent solid but this machine converts it into 3 to 3.5 percent solid,” he said.

He said the machine digests or converts the material into a very stable biomass or sludge for the farmer. Boyer said the machine provides the final step in digestion of the material at the plant.

This process removes the phosphorous from the waste material at his plant and transfers it into the material that he takes to the farms.

“The farmers love it because it is a good fertilizer. It subsidizes the phosphorous in his fertilizer,” he said.

He said the amount they produce each year is enough to treat 25-30 acres. Everything Plano produces is taken by one farmer who has a large amount of land. He rotates the material between different fields each time, Boyer said.

“It saves the farmer money he was spending on fertilizer and it also saves us money. Four years ago it cost us $45,000 a year to get rid of this material. Today, our amount of material has increased by about 60 percent and we’re able to get rid of it for $28,000 to $30,000,” Boyer said.

He said he looked at a new machine that the City of Sycamore has and noted that it is very efficient and economical. It reduces costs and man-hours for operating the machine because of being more automated, he added.

Council members also approved paying Xylem of Mokena, $3,804 for replacement of a pump in the water department.

In other news, the City of Plano has agreed to pay for up to 10 percent or $25,000 of the cost for reconstruction and upgrading of the traffic signals at U.S. Route 34 and Eldamain Road.

City Attorney Tom Grant told City Council members at a recent meeting that according to an intergovernmental agreement between the city and Kendall County, the city had agreed to pay up to $25,000 for its payment for work done on the portion of the project within the city.

The project extends along Route 34 from Eldamain Road east to Center Parkway, Grant said.

The work was done as part of the county’s reconstruction of the intersection, according to Grant.

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