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Updated: 12/23/2011 06:02:27AM

Private sludge dewatering plant proposed

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It’s a dirty job, but someone has got to do it. And they’d like to do it in Fort Meade.

Two entrepreneurs have proposed to city officials a plan that would bring what is termed a “septage receiving facility” to the Fort Meade industrial park behind Badcock Furniture on U.S. 17.

In essence, the deal calls for a trade-off between the city and the duo who run a similar operation in Holiday, Fla.

The firm would cover the job of disposing about 250,000 gallons of wastewater treatment plant sludge in return for being allowed to pump approximately 100,000 gallons per day back to the city’s treatment plant.

Currently, the city spends about $87,000 a year on sludge disposal, according to City Manager Fred Hilliard. That cost would come off the books if the plan is approved, but Hilliard did not know when asked at a city commission meeting earlier this month how much it would cost the city to handle the additional burden of treating another 100,000 gallons of water a day.

“We would pick up and dispose of the city’s sludge, sending the water back to the plant at no cost to the city,” according to a written proposal submitted to city officials.

“We’ll have to run through those numbers,” Hilliard told commissioners, who were simply being briefed on the proposal voted to move forward on the matter, although no final decisions were made. “We’ll fine tune the numbers.”

Since there is no sewage line connected to the site, the proposed facility would haul the water to a lift station to send it on to the sewage treatment plant.

At the sludge dewatering facility, material would eventually pass through a belt-filter press, and the leftover “cake” is taken to a landfill.

Virtually the entire operation is located inside a steel building, with a canvas hood or press pulling vapor through a scrubber that is located outside, according to the proposal.

Hilliard indicated that there is little or no odor associated with the process, based on his visit to the Holiday site. Fort Meade Public Works Director Frankie Curlee also visited the Pasco County site.

“It didn’t have a lot of odor with it. Very benign, really,” Hilliard said. “I’ve worked around waste water plants and solid waste enough to know what it smells like. It’s a good idea and it’s something that they can use to help benefit the city because it’s needed.”

Hilliard said the city should have no problem accommodating the 100,000 gallons of day. The city’s plant is designed to handle about a million gallons a day, and currently is only treating about 400,000 day.

The firm would move into an existing empty building in the industrial park.

“That building is so large that nobody’s ever going to know we’re out there,” Lanier added.

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