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Bloomington is facing rapidly escalating costs for disposal of sludge from its wastewater treatment facility. Sludge is the solid that remains after waste-water treatment and liquid removal. The Utilities Service Board of the city heard a presentation from Efrat Feferman, Assistant Director of Finance for city’s Utilities Department on the rising costs and possible short-term responses. Feferman says that the costs have risen substantially each successive year.
These are external costs to the department for removal and disposal by private contractors. Feferman predicted that this year’s costs will probably reach three-hundred thousand dollars unless changes are made. Only one-hundred and twenty-five thousand dollars has been budgeted for the entire year for this item. The department has done an analysis of what it would cost the department if the city took control of the removal and disposal process. They have also solicited two bids from private companies for managing sludge removal to city landfills. However, it is anticipated that the city’s landfills will reach capacity in two or three years. John Langley, Deputy Director of the Department, explained to the Board that the rising cost of sludge disposal is due to rising volumes. He then told the Board about some of the changes that the Department has adopted to reduce this volume which includes no longer taking any out of county waste disposal and discouraging the use of garbage disposals.
The board also heard from Tamara Roberts, Pretreatment Co-ordinator for the Utilities Department, about two treatment compliance orders the department issued against two local businesses, Upland Brewery and Organized Living. These Significant Non-Compliance orders, or SNO’s, were issued due to the discovery of excessive phosphorous in the waste-water of both, and excessive zinc and copper in the latter’s. The orders require a lowering of these discharges and subjection to monthly inspection by the utilities department.