Catawba County owns and operates the Blackburn Landfill, a sanitary landfill for the disposal of municipal solid waste (MSW). Methane generated within the landfill is collected and utilized to generate electricity which is sold to Duke Power. In the process of combusting methane to generate electricity a significant amount of heat energy is produced, which is not currently utilized.
Catawba County, along with the cities of Hickory and Conover, currently owns an in-vessel composting facility that processes sludge from these municipalities. Liquid sludge is transported by tanker trucks to this facility where it is dewatered and composted. Most of the compost product is marketed for reuse. While the process is sound, the operating cost is relatively high, with unit processing cost exceeding $400 per dry ton of solids. An alternative approach to biosolids management has been proposed, based on utilizing the waste heat energy from the power generators at the landfill site. In considering this regional biosolids facility, the concept of an eco-complex at the county sanitary landfill site is formed.
Wastewater treatment facilities (WWTFs) located within Catawba County generate a waste residual product. Currently, a majority of the waste residuals are transported to the regional sludge composting facility (RSCF) owned and operated by the Hickory Regional Sludge Consortium (HRSC). The current members of the HRSC are Catawba County and the cities of Hickory and Conover. The HRSC members deliver wastewater residuals to the RSCF on a daily basis. The city of Newton (located in Catawba County and a previous part owner of HRSC) owns and operates WWTFs that generate wastewater residuals. Residuals from the Newton facilities are lime stabilized and land applied. However, the city of Newton delivers wastewater residuals to the composting facility on an emergency basis.
Catawba County currently does not own or operate any WWTFs. The county’s original interest in the HRSC was a means to dispose of septage. Because of odor concerns, the disposal of septage at the facility has largely been discontinued. The city of Hickory has made provisions at its WWTFs to receive septage from the county.
Catawba County is making its share of the RSCF available to the smaller towns in the county when they need to dispose of their wastewater residuals. The sources that come in under the county’s umbrella include some septage, residuals from the town of Claremont’s WWTF, and residuals from the town of Maiden’s WWTF.