Souderton looks at viability of investment in sludge dryer


Despite the day's snowy weather, the Souderton Borough Council met for a brief session March 2 and discussed the newest option for the borough's sludge removal.

The borough has been looking for a device to dewater the sludge produced by the in-town treatment facility for nearly two years. Removing the water would allow the borough to apply the sludge to land, which would save on hauling costs.

Council member Brian Goshow said the sewer committee had met with a sales representative last week to look into a Therma-Flite IC 800 Bio-Scru dryer system for sludge drying, the smallest unit manufactured. 'It might be the best of what we've seen so far,' he said.

The treatment plant currently uses a filter press, which gets the treated sludge to about 18 percent solid, with 80 percent water. This is then taken to a landfill site. With the Therma-Flite system, the treated sludge is 90 percent solid and 10 percent moisture, well within the dryness requirements for land application. Thus, Therma-Flite also allows for the creation of a Class A Bio-soil, which allows borough residents the option of bagging and picking up the sludge to use in their gardens and other landscaping projects.

Goshow said at this point chief operator Salvatore DeSimone 'needs to crunch some numbers, see what it'll take.'
Borough Manager Mike Coll said the prices for a brand new unit were competitive with the other models the council had been considering, many of which were used. Council member Ed Hunsicker, who was also at the sewer committee meeting, said he thought the borough would have to build another building to house the unit, as well as a space to store and bag the treated sludge. 'I think we ought to look at it real severely,' he said. 'We'll save money in the long run, but we do need to crunch some numbers.'

Coll later said he felt the system could fit within the confines of the existing building, but that significant work would have to be done at the head of the plant to remove unwanted waste out of the process. Another advantage, Goshow said at the meeting, was it was an automotive unit that ran on a continuous flow. 'It's not a batch unit,' he said, 'so we'd be able to make it almost operator free.'

Young noted that the California-based Therma-Flite wasn't a new company, and 'had a proven track record.'
The current system used by the borough takes the sludge produced by the borough and puts it through a belt filter press, which reduces it to 20 percent solids. The final product is then taken to a landfill.

Goshow noted the costs of using the unit were significantly lower than the borough's current system. Removal of sludge currently costs the borough $120 a ton. However, the Therma-Flite system drastically reduces the weight and quantity of the treated sludge.

Heating source options for the IC 800 model include electric, natural gas, propane and #2 fuel oil. 'We came up with $30,000 to $40,000 per year for the cost of natural gas [if used],' Goshow said. 'This year we had $120,000 budgeted [for 2009] for sludge removal. If we can eliminate that cost, it'd pay for itself in a few years.' Currently the borough's engineers are looking over more comprehensive plans about the unit, and how to adapt it to the current system.

Of all the models the council has considered, Coll said Therma-Flite seems like the front runner. In other matters:

  • A motion was made to prepare and advertise a new Curb and Sidewalk Ordinance for formal consideration at the next borough council meeting. Coll asked that the ordinance be discussed at the next work session to adjust a few remaining details.
  • Authorization was given of a 90-day trial of a 2-hour parking restriction between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. daily, except Sundays and holidays for the nine center parking spaces in the new Main Street parking lot.
  • Council member Jonathan Gardenier expressed concern over the position of the utility box at the new traffic system being installed on Main Street, saying he had heard concerns from several residents regarding visibility driving east from Reliance Road onto Main Street.

'You can't see anything,' he said. Gardenier also felt the utility box affected the aesthetics of the pocket park on the corner. 'The pocket park area, that's been destroyed,' he said. 'I know we can't do anything, but consider plans like that. I know there was great concern to get that through. But in the future we have to take due review.'
Council member Richard Halbom agreed the placement of the box 'looks atrocious.'

Goshow asked whether the utility box could be moved to a different location, and Council President John Young asked if the box could be reduced in size. Coll said the council would have to talk to the contractor if they wanted to look into changes.

  • The council held a moment of silence for Quakertown solider Mark Baum who was killed in Iraq last month, and was buried at Immanuel Leidy's Cemetery in Franconia Township earlier in the day.
  • The next Souderton Borough Council meeting is Monday, April 6, at 7:30 p.m. at the borough office on West Summit Street.

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