Biosolids Composting

When Win-Win is also a Marriage Made in Recycling Heaven

Composting is nature's way of fertilizing and reconditioning soil by decomposing plant material and animal wastes into a rich, dark humus – nature's own soil elixir. Biosolids or sewage sludge are the nutrient-rich organic materials resulting from the treatment of domestic sewage in a wastewater treatment facility. When combined with decomposing plant material such as our yard waste, biosolid composting technologies accelerate this natural process under controlled conditions – the sludge is dewatered, mixed with a bulking agent (e.g., wood chips, leaf and yard waste, saw dust), and allowed to decompose aerobically for a period of time. The process produces a well-mixed, fully-decomposed soil amendment. A perfect marriage.

In August 2014, the ECUA received a permit to construct and operate a Biosolids Composting Facility at its Central Water Reclamation Facility (CWRF) from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. This facility was designed to combine yard trash that is collected by ECUA's Sanitation Department to be ground up and used as a bulking agent, to compost biosolids sludge, produced by the CWRF. This process allows the yard trash that was previously being disposed of in a landfill to be recycled through composting, while allowing the CWRF to reduce the cost of natural gas, which is used to dry the biosolids sludge. A "win-win"! The final composted product is an environmentally beneficial soil amendment, which is being sold to help offset the cost of the program.

Construction of the CWRF Biosolids Composting Facility began in April 2015. By late October, construction of the facility was at a stage that allowed the first windrows to be formed utilizing the yard trash and sludge from the CWRF. The first batch of Emerald Coast Bloom was produced and available in late 2015. This and all other compost produced at the facility is tested to ensure quality and then marketed to sod farms, soil blending companies, agricultural operations, golf courses, landscapers and plant nurseries. The facility official opened in the spring of 2016.