MARQUETTE - Construction is nearly finished on a new biosolids storage facility, located on the grounds of the Marquette Area Wastewater Treatment Facility, that will help increase Marquette city's capacity to store and effectively use its biosolids.
"It will provide us with winter storage," said Curt Goodman, head of the city's water and wastewater department. "We'll be able to use it for agricultural purposes for fertilizer for area farmers, recycling is a beneficial use. It will reduce operations for wastewater by handling the material in a more cost effective way."
With all the walls up, crews worked this week to pour the concrete floor of the building, which Goodman said was about 75 percent complete.
Workers pour cement as a part of construction of a new biosolids storage facility at the Marquette Area Wastewater Treatment Facility. (Journal photo by Matt Keiser)
Current regulations laid down by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality do not allow for the use of biosolids on frozen ground, meaning much of the material processed by the wastewater facility is sent to landfills over the winter months.
The new 65 by 108 foot storage facility will allow for the storage of the biosolids for up to 180 days - an ability mandated by the MDEQ. Without the new facility - which has a storage capacity of 1,200 cubic yards - the city can only store the material for about 100 days.
"It allows for more sustainability, instead of putting it in the landfill," Goodman said. "If we had to take it to the landfill, it would be buried. With the nutrient value and the organic component of the biosolids, it provides a great fertilizer value."
Goodman said the material is a valuable resource that has many applications, including use in mine reclamation projects and on agricultural land. The addition of the new facility should also allow the department to branch out in its efforts to utilize the biosolids in other ways.
"It's a valuable material that can be used as a fertilizer supplement," Goodman said. "(The new facility) give us a lot more flexibility for final disposal because of the way we handle the material. We'll be able to look at other application methods. It could be used for forest application, we'll continue mine reclamation, potential composting. We couldn't do that before due to a lack of on-site storage."
The Marquette City Commission approved construction of the new facility over the summer, at an amount not to exceed $444,987. The bid was awarded to Premeau Construction.
The new facility is expected to save the city up to $31,000 annually on hauling costs.
Goodman said he hopes to one day be able to sell the biosolids.
"That is the long-term strategy, to develop a market for this material," Goodman said.
Jackie Stark can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242.