Delhi approves waste-to-fuel plan

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By Ashleigh Rogers
Holt Journal staff writer

These greenhouses are currently being used in Europe to treat the waste product into fuel. Delhi township's greenhouses will be similar to these

The Delhi Township Board of Trustees decided at a town meeting on March 15 to approve construction of two 400-foot greenhouses that will convert human waste to fuel to generate power.

The project consists of a final treatment of the township’s waste water, which will be done through a de-watering mechanism and a sludge drying process. This type of waste treatment is used in Europe.

“Other areas of the world are being told that this is the way to go and this is our opportunity,” said Township Supervisor Stuart Goodrich. Goodrich explained that this project is intended to be the final step toward making the township’s treatment plant a complete circle of renewable energy. The “green” stimulus money offered to the township in the amount of $2.5 million, confirmed the completion of the plant’s circle. The money came from the state’s Clean Water Revolving Fund.

The township plans to fund the rest of the project through a low interest – loan and grants.

Trustee Derek Bajema voted against the project, his reason being the extra $1.20 per month fee on township residents’ monthly sewer bill. “Along with other fee increases, township residents are paying more and more per year just to flush the toilet,” Bajema explained.

Delhi Township’s Director of Public Services Sandra Diorka explained that the sludge drying process is projected to be $20,000 cheaper than simply hauling the wastes away. “This doesn’t include the income from selling the product,” she explained. “This could range from $12,000 to $18,000 per year.”

Other communities such as Eaton Rapids and Michigan State University have begun to show interest in the project, as well. However, Michigan State’s decision is on hold while it applies to amend its air permit, which allows the burning of the wastes for fuel.

Construction is expected to begin in April of 2012.

One thought on “Delhi approves waste-to-fuel plan

  1. In response to Delhi waste-to-fuel project:

    Common sense and economic sense should prevail. Current land application of the Class A bio-solids is a common and proven practice. It is also an economical and environmentally friendly practice. Farmers benefit from the use of the Class A bio-solids as a fertilizer.

    Pursuit of the Sludge Dryer project will only add costs to the waste treatment process with very few, if any, benefits that will be realized; And, farmers would lose out because they would no longer be able to use the Class A bio-solids as a fertilizer which they get for free. This would bump their costs of doing business and also the price of the products they produce.

    The project is a “nice idea”. A “nice thought”. However, it doesn’t make sense to add additional costs for no benefit. Delhi POTW will tell you it will reduce costs to haul Class A bio-solids away, but this is only a $20,000 annual savings for a $5,600,000 project. POTW does not say if hauling cost savings will be offset by increased costs to handle and dry the sludge, which is an additional process. Makes sense if you add a process, that costs will go up more than the $20,000 annual savings.

    Who will pay? Residents of Delhi Township. What benefit will residents receive? None really. Certainly nothing worth paying for. Residents would rather use that money to pay for skyrocketing food and gas costs.

    Let’s hope the township board wakes up and applies common sense and economic sense in deciding the fate of a costly project.

    This is a $5.6 million solution to a $55,000 a year problem that isn’t even a problem.

    Delhi Township’s handling of sludge in a “green” manner is above and beyond already. In fact the majority of POTW’s do not go as far as Delhi POTW in handling sludge. The majority of POTW’s produce Class B bio-solids, while Delhi is producing Class A bio-solids. To add another process to handle Class A sludge is not economical and does not make sense.

    This project is a waste of resident’s green!