Changing Times in Residuals and Biosolids Management

By George Martin 

May 7, 2013 

 

As the 503 regulations turn 20 years old, we face many new challenges with the same question asked in our industry for years: "What method do we use to reuse or manage our community’s residuals or biosolids?" According to a recent WEF position statement, biosolids "are a renewable resource that is too valuable to waste in the context of growing needs for renewable energy and sustainability." Times have changed, and so have the opportunities.

 

In 1993 the U.S. economic landscape looked very different than today. The industrial engine was churning, the housing market was expanding and utilities across the country were providing the infrastructure needed to support these areas.  Rate structures and financial plans were laid on the foundation of continued customer-base growth generating increasing amounts of waste and utilities expanded. During this unprecedented growth period, 503 was enacted and halted some traditional disposal methods such as ocean dumping of what was then considered waste. One alternative was landfilling, but landfills were already overburdened and not easily or quickly expanded. They increased tipping fees in response to the increased demand, a price tag that at the time could be accommodated due to an ever-expanding customer base.
 

Fast forward to 2013, when the United States is continuing the slow recovery from our recession. Customer bases have declined and shifted, water conservation efforts have decreased billable flows, and the industrial engine now is idle at best.  Most utilities have to find ways to continue to protect public health with less and are working under a heightened sense of economic pressure.  Older biosolids and residual disposal alternatives may not look as attractive now, especially in light of the capability for renewable energy generation from wastewater. Utilities can produce clean water, recover nutrients, and potentially reduce the nation's dependence on fossil fuel through the production and use of renewable energy, and biosolids can play a part in that effort. Link to WEF Renewable Energy Generation from Wastewater Position Statement.

 

Our challenge going forward is to develop cost-effective practices that are sustainable environmentally and economically. A big focus at Residuals and Biosolids 2013  will be how to develop emerging opportunities for sustainable resource recovery, and that’s a question for communities everywhere.

 05/07/2013Permanent link

Changing Times in Residuals & Biosolids Management  ()
 As the 503 regulations turn 20 years old, we face many new challenges with the same question asked in our industry for years: "What method do we use to reuse or manage our community’s residuals or biosolids?" According to a recent WEF position statement, biosolids "are a renewable resource that is too valuable to waste in the context of growing needs for renewable energy and sustainability." Times have changed, and so have the opportunities.

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Changing Times in Residuals & Biosolids Management

 Permanent link

Changing Times in Residuals and Biosolids Management

By George Martin 

May 7, 2013 

 

As the 503 regulations turn 20 years old, we face many new challenges with the same question asked in our industry for years: "What method do we use to reuse or manage our community’s residuals or biosolids?" According to a recent WEF position statement, biosolids "are a renewable resource that is too valuable to waste in the context of growing needs for renewable energy and sustainability." Times have changed, and so have the opportunities.

 

In 1993 the U.S. economic landscape looked very different than today. The industrial engine was churning, the housing market was expanding and utilities across the country were providing the infrastructure needed to support these areas.  Rate structures and financial plans were laid on the foundation of continued customer-base growth generating increasing amounts of waste and utilities expanded. During this unprecedented growth period, 503 was enacted and halted some traditional disposal methods such as ocean dumping of what was then considered waste. One alternative was landfilling, but landfills were already overburdened and not easily or quickly expanded. They increased tipping fees in response to the increased demand, a price tag that at the time could be accommodated due to an ever-expanding customer base.
 

Fast forward to 2013, when the United States is continuing the slow recovery from our recession. Customer bases have declined and shifted, water conservation efforts have decreased billable flows, and the industrial engine now is idle at best.  Most utilities have to find ways to continue to protect public health with less and are working under a heightened sense of economic pressure.  Older biosolids and residual disposal alternatives may not look as attractive now, especially in light of the capability for renewable energy generation from wastewater. Utilities can produce clean water, recover nutrients, and potentially reduce the nation's dependence on fossil fuel through the production and use of renewable energy, and biosolids can play a part in that effort. Link to WEF Renewable Energy Generation from Wastewater Position Statement.

 

Our challenge going forward is to develop cost-effective practices that are sustainable environmentally and economically. A big focus at Residuals and Biosolids 2013  will be how to develop emerging opportunities for sustainable resource recovery, and that’s a question for communities everywhere.

Posted by Jonathan Byus at 05/07/2013 09:02:17 AM | 


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George MartinGeorge Martin is a member of the 2012-2013 Board of Trustees for the Water Environment Federation (WEF), an international organization of water quality professionals headquartered in Alexandria, Va.

George currently serves as the General Manager of the Greenwood Metropolitan District (GMD) in Greenwood, SC. He oversees all the activities of the District and evaluates and improves the processes utilized in day-to-day activities of GMD, including compliance with regulatory requirements. George holds a vision to reduce the energy footprint as well as implement water reuse in Greenwood.

Prior to his position as General Manager, he served as Assistant Manager of GMD for 15 years. During that time he implemented a Preventative Maintenance Program for the wastewater treatment plants, pump stations and the collection system (cMOM). The maintenance program was recognized by EPA Washington as a good example and that information was placed on their website as a model for cMOM activities.

A WEF member since 1982, George has served as Vice-chair and Chair of the Collection Systems Committee and Vice-chair and Chair of the Program Committee. He was awarded the WEF Collection System Award in 2008. In addition, he has served on numerous work groups within WEF.

He is a member of the Water Environment Association of South Carolina, where he held leadership roles including President and Vice-president and Committee Chair for several committees. He was instrumental in establishing a Volunteer Certification Program for collection system operators in South Carolina. He holds collection system operator license number 0001. He is a member of the 5S Society, recipient of the SC Collection System Operator Award in 1994 and an Arthur Sidney Bedell Award recipient. Additional professional affiliations include membership with BAMI, the Buried Asset Management Institute and NACWA, the National Association of Clean Water Agencies.

In addition to his professional accomplishments and affiliations, George is active in his community and serves as a Board Member of The Greenwood Partnership Alliance, Board Member of Greenwood United Ministries, Past President of the Greenwood Kiwanis Club and active in St. Mark UMC.