Record-setting rain has created a biosolids problem for sewage treatment plants

Photo: Record-setting rain in the D.C. area has caused problems for local sewage treatment plants. (Robert Miller/The Washington Post)

Sewage treatment plants throughout the Mid-Atlantic are dealing with a smelly problem: The farmland that typically uses the material that remains after the treatment process as natural fertilizer is saturated from last year’s heavy rains.

That means utilities have to store the biosolids until the farmland dries — and some of them are quickly running out of space.

The Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC) asked for emergency approval from its board Wednesday to accelerate its usual procurement process to quickly design, and possibly build, storage space at four of its sewage treatment plants.

Two companies in charge of hauling away 18 dump trucks worth of biosolids from WSSC sewage treatment plants daily usually deliver it to farms or, if the farmland is frozen or too wet, store it temporarily. However, the companies say months of wet weather have left their storage tanks in southern Prince George’s County and central Virginia 90 percent full, WSSC officials say.

Utilities throughout the rain-soaked Mid-Atlantic are looking for more room for their biosolids. The gunk, which has an odor, looks like damp dirt […]

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Record-setting rain has created a biosolids problem for sewage treatment plants
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Record-setting rain has created a biosolids problem for sewage treatment plants
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Mid-Atlantic sewage treatment plants have a problem: farmland that uses the natural fertilizer remaining after treatment is saturated from last year's rain.
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The Washington Post
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