Biosolids should be taken elsewhere, Rifle residents tell city
Citizen Telegram Editor
A handful of West Rifle residents once again told city officials and city consultants they do not want any type of compost facility in their vicinity during a Tuesday, May 21, meeting.
Residents of that area complained loudly and often last year when the city tried a compost operation next to the wastewater treatment plant. Their opposition eventually led the city to issue a cease and desist order to contract operator CacaLoco. Currently, the remaining compost is either being sold to consumers or disposed of at the Garfield County landfill.
The meeting, led by the city’s consultant, Stantec, was designed to help develop a plan for the best disposal method of biosolids from the wastewater plant.
Utilities Director Dick Deussen said the city received a county Federal Mineral Lease District grant to match with city funds to develop the plan to handle 400 tons a year of “dry,” or processed, biosolids. Since the composting operation was closed, the city has trucked its biosolids to a plant near Delta, at a cost of around $150,000 a year, said Deussen.
“We want to find the best value method to either dispose or reuse this material,” he added.
Greg Woodward of Stantec, a worldwide professional consulting firm in a wide range of fields, explained the different methods of handling biosolids. Those include applying the treated material to agricultural lands, several different outside and enclosed composting processes and a microwave system to dry the waste.
However, residents such as Dick Hewitt were more concerned with the site where any of the processes might be located.
“You have to find a location that’s downwind,” Hewitt said. “Anything at that [West Rifle] location is wrong. I’m sorry, but after what we went through, we can’t afford to take a chance it could get stinky again.”
City Manager Matt Sturgeon tried to assure the residents the city has not already decided to once again open a compost facility.
“I want to tell you that’s it’s not a foregone conclusion that we’re going to put another compost operation out there,” he said. “We are looking at a range of options. I don’t want you to leave here tonight believing we’ve decided to do compost again.”
Earlier in the meeting, plant superintendent Dave Gallegos told the residents recent odors were the result of the change of seasons.
“This is a pooh plant, so there are odors,” he said. “We have to meet state standards and keep the odors down and I’ll admit we overshot things here recently. We’ll do better.”
The residents said odors have diminished greatly since the compost operation ceased, but worried they may return when the remaining piles of wastes and other materials are disturbed.
Woodward said the planning process has not yet developed any cost estimates for the various processes, or exactly how large an area might be needed for the city to address its biosolids. The process will continue and recommendations will be made to the city, he added.
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