By Steve Kemme
The Cincinnati Enquirer
HAMILTON - Butler County is testing an experimental technique for processing smelly sewage sludge in hopes of eliminating the need to spread it on farmland and ship it to landfills.
"This will be a less-expensive way of disposing sludge," said Tony Parrott, director of the county's Department of Environmental Services. "And it will be so much more environmentally sound."
The county commissioners Monday approved a $241,290 contract with QEI Engineers Inc. of Dayton, Ohio, to develop a preliminary design for equipment that will reduce sludge to granular mineral filler that can be used in construction work.
Butler has spent more than two years evaluating the new technique developed by consultant Wendell Judd of Fairfield.
It would cost $7 million to build the machinery for the process, which would reduce the volume of the sludge end-product by 90 percent. Parrott said other alternatives would cost as much as $3 million more.
Commissioner Courtney Combs said people living near farmland with sludge spread on it often complain about the foul odor. The new process would eliminate that problem and ease the pressure on landfill space.
QEI will complete the preliminary design by December. The commissioners then will decide whether to have the final design built. Construction would start late next year.
"Preliminary test results look very promising," Parrott said. "We're excited to be ahead of everybody else on this issue."
Judd and Butler County would share any patent royalties from the sludge-processing operation.
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