From tank to bank, processing septage to benefit Greenville

By Curtis Wildfong • Last Updated 10:15 am on Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Greenville officials have approved a plan that will bring in septage from outside sources to be processed at the city’s wastewater treatment plant for a cost. The plan could generate tens of thousands of dollars per year in revenue for the city’s sewer fund. Pictured are City Manager George Bosanic, left, and Mayor John Hoppough discussing the plan. — Daily News/Curtis Wildfong

GREENVILLE — It might be tough to believe there is a market for septic waste, but Greenville officials have approved a plan which will bring in septage from outside sources to be processed at the city’s wastewater treatment plant.

The plan, which sets a fee schedule and guideline for accepting the waste, could bring in a good chunk of change. At a cost of 6.5 cents per gallon and a plant that can process up to 5,000 gallons per day, the revenue can add up.

“It will generate tens of thousands of dollars annually above what it costs to treat it,” City Manager George Bosanic said. “As we all know, the sewer fund can use some revenue.”

On Tuesday, the Greenville City Council adopted a letter of agreement to be signed by each hauler who contracts with the city. The agreement mostly outlines regulations, while also requiring liability insurance polices from the haulers.

“It comes at some risk that we accept an unknown source of septage that there may be something in the batch that we accept that may be harmful to our facilities,” Bosanic said. “So consequently, we want to hold whoever it is who did that accountable for doing it.”

The council adopted the original plan for the processing of septage, which is partially treated, concentrated sewage from septic tanks, but with the letter of agreement can move the program forward.

Shawn Wheat, superintendent of the wastewater treatment plant, said he has already had interest from several haulers, all within Montcalm County, in utilizing the city to process septage. Previously, he said, they would often have to transport it to Grand Rapids.

The ability to implement a septage program was allowed by the city’s recent upgrades to the plant, Bosanic said.

“We recently expanded the wastewater treatment plant that has expanded the capacity of the plant in anticipation of new companies coming to Greenville,” he said. “In the meantime, we have the opportunity to take advantage of the septage haulers who will bring septage to Greenville.”

If the city does add businesses, which would produce waste, Bosanic said the city has the leeway to scale back the amount of septage taken in from haulers in order to not exceed capabilities at the plant.

There is also the potential, he said, of expanding the plant in the future in order to accept more septage, which Wheat said is definitely out there.

“There is actually more septage out there than we can treat,” he said, adding he wished to be able to process up to 10,000 gallons a day, but due to Michigan Department of Environmental Quality standards, the city does not have the resources for that much.

Bosanic said we would first like to establish a successful program on a small scale, before considering any additional expansion.

“I suggest we learn to crawl before we walk,” he said.

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