“If you make good product you will always have a market” - Kevin Bleek

The City of Arlington (population ca. 18,000) used to land apply biosolids generated at the City’s Water Reclamation facility onto their own land near the Arlington Airport. In an effort to halt that practice and provide a viable alternative (something less problematic and more environmentally friendly), the City chose composting. The composting facility started operations in 2004 and, since the opening, Kevin Bleeck has been its only operator.

Dewatered biosolids cake is delivered twice a day, Monday through Friday, to the facility located near the Arlington Airport. A ten cubic yard dump truck delivers 16 yd³ per day. Last year the facility processed about 240 Dry Tons.

The biosolids are dumped into a small holding area and then mixed with bulking agents. Their successful recipe consists mostly of:

2 yd³ biosolids dewatered cake; 3 yds hog fuel (wood waste); and 2.5-3 yds compost overs (Overs are the larger wood particles that remain after product screening. They are a valuable source of carbon and porosity).

Eight batches of compost mix are made every day which equals to 40 batches every week.

Kevin said the dewatered cake is a little different each time it is delivered. The moisture content is especially variable. The ground wood waste used for the amendment also varies seasonally. They receive their wood waste ‘hog fuel’ from a lumber mill nearby. Kevin prefers to use Alder, but that is not always available. Kevin, being an experienced operator, knows how to adjust the mix to comply with Best Management Practices (BMP). 

 

Engineered Compost Systems provided the Aeration Static Pile System (ASP) for both the primary and the secondary composting process. The ASP features automatically reversing aeration and a biofilter to control odors. Both systems use speed controlled fans to minimize power consumption  (shown below).

The entire composting process takes about 5-6 weeks on aeration before the product is moved to storage piles.

The class A compost produced by Kevin is widely accepted by the community. The City uses it on its parks and ball fields. Recently it was also used at the Arlington Cemetery because there were several complaints about brown grass on the grounds of the cemetery. After spreading Kevin’s compost on top of the browned grass and watering it, the grass soon recovered back to its lush green. During the 2013 Airport Boulevard Extension Project approximately 700 yd³ of compost were used to build stormwater rain gardens, landscaped center medians and shoulder areas off the road.

A few years ago the compost was given away to customers, but the demand was so high that customers were put on a long waitlist and the production was overwhelmed by the demand. They stopped giving it away to the residents, but are now considering restarting the giveaway to households that are their wastewater clients only.

When asked about their composting markets and marketing strategies Kevin said: “If you make good product you will always have a market”.

The compost is tested following EPA regulations and because their community is rather small they have very low levels of contaminants.

And as a tip from 10+ years of operating a composting facility: “Don’t stop experimenting and trying different things”. – Kevin B.