City Council cuts deal with Albany for disposal of excess biosolids

The Lebanon City Council approved an intergovernmental agreement Wednesday to begin paying Albany to dispose of excess biosolids from the city’s wastewater treatment process.

The city disposes of the vast majority of the biosolids by applying it to non-food bearing grass seed fields, said Ron Whitlach, Engineering Services director.

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality also allows the city to dispose of the biosolids in landfills, said Rob Emmons, Engineering Services supervisor.

“This practice has worked for several  years, but recently, the city has had to make unplanned emergency arrangements to remove excess biosolids from our Wastewater Treatment Plant.”

In the winters of 2015-16 and 2016-17, the city had to make unplanned emergency arrangements to remove the solids from the plant due to overloading, according to the agreement. Making arrangements to dispose of large quantities of biosolids is complicated and expensive during the winter months if prior planning has not been done.

The city does have a place where it can dispose of solids during the winter, but when and how much depend on several factors, such as groundwater levels, Whitlach said.

The city has disposed of the biosolids in Roseburg at a cost of 17 cents per gallon, Whitlatch said.

Albany has a well-established procedure of dewatering biosolids and hauling the the solids to Coffin Butte Landfill, Emmons said.

Albany has excess capacity in its system and is able to accept a limited amount of biosolids from Lebanon.

Albany offered to help out, Whitlach said. “It’s just neighbor helping neighbor.”

Under the agreement, Lebanon may deliver up to 75,000 gallons of biosolids per week up to a maximum of 500,000 gallons annually. Lebanon will pay Albany $600 per dry ton, approximately 8 cents per gallon.

The material is in liquid form carrying 2 to 3 percent solids. To calculate payment, dry tonnage is calculated based on total gallons and the percentage of solids in each load.

At the maximum, it would cost the city about $36,000, Whitlach said, but he doesn’t foresee needing that much.

The amount of biosolids produced annually varies substantially, Whitlach said.

Emmons pegged it at around 1.5 million gallons.

Whitlach said the plant has been producing excess biosolids for several years, but he was unable to comment about the cause.

“The topic is a subject of executive sessions right now,” City Attorney Tre Kennedy said.

Executive sessions are closed to the public. Decisions must be made in open session, and the council has made no decisions related to the matter.   

Voting to approve the agreement were Mayor Paul Aziz, Councilor Wayne Riskamp, Council President Bob Elliott and Councilor Robert Furlow.

Councilors Jason Bolen, Rebecca Grizzle and Floyd Fisher were absent.

Millersburg, which owns and operates the Albany-Millersburg Water Reclamation Facility, is also a party to the agreement.

In other business, the council:

n Tabled an audit presentation until January after the auditor was unable to attend the meeting. The councilors did not receive a copy of the audit prior to the meeting, and Aziz said he was not comfortable voting to accept it without seeing it.

The city did receive an electronic copy of the audit prior to the meeting – hard copies were expected to be delivered during the council meeting – and City Manager Gary Marks said it was a “clean audit,” with fund balances up overall across the budget, with no corrective actions recommended.

n Confirmed the mayoral appointment of Ray Hendricks and Kate Lacy to fill vacant positions on the Arts Commission.

n Recommended to the Oregon Liquor Control Commission approval of a liquor license for limited on-premises sales of malt beverages, wine and cider at Bigfoot Bites, Inc., 1112 S. Main St.