Mayor, LTU officials tout benefits of Biosolids Program

Pictured are the dry biosolids created from wastewater via Lincoln’s Biosolids Program.
Pictured are the dry biosolids created from wastewater via Lincoln’s Biosolids Program.(Lincoln's Biolsolids Program)
Published: Feb. 2, 2023 at 5:39 PM CST
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LINCOLN, Neb. (Press Release) - Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird and Lincoln Transportation and Utilities officials said Thursday that the latest expansion of Lincoln’s Biosolids Program will bolster the city’s innovative efforts to secure economic and environmental benefits from waste materials.

“This is another example of the City’s innovative approach to building a more resilient Lincoln,” said Mayor Gaylor Baird. “Expanding the biosolids program lowers costs, helps the environment, and supports the local economy. By joining forces with our partners in agriculture, our Biosolids Program enriches the future by enriching the soil and water on which our future depends.”

The Biosolids Program converts biosolids created from wastewater treatment into a dry, nutrient-rich, soil-like fertilizer for crops. Biosolids are valuable to the Lincoln community and surrounding area, LTU officials said, because they improve the soil, increase water reuse efforts, and divert material from the landfill, where biosolids were deposited prior to the program.

LTU recently installed conversion equipment at the Northeast Water Resource Recovery Facility, 7000 N. 70th St., to match equipment already in use at the Theresa Street Water Resource Recovery Facility, 2400 Theresa St.

LTU Director Liz Elliott said the project updated aging infrastructure and creates a material that’s easier for agriculture producers to use that will expand the marketplace for additional sales and use of dry biosolids to area farmers.

“The material we create is a more environmentally desirable product, reduces the use of synthetic fertilizer by our agriculture partners, and is easier for agriculture producers to apply to their crops,” Elliott said. “Working with dry biosolids versus a liquid form is also easier for our Wastewater teammates to manage at both of our facilities and will avoid an estimated $200,000 in material hauling costs annually.”

“One fourth-generation farmer told us he’s been able to decrease his use of synthetic fertilizer by 80% since he began incorporating our biosolids into the soil,” said Todd Boling, Lincoln Wastewater System Superintendent. “Liquid biosolids can only be used a few months out of the year during the growing season. The program upgrade offers farmers a way to use the dry biosolids year-round.”

The Northeast Water Resource Recovery Facility generates 175,000 gallons of liquid biosolids per week, the equivalent to 500 acres of land dry biosolids are applied to, and a total of nearly 2,000 acres that Lincoln Wastewater System can impact annually. Lincoln Wastewater System has had nearly 90 agriculture partners and has applied biosolids to more than 37,000 acres of agricultural land since 1992.

The two wastewater facilities are estimated to bring in more than $40,000 annually for the sale of the dry biosolids. All revenue earned is reinvested back into the program. The expansion project took three and a half years to complete and has been in full operation since early December 2022.

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