Presented with an offer it couldn't refuse the Hannibal Board of Public Works (HBPW) recently scrapped plans to establish its own biosolids program.

Presented with an offer it couldn’t refuse the Hannibal Board of Public Works (HBPW) recently scrapped plans to establish its own biosolids program.

The decision to begin a biosolids venture was made earlier this year after its long-time partner in sludge, Continental Cement, decided to go in a new direction.

“Our contract with Continental Cement, where we currently haul our biosolids, is coming to an end at the end of 2017 so we were looking in a new direction. Earlier this year we met and decided composting was going to be that direction,” said Mathew Munzlinger of the HBPW.

In preparation for launching its own biosolids project it was reported in March that two HBPW staffers had visited composting sites in Branson and Sedalia, plus the wastewater treatment plant in Springfield, Mo. Heath Hall of the HBPW advised the HBPW Board that it was anticipated the composting program would be operational by mid January, 2018.

As recently as June the HBPW’s plan was still on track. During last month’s HBPW Board meeting approval was given to signing an $18,000 contact for services with a local engineering firm.

“We’ve been working to design the (biosolids) program, getting the equipment and building a place in order to do that. Part of that is the construction of a building at the wastewater plant site to house the whole composting facility. We needed foundations designed for the building, and help going through the bidding process and the construction process,” said Munzlinger regarding his June request to hire MECO Engineering.

Between the June and July HBPW Board meetings, a better offer surfaced.

“We were recently approached by a landfill that wants to use it as a daily cover,” said Munzlinger. “The price was attractive to us so we have elected to go with the landfill in Bowling Green rather than developing a new composting site ourselves as it would be more capital intensive up front.”

By accepting the landfill’s offer the HBPW is “not going to be building a structure to house this composting project plus all the concrete, the loaders, the mixers, the screener, that type of equipment that is heavy capital cost up front that we need to start that project,” explained Munzlinger.

The initial savings the HBPW will see by not establishing a biosolids program is significant.

“We’re estimating on the composting project it would have cost $1 million to $1.5 million to get it going,” said Munzlinger. “We’re looking at doing this (taking sludge to the landfill in Bowling Green) for less than $50,000 a year.”

The HBPW’s relationship with Continental Cement has existed since October 2002 when it was announced the city’s yard waste and sludge from the wastewater treatment plant would become part of Continental Cement’s Artificial Soil Program. The HBPW initially paid Continental Cement $18 a ton for accepting the biosolids material from the wastewater plant.

With the bisolids agreement in place it was announced a new spreader truck, which was previously needed to spread the sludge at the city farm, was no longer required. The HBPW also indicated it would sell the city-owned farm.

The farm, which the city had owned since 1994, was sold at auction in April 2005.

Reach reporter Danny Henley at danny.henley@courierpost.com