LTU Mayor and Officials Talk about Benefits of Biosolids Program

LINCOLN, Neb. (Press release) – Leirion Mayor Gaylor Baird and Lincoln Transportation and Utilities officials said Thursday that the latest expansion of the Lincoln Biosolids Program will support the city’s pioneering efforts to generate economic and environmental benefits from waste.

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

The Biosolids program converts biosolids from wastewater treatment into dry, nutrient-rich, soil-like crop fertilizers. Biosolids are of value to the people of Lincoln and the surrounding area because they improve soil health, increase water reuse efforts, and divert materials from a landfill where biosolids were stored prior to the program, LTU said.

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

LTU director Liz Elliott said the project upgrades aging infrastructure and creates a material that is easier to use for agricultural producers, which will expand the market for additional sales and use of dry biosolids to local farmers.

“The material we create is a more environmentally desirable product, reduces the use of synthetic fertilizers by our agricultural partners, and is easier for growers to apply to their crops,” Elliott said. “Working with dry biosolids, compared to the liquid form, is also easier for our wastewater teammates at both of our facilities and saves about $200,000 a year in materials transportation costs.”

“One fourth-generation farmer told us that he has been able to reduce his use of synthetic fertilizers by 80% since he started applying our biosolids to the soil,” said Todd Boling, manager of the Lincoln Wastewater Treatment System. “Liquid biosolids can only be used for a few months of the year during the growing season. The program upgrade offers farmers the opportunity to use dry biosolids all year round.”

The Northeast Water Remediation Facility produces 175,000 gallons of liquid biosolids per week, equivalent to 500 acres of dry biosolids, and a total of approximately 2,000 acres that the Lincoln Wastewater System can impact annually. The Lincoln Wastewater System has approximately 90 agricultural partners and has applied biosolids to more than 37,000 acres of farmland since 1992.

The two wastewater treatment plants are estimated to bring in over $40,000 per year from the sale of biosolids. All earned income is reinvested back into the program. The expansion project took three and a half years to complete and has been fully operational since early December 2022.

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