Early in 2008, Bowling Green Municipal Utilities (BGMU) began exploring all the possibilities for a new wastewater treatment plant. The city’s new facility, projected for completion in 2012, will cost an estimated $45 million. Originally built in 1962, the plant was outdated, limited and just too small for 21st century needs. Bowling Green is a growing city of 56,000, recently named in Forbes Magazine “Best Small Places for Business” because of its high income, job growth and low costs for operating a business.
Historically, BGMU’s plant had used a centrifuge to dewater their bio-solids and transport them long truck to the Ohio County Balefill. Although the availability of landfill space posed no immediate problem, cost control and green issues prompted BGMU to seek a method for reducing its bio-solids disposal needs. As part of a growing city, BGMU needed to control costs and provide options for solids handling. By converting the dewatered sludge into Class A bio-solids, BGMU would in effect be reducing costs associated with storage, transportation, regulatory oversight and staff time. In effect, the cost savings over time would more than cover the capital cost for the bio-solids dryer and total up to a substantial savings for the utility in the long run.
BGMU contracted with Gresham, Smith and Partners to study and provide recommendations as to what equipment would best suit the new plant. Bowling Green has no plans at this time to make the IC 10000 energy neutral. Local electric and gas rates are very favorable and cost effective for now. They know, however, should that change, the Therma-Flite dryer system can be combined with gasification and solar technology to provide a energy neutral solution. On the subject of going “green,” Bowling Green Municipal Utilities Chief Operator, Tim Fischer, anticipates it will be fairly easy to get local farmers interested in using the Class A product as a soil amendment. Local agriculture faces rising fertilizer costs, among other concerns.
At first glance, the low initial cost of the IC10000 Bio Scru unit from Therma-Flite--a world leader in bulk processing and heat exchange equipment--was extremely attractive to this mid-sized metropolis. Other systems evaluated had substantially larger price tags and were operationally more complex but offered no advantage over the Therma-Flite system. ThermaFlite’s Preston Whitney explains, “At the opening of bids, we were about $1 million under the nearest competitor.” ThermaFlite’s long-standing reputation for excellent parts availability was also a factor. “American-made replacement parts, quickly accessed from inventory is a big plus.” notes BGMU’s Tim Fischer, who goes on to say, “The onsite trial/demonstration by Therma-Flite exhibited Bio-Scru’s simplicity and reliability.” BGMU’s team of operators found the IC10000 unit very user friendly. The Bio-Scru is a fully automated, continuous process, indirectly heated dryer system that requires a minimum of operator attention. The PLC-controlled unit ensures the dried solids meet Class A requirements. BGMU was relieved to find that it will not need to add operator personnel.
Bowling Green’s new wastewater treatment plant including the new 5,400 square foot building to house the IC 10000 Bio-Scru from Therma Flite is estimated for completion in March of 2012. A “Class A” environmental future for Bowling Green is sure to follow.