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MWRD, Your Sludge is Showing

Aerial view of the sludge lagoons, foreground, and drying areas, center, looking southwest from above the McCook Reservoir. Photograph courtesy of the MWRD.

Sewage consists of water and a lot of inorganic and organic substances that for simplicity’s sake are called bad stuff. Sewage is processed at Metropolitan Water Reclamation District water reclamation plants to separate the water from the bad stuff.

MWRD has seven water reclamation plants, but only three process the bad stuff, also called sewage sludge, or just sludge. The two biggest sludge processing plants are the Calumet plant, on Chicago’s far south side, and the Stickney plant, in the village of the same name.

At this point, the two big plants handle sludge differently, but both plants end up with the same product, called wet biosolids. Part of the sludge at the Stickney plant is processed differently and is called dry biosolids, or pellets.

As this is written, MWRD may be reviewing consultant proposals to study and recommend the future for Stickney plant sludge and biosolids management. If a consulting contract is awarded, what will be the outcome?

What about the future of Calumet plant sludge? At both plants, eliminating the use of lagoons and air-drying will free up the land area used for these processes, and provide opportunities for increased energy efficiency and/or revenue.

Will MWRD take a bold step or will inertia hold them back? Download the full article to learn more.

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