A septic lagoon has shown a dramatic reduction in sludge over recent months.
Probiotic Solutions, of Chandler, provided new photos to the sanitary district board of directors this week, and the proof is in the pictures. It appears as if nearly all of the sludge that used to choke the lagoons has been eaten away by hungry bacteria.
The sludge-eating process appears to have saved the district — and its rate-payers — from having to dredge the sewage ponds, which board members say would have been a much costlier solution.
"We had been using this product for, I think, over a year," said Suzy Burnside of the sewer board in a phone conversation. "They said they think this product had done what it can do. [The sludge] is in abeyance. The product has reduced what it can reduce. This is wonderful."
Burnside estimated the cost of dredging the lagoons to be some $280,000, as compared to only about $50,000 spent thus far for the bacteria solution. "They saved us a lot of money," she said. "We got horrible bids to remove the sludge by dredging. That was a big savings to the public."
Vice Chairman George Young said previously that the bacteria solution could ultimately reduce rates. Probiotic Solutions works towards sludge reduction and odor control, cleaning up lagoons, pulp and paper factories, and food processing plants.
The company applied two products, one that stimulates sludge-eating bacteria and another that detoxifies the material. The two lagoons measure about a half-acre each, reaching depths of about 10 feet.
According to the company, there had been an island of sludge that covered one-quarter acre of the north lagoon, which started dissipating in October of last year. The sludge appears almost completely gone, having been "digested" by bacteria stimulated by the company.
One worker has described the once-intolerable smell of the lagoon as "beautiful."
Sewage dumping at the lagoons would be shut off when a new plant is constructed. A new plant has been in the planning stages for many years, and is called the 2001 Camp Verde Sanitary District Plant and Collection Line Project.
The group also heard a report by Burnside about a revised timeline for the sewer project involving the Arizona Department of Transportation. "We were not going to put out that people would rely on, and might not happen," said Burnside after the meeting. She said the project had been slowed by a change in engineers at the state level.
The group also voted to approve an interim solution for Harvard Investments, which had requested a temporary solution to its sewer needs. The board approved "the use of a vault and haul or community septic system" to temporarily solve the development’s sewer demand.