North Texas

Fort Worth Considers Drying Human Waste to Make Better Fertilizer

Plan would save $2 million per year, water department director says

Fort Worth's water department has a plan to dry treated human waste, make it into fertilizer and even sell it in stores -- and save $2 million per year.

"We want to lower our costs," Fort Worth Water Department director Chris Harder told city council members Tuesday.

Harder outlined a plan to install a huge drying machine that would mean biosolids would weigh much less, reducing the number of trucks used to haul the stuff away from a treatment plant in East Fort Worth by five times.

Right now, the waste is trucked out of town and spread across vacant fields.

The new process would allow a contractor to sell the fertilizer to stores, lowering the city's cost and creating a better recycled product.

As one of the fastest-growing cities in the country, Fort Worth produces 13,000 tons a month of human waste.

Council member Cary Moon couldn't resist.

"It sounds like a bunch of crap," he joked.

Council member Carlos Flores had a serious question -- about the smell.

"Is there a way you can quantify how much of an odor reduction the biosolids you're proposing would result in?" Flores asked.

"I think it would be difficult to quantify it," Harder said.

As for the fertilizer itself, water department spokeswoman Mary Gugliuzza had a sample from another city.

"Smells a little earthy, like most fertilizers," she said.

The council is expected to vote on the plan next month.

Fort Worth would be the first city in North Texas, and one of the few nationwide, to use the new drying process to create fertilizer.

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