Sludge Dryer Back in Operation, Authority Board Hears

LOWER POTTSGROVE PA – Equipment relied on by the Pottstown Borough Authority to dry sewer sludge and make it usable as farm fertilizer has endured a variety of setbacks since its installation in 2019, but in recent months is operating at levels closer to its full capacity, members of the Lower Pottsgrove Sewer Authority learned during their meeting Monday (March 8, 2021).

Details of the borough’s Gryphon sludge dryer operation were part of a discussion between Pottstown and Lower Pottsgrove representatives, held in response to a Jan. 6 letter from the township asking for a status update on the equipment. Lower Pottsgrove and other municipalities served by the borough water treatment system paid in part for the dryer’s purchase, and are billed for its continued use.

Lower Pottsgrove Authority Solicitor Stephen Kalis said borough officials acknowledged the dryer took longer than anticipated to get back into operation after its conveyor belt, a critical working part, was broken and replaced in 2020. Since the repairs, Kalis said, the borough reports its dryer has worked up to a processing capacity of 68-70 wet tons per day, but currently is needed for only 60-62 tons.

Drying sludge is intended to eliminate hauling and disposal costs, and produce the fertilizer as a by-product. The borough and municipal customers like Lower Pottsgrove were billed for those added costs while the $5 million dryer, manufactured by Gryphon Environmental LLC of Owensboro KY, was being fixed. Kalis reported the borough considers the machinery to be working “sufficiently.”

“The good news,” Kalis added, is that the dryer is “up and operational at this point.”

There may be more good news ahead, according to Authority Manager Ed Wagner. The borough is re-examining some of its estimated bills issued during the repair period, he said, and indicated they may be revised and lowered.

Also during Monday’s meeting, authority members:

  • Heard that construction documents for the replacement of more sewer line along Woodland Drive have been approved, and that a notice to proceed with that work will be issued this week;
  • Learned that improvements to the Sanatoga Lake sewer pump station have temporarily stalled because workers there were called to another site, sewer operator Tim Watson said. Upgrades are necessary for, and being paid by, the Sanatoga Greene development being constructed on Evergreen Road; and
  • Authorized a sewer and access agreement that will enable the Rita’s Water Ice store on North Charlotte Street to connect to a township sewer line on School Lane.

The authority’s next meeting is scheduled for April 12 (Monday).

Photo by The Post