Thursday, 22 August 2019

WHITIANGA WEATHER

TCDCs biosolid composter in Whitianga to be turned off

TCDCs biosolid composter in Whitianga to be turned off

Operations at the biosolid composter in Whitianga will cease in November while Thames Coromandel District Council take time to look at how they can improve the composter’s financial viability. A decision will be made by April 2015 as to whether to reinstate operations or decommission the plant.

The composter, which mixes green waste with biosolids (mainly from the Whitianga Wastewater Treatment Plant) was set up to produce Aa grade compost.

"While the composter has shown good operational results and is producing grade Aa compost, which we've been using on our Council parks and reserves, we now need to do a more in-depth assessment on its cost benefits," said TCDC Infrastructure Manager Bruce Hinson.

“As part of our 2015-2025 Long-Term-Planning, we've been reviewing the viability of the Composter, and commissioned an independent report to assess the cost benefits. The report was presented to Council's Infrastructure Committee this week. The report says there's no significant financial benefit to retain the composting operation and it's cheaper to send biosolids to landfill rather than compost.

"The original 2007 Business Case said the Composter would save money by taking biosolids out of landfill and turning it into compost. It assumed that landfill costs would increase and the fact is, this just hasn't happened. The amount of compost the plant is producing, while being used on our parks and reserves, right now doesn't financially justify its on-going operation costs.

"It's costing us more to produce compost from the Biosolid Composter than what we can buy it for commercially.”

TCDC Mayor Glenn Leach said, "The prudent thing to do is to stop the Composter now and re-evaluate its viability to see if there is financial benefit for us to turn it back on. We need to get some definite figures around the volume and costs for producing the compost, as well as understanding more fully the financial implications if we decide to turn it back on or decommission the Composter."

TCDC's Infrastructure Committee resolved at its meeting this week that staff should now come back to the committee by April next year with detailed figures on compost volumes, along with a decommissioning plan for the composter and possible options for re-use of the Whitianga site. It also recommended TCDC's Audit Committee consider any future financial risk to ratepayers.

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