Fort Worth

Fort Worth’s costs to get rid of ‘sewage sludge’ are mounting

Equipment used by Renda Environmental sits in a Hill county field where Fort Worth biosolids have been used as fertilizer.
Equipment used by Renda Environmental sits in a Hill county field where Fort Worth biosolids have been used as fertilizer. Star-Telegram archives

The cost to fix Fort Worth’s smelly “sewage sludge” program keeps growing as the City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to approve an additional payment of $21.9 million over five years to the contractor that deals with the waste.

The council also approved extending the contract with Renda Environmental until March 2020. Renda processes and delivers the sewage sludge to eager farmers who want it for the nutrients it returns to the soil.

The new contract total for the term is $67.3 million.

“It is a very expensive proposal, but it looks like a sound long-term solution for us,” Mayor Betsy Price said. Fort Worth’s neighbors in surrounding counties should not have to deal with a nasty odor, she said.

The sludge — what the city staff calls “biosolids” — comes from each home, business and manufacturer in the city at a rate of about 90 tons a day. The sewage is treated daily at the Village Creek Water Reclamation Facility to rid it of disease-causing germs. The biosolids are then trucked out by Renda and applied to farmland.

The smell has worsened in recent years, neighbors of farmers and city staffers have said.

Fort Worth is getting ready to pay an estimated $2.3 million for infrastructure improvements at the reclamation facility, which should help the process. The city has already added chemicals to the sludge, and Renda has changed how it hauls and delivers biosolids, all of which make the program more expensive, said John Carman, director of the Water Department.

Councilmen Dennis Shingleton and Sal Espino were absent for the vote.

Caty Hirst, 817-390-7984

Twitter: @catyhirst

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