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Talking compost in Madison County

The Madison County Waste Water Treatment Facility in Cazenovia hosted an open house announcing the completion of the county sewer district compost project on Dec. 8, while providing free compost to visitors.

Chief Operator Mark Bourdeau welcomed everyone, introducing members of the sewer board and discussing the new compost facility.

Former Chief Operator Thomas Clarke also welcomed those in attendance. Clarke thanked Stearns & Wheler and Sharon Smith of the DEC's Central Office for their help with the $654,700 grant application. He also thanked Sharon Driscoll for her help with the publicity and then gave a bit of history about the facility and the three-year process to get the Compost facility up and running.

30 years ago, according to Clarke, the district chose land application of bio-solids because it was a beneficial use -- free fertilizer for farmers -- and saved the district thousands of dollars per year in disposal costs. However, land application can only be done when the ground is not frozen, rain-saturated or snow-covered. This limits the operation in Madison County to about 4 or 5 months.

Composting by means of aerated static piles, however, is fairly inexpensive and can be done year round, on-site and is environmentally friendly.

Van Bartlett, head trainer at the Environmental Training Center at Morrisville State College, discussed the technical aspects of the Waste Water Treatment plant and about the new compost program. Bartlett worked for many years at the Waste Water Treatment facility before going to Morrisville State College.

James A. Zecca, Director of the Madison County Dept of Solid Waste and Sanitation spoke about the environmental benefits of composting sludge and congratulated everyone involved in bringing the new compost facility to fruition.

Town Supervisor Liz Moran and Supervisor Elect Ralph Monforte congratulated the Sewer Board, the former Chief Operator Tom Clark and the current Chief Operator and Waste Water treatment crew for a job well done. Area residents and avid gardeners in attendance were happy for the top quality mulch.

Mary Schwartz from Cornell Waste Management Institute will be adding the Madison County Compost facility to the Cornell Waste Management Institute web site and map of all the compost facilities in NYS. She spoke at the Open House and gathered information for the facilities inclusion on Cornell's compost web site.

Steve Googin, of Cazenovia, who attended the event, was happy to see the environmental issues discussed.

"It's great to see something that people deem so unworthy talking about [compost] being put to great use, recycled back to where it should be," Googin said.

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