The operation of the Bellevue’s Compost site has been evolving since the time that Thom Burnett (wastewater superintendent) first opened it up back in the late 1990’s. Originally the site collected the City’s leaves and composted them in rows over the winter, and then offered the compost to the citizens in the spring for use on their gardens. Brush disposal and chipping was added to the site and then later compost created from the Evergreen composting system which had been installed at the Waste Water facility in the early 2000’s. The Evergreen system composted a mixture of sludge (bio-solids) and wood chips placed in steel bins for 30 days. The heat generated by the composting waste disinfected the end product allowing it to be used as a soil amendment in gardens.
Brush disposal has always been a major issue at the facility. Large mounds of brush and ever growing mounds of chipped wood were an unending problem. The City has tried over the years to find an outlet for the chipped brush but to no avail. Land filling the mulch or giving it to Bunge have been the only outlets, as no one seems to want it. In an attempt to reduce the amount of brush and trash we were receiving, the city contacted some volunteers to help check licenses to make sure the individuals bringing in the brush were citizens of Bellevue, and to prevent the dumping of trash of all sorts. The system proved to be a positive addition to the compost site itself and the amount of brush being received was reduced by some 40%. The issue then became the volunteers and the time they could dedicate to the site. In order to cover the time required to monitor and assure that the site wasn’t being abused, we ended up hiring several individuals to work there and continue to check licenses.
The cost to operate the site continued to grow. The final year the City ran the Compost site the costs were:
- $48,000 to grind the mountain of brush that was there, plus our labor to load and run the pay loader,
- The City paid out just over $21,000 in wages to monitor the site,
- Additionally, we were informed by the EPA that since we were operating a compost site we would need to obtain a permit, and;
- Account for each load of vegetation we received and keep records,
- Install underdrains in the compost area and return the leachate collected to head of the plant and treat it- cost estimate $24,000,
- Remove all the old fill and at a cost of $30,000 for transportation and disposal.
The City due to the cost of operation, and the requirement from the EPA to permit and install the underdrains, decided to negotiate with Barnes Nursery to operate the facility under their license. Barnes had a license to operate a compost site and by coming under the Barnes license, we are considered a transfer station and the Installation of underdrains and additional permitting was not required.
Cost for the City to operate the site:
- $21,000 wages
- $48,000 grind bush
- $24,000 underdrains and installation
- $5,000 man hours record keeping
Total $98,000 to operate the facility ourselves.
- $50,000 contract cost for Barnes to operate facility and dispose of brush
- Annual Savings for the City – $48,000 per year
This is an excellent example of improving services and reducing costs.
We now have a Compost site that is fully compliant with the EPA. The City no longer produces any processed compost. Due to the cost of operation, we are presently either land applying the sludge (bio-solids) or we are filter pressing it and taking it to the land fill for disposal.
Barnes kept record of activity in 2013. It was determined that since there was little activity on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, it was decided to close on those days to keep the cost down. Barnes Nursery continues to work with the City to improve services and keep costs down.
Barnes Nursery has been a great partner with the City of Bellevue. They have furnished the Committee to Grow with free mulch to use for the downtown area, the gateways at the four corners entering Bellevue, along with the inner gateway at the five points area. Also, mulch was given to Central Park.
I wanted Bellevue Fish and Loaves to have enough fresh produce for those in need, so I contacted the Boy Scout Troop 203 to see if they would be interested in constructing raised beds at the Bellevue Hospital. The Boy Scouts built 18 raised beds and Barnes Nursery gave compost to fill those 18 beds for free. The compost for the beds would have been costly if it wasn’t for their generosity.
Barnes Nursery has joined our community and jumped right in to help with projects in our city.
The City is pleased to have Barnes Nursery run the Compost Site with their expertise and to have a community minded business join in making our city better.