December 15, 2009 | General

Wastewater Plant Taps Biogas, Solar And Wind

BioCycle December 2009, Vol. 50, No. 12, p. 46
The Landis Sewerage Authority offsets its electricity use with cogeneration, solar panels and a wind turbine, and grows crops and trees fertilized with its biosolids to remove carbon from the air.
Dennis W. Palmer

THE GOAL of the Landis Sewerage Authority (LSA) in Vineland, New Jersey is to become one of the greenest wastewater treatment plants in the state, reducing its carbon footprint to near zero and perhaps even have a negative footprint through multiple reuse and recycling programs. The recent funding of a windmill by a Sustainable Jersey grant in the amount of $10,000 will complement existing multimedia green energy programs. LSA is part of the City of Vineland Sustainability Team.
LSA is the largest facility in New Jersey – 8.2 million gallons/day (MGD) with actual flow of 6.0 MGD – that processes wastewater to a very high level of treatment (nitrification and denitification with some phosphorus removal) and returns all of the water back to the aquifer through infiltration basins and spray irrigation. Most treatment plants discharge treated wastewater to a stream, river or the ocean where it is lost.
The wastewater biosolids are high in nitrogen and phosphorus, due to the high level of treatment and the fact that many food processors discharge to the system. LSA has a 400-acre farm and grows corn, hay and straw with this natural organic based, wastewater solids derived fertilizer. Biosolids are surfaced applied to the mixed hay fields (orchard and timothy grasses) and injected and then disked for the corn fields. Crops are grown; carbon is removed from the air, all with a fertilizer that is not petroleum based. For the last two years, gross farm crop sales have exceeded $100,000/year, helping to stabilize LSA’s user rates. In addition, the authority has planted 150 acres of southern yellow pines, which also are fertilized with biosolids. These trees remove carbon from the air as they grow.
Liquid biosolids from LSA are applied and disked in to the local utility’s right of ways, which have very poor sandy soils. Teff, a warm season grass, is planted. The plan is to grow teff for animal feed and sell it with our hay.


With an annual electric budget of $1,075,000, LSA has taken a number of steps to reduce usage and generate its own power. These include a cogeneration unit to utilize biogas from the anaerobic digester, a solar array and most recently, a wind turbine. Cogeneration offsets about $120,000 to $140,000/year of electricity costs. The wind turbine was just installed, but on a windy day (steady 12 mph or more) it will power the LSA Administrative building. The solar is a power purchase agreement and LSA receives a lease payment rather then direct use of the electricity. The lease payment is anticipated to cover about 8 to 10 percent of the annual electric bill.
LSA has a mesophilic anaerobic digester. The methane, a greenhouse gas (GHG), was wasted previously by being burned in a flare. Now the gas is collected, run through a Schmitt Enertec clean burning engine supplied by Kraft Power, to produce 170kW net of electricity and 900,000 BTU of hot water per hour, which is used in the plant. The payback on the cogeneration engine will be 6.2 years with no increase in electric rates. For every one cent/kW increase in rates there is an 8-month faster return.
LSA has filed for a New Jersey GHG reduction grant to heat its scum/grease and pump it through a heated line to the digester for more gas production. Currently, the scum/grease is hauled to another treatment plant for incineration. If implemented, it would eliminate the GHG associated with the incineration of the scum/grease and the 60 mile/week of diesel truck transport. LSA would accept grease trap pump outs from local restaurants and food establishments, which also would boost biogas generation.

Just completed this summer and placed into operation in August 2009 is a 2 MW solar electric generation project on seven acres of LSA-owned land. An additional 2 MW is coming on line at year-end (a total of 14 acres). This will be one of the largest land-based solar projects in New Jersey. There is potential to add another 4 MW on additional land for a total of 8 MW of generation during 2010; an RFP for the additional 4 MW will be released in early 2010. This project is a joint public/public/private partnership between the City of Vineland Municipal Electric Utility, LSA and Conectiv. Because of the power purchase agreement with the utility, not one dollar was spent on construction, permits, wetland determination etc. by the public agencies (Landis or the City). Thus the solar project had positive cash flow from day one.
The recently installed wind turbine is mounted on a 45-foot monopole and has a generating capacity of 2.6 kW/240 V. The turbine cost $10,040, which was offset with the state grant. Installation was approximately $4,400, including $1,000 of in-house electrical installation costs.

Dennis Palmer, P.E. is Executive Director/Chief Engineer of the Landis Sewerage Authority in Vineland, New Jersey. This article originally appeared in the Fall 2009 Quarterly Newsletter of the Mid-Atlantic Biosolids Association ( and is reprinted here with MABA’s permission.
Sidebar p.47
THE Mid-Atlantic Biosolids Association (MABA) celebrated its 14th year in 2009. Recently, MABA hired Michael Wardell as its new Executive Director. Wardell has worked in the biosolids industry for over 30 years, most recently as a National Biosolids Partnership Lead Environmental Management Systems (EMS) auditor. “We are planning on doing a lot of outreach in 2010,” says Wardell, “especially in Pennsylvania where there has been increased antibiosolids activities. This will include meetings with legislators and support for MABA members in the affected communities. We also are giving priority to developing training programs and holding one day seminars on a number of topics.”
MABA will work with various Member Associations to have these training sessions approved for continuing education credits needed by operators and professional engineers in each state. “We plan on including sessions on greenhouse gas accounting – a workshop originally developed by the Northeast Biosolids and Residuals Association – as well as an EMS for wastewater treatment plants/biosolids facilities, media and public outreach training and preparation for the ABC certified land appliers exam,” adds Wardell. For more information on MABA, visit

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