Friday, December 25, 2009

Hailey to explore compost heating

$30,000 grant awarded for feasibility of bio-reactor

Express Staff Writer

The city of Hailey received $30,000 in grant funds earlier this month from the Idaho Office of Energy Resources to study the feasibility of using alternate wastewater treatment technology in the Wood River Valley.

The money will help fund a $60,000 feasibility study for the creation of a "renewable energy enterprise zone" in Hailey, perhaps near the Community Campus. The study will examine the potential for the area to be the heart of a campus serving the purposes of education, local food production and a hands-on sustainable technology showcase.

Whole Water Systems, owned by Morgan Brown of Ketchum, has agreed to provide services for $30,000 and has offered to donate an additional $10,000 worth of services. The city of Hailey will match the grant with $20,000 worth of employee time to complete the study.

The study will evaluate the Community Campus site for installation of a "vertical-shaft biological reactor," which composts wastewater sludge, restaurant grease and other materials.

City Administrator Heather Dawson said the bio-reactor would be built in a pit 100 to 200 feet deep. A news release from the city states that it could treat solid waste using half the electricity that conventional technology does and produce heat in the process. That heat would be transferred to buildings.

"With the present cost of heating the pool at the Aquatic Center being $25,000 dollars per year, it is conceivable that tens of thousands of dollars in energy costs could be realized every year with this application alone," the release states.

If the feasibility study produces positive results, Dawson said, the city could apply for a project grant next year to build the facility.

"It would cost in the millions," she said.

Vertical-shaft biological reactors have been used since 1975 in more than 65 installations throughout Canada, Europe and Asia, as well as in King County, Wash., and Homer, Alaska.

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