Removing excess sludge from Wastewater Plant will cost $63,400
The City Council voted 5-0 at its Wednesday meeting to award Shelley’s Environmental Systems a contract to remove the excess biosolids and sludge from the Wastewater Treatment Facility. The job will take approximately 12 weeks and cost the City $63,400 according to the City Council agenda packet. But during the Council’s discussion period, a familiar name came up about who is at fault for this WWTP issue and who should pay – Anuvia Plant Nutrients in Zellwood.
“Other than repairs we need to make on our water plant, will this get us out of the danger zone as far as what we’ve dealt with on this recent issue? Commissioner Doug Bankson asked.
“It’s a step,” said Assistant Public Services Director Kevin Burgess. “We did a 14-day composite sampling in January on Anuvia, and we came to the realization that they were severely organically overloading our plant. We can’t get it out of here fast enough. We’ve been in meetings and discussions this week and last. Their new permit is drafted. There are conditions put on them that are going to be enforceable. We’ll get this problem under control, and we’ll get control of our wastewater treatment plant back.”
Anuvia Plant Nutrients opened its fertilizer production facility on Jones Road in Zellwood last summer. The state-of-the-art $98 million plant has the capacity to produce greater than 200 tons of product daily, but has also been pointed to as the primary cause of the problems the Wastewater Treatment Facility is experiencing.
“If that’s what created the issue, are we asking them to shoulder some of the expense?” Bankson asked.
“We will be going back to them for recourse,” Burgess said. “To get some money back yes. There is a condition in their existing permit where we can go back and recoup dollars.”
Mayor Joe Kilsheimer brought a different perspective to the discussion and a brief history of Anuvia and the City of Apopka.
“There is other information that has never come to light, and that is Anuvia has already paid the City of Apopka $1.5 million in impact fees. That occurred when the city issued their permit. The City of Apopka signed Anuvia up as a customer in March of 2014… which again is before I was elected. We cemented our relationship in October of 2014 with this payment of $1.5 million, and then we issued the permit sometime in 2015.
But Bankson didn’t see this as a payment for the issues the plant is facing.
“What they paid was what they would have paid for impact anyway. It wasn’t a punitive charge, was it?”
“No,” said Kilsheimer. “But what they paid was none-the-less an impact fee.”
“This is something beyond what they paid to impact our system,” Bankson said. “So they should be held liable to help deal with this.”
Kilsheimer asked City Administrator Glenn Irby to weigh-in.
“The composite sampling for 14 days that was done by the City (at a cost of $18,700), they (Anuvia) should definitely pay for that in my opinion,” Irby said. “Some of the things we’ll be demanding in the new permit is that they (Anuvia) buy their own composite sampler, and it will be online for 365 days, and they will provide us with 365 days of composite sampling.”
Irby believes Anuvia contributed to the issues the plant is dealing with, but not all of them.
“As far as taking the sludge out of the tanks, it may be difficult to pinpoint how much they (Anuvia) contributed to the tanks. This didn’t happen overnight. This has been building over time. It could have been months to years. It can’t be pinpointed. So to say it’s all Anuvia’s fault, I don’t think you can do that. They have done some things they should not have done. The fine structure is not as good as it will be next year. And we do not anticipate this happening again. And if it does it’s going to cost them.”
Commissioner Billie Dean called for a cancellation of the Anuvia contract, but Irby explained it may not be in the best interest of the City to do that.
“If we can get them to comply (in the new contract), there is good in it for the City,” Irby said. “We make quite a bit of money from the processing of their waste. It’s a good thing for the city revenue-wise.”
The contract with Anuvia expires on Monday, March 6th. Burgess said the next contract with Anuvia would be only one year instead of the standard five-year contract.
Anuvia CEO Amy Yoder also referenced the hefty impact fee as payment for any issues the City of Apopka is facing.
“The city and Anuvia signed a contract, which included a $1.5 million payment from Anuvia for any impacts to the city,” said Yoder by email. “We are in full compliance of this contract and, while we appreciate the efforts the city is making and desire to be a great partner, we believe the $1.5 million we have paid is what should be used. In addition, the Woodward & Curran report clearly stated there are many reasons for the issues at the wastewater plant, with the majority being internal, having nothing to do with the water coming from Anuvia.”