Wastewater into Fertilizer
Nansemond treatment plant unveils recycling process
By Tracey Agnew
Residents in Suffolk and surrounding communities now are able to help manufacture fertilizer simply by flushing the toilet.
The Hampton Roads Sanitation District and Ostara on Thursday unveiled a new process at HRSD’s Nansemond treatment plant in Suffolk that will extract nutrients from wastewater and convert them into a slow-release fertilizer. Environmental attorney Robert F. Kennedy Jr. was the keynote speaker at the event.
“This will help to reduce the human impact on the environment while we work to reduce our ecological footprint,” Mayor Linda T. Johnson said at the event. “We have welcomed the $38 million investment in upgrades to the plant.”
The investments included about $5.3 million to install Ostara’s innovative technology that extracts phosphorus and ammonia from wastewater before fluid is discharged into the James River. The nutrients then are manufactured into tiny beads of fertilizer called Crystal Green, which is sold to offset the costs associated with the project.
The process helps keep excess phosphorus and ammonia out of the James River — where they could choke wildlife by depleting the waters of oxygen — while at the same time cutting down on maintenance needs at the treatment facility, said plant manager William Balzer. The slow-release fertilizer also produces less runoff into the region’s waterways than traditional fertilizer, he said.
“It’s a matter of recovering that material and being able to reuse it,” Balzer said.