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The City of Edmonds currently owns and operates a regional wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) at 2nd Ave S and SR104. The plant contains a complex system of pumps, tanks, and mechanical systems to clean, disinfect, and ultimately discharge clean water into Puget Sound. 

Starting in 2013 the staff at the WWTP began to implement a “Pathway to Sustainability” that would reduce the plant’s energy consumption and reduce its carbon emissions. Three significant efficiency upgrade projects have been completed: 1) Replacing several lower efficiency blowers with smaller, more efficient ones, 2) replacing and repairing the aeration system piping and delivery nozzles as well as several remaining blowers, and 3) replacing the biosolids dewatering equipment. These three projects have resulted in electricity cost savings of over $200,000 per year, and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions (primarily carbon dioxide) of 1,146 tons per year. Now the WWTP has begun a Carbon Recovery project that will achieve another significant step on the WWTP’s Pathway to Sustainability.                                   
WWTP Pathway to snip

During the process of treating wastewater, solids are removed, concentrated, and burned in a high temperature furnace (incinerator). The incinerator is not only expensive to operate in terms of electrical use and significant maintenance costs, but the residual ash must also be transported to the landfill for disposal. This process does not recover heat nor create valuable by-products for reuse. Further, the incinerator is nearing the point in time when it must be replaced in order to meet new regulatory standards.

In 2018 the Edmonds City Council authorized the evaluation of alternative technologies and a cost/benefit comparison to replace the inefficient and aging incinerator with alternative biosolids disposal methods that are energy neutral or energy positive. After a thorough evaluation of modern technologies, staff at the plant identified pyrolysis as the best method to use because it will reduce operation and maintenance costs and also reduce the plant’s energy costs and its environmental impact. With this innovative approach, rather than sending truckloads of ash to the landfill, the pyrolysis system will generate biochar which will further benefit the community and set a benchmark of sustainability within the wastewater industry.

What are pyrolysis and biochar? “Pyrolysis is a naturally occurring phenomenon that can be defined as the thermal decomposition of organic material through the controlled application of heat in the absence of abundant air or oxygen.” Through this process, that takes place at temperatures between 660 and 1,650 degrees F, three co-products may be obtained: syngas, bio-oil, and biochar. Syngas and bio-oil are recoverable sources of energy that will be used within the process to reduce energy consumption. Biochar is a valuable, charcoal-like material with numerous beneficial uses from industrial filtration to soil remediation.

Using this technology will further reduce the treatment plant’s electricity, natural gas, and even our diesel fuel usage while at the same time producing an end product that can be used locally by the City or sold. Another beneficial aspect of Biochar is it eliminates any remaining hormones and pathogens (disease causing bacteria and viruses) from biosolids, reduces pollutants released into the environment. Heavy metals from the wastewater stream are sequestered into the biochar where they remain and are not released into soil. The graphic below shows Pyrolysis and biochar in the biochar Cycle. (Courtesy of Carbon Washington, www.carbonwa.org)
WWTP Carbon Biochar                    

Biochar is garnering more and more attention among the business community, environmentalists, foresters, Washington State University researchers, and the Washington State Legislature, which recently passed Senate Joint Memorial 8005 supporting research efforts to produce and use biochar. The City of Edmonds is proud to participate with these groups and to be a leader with our “Pathway to Sustainability” at the wastewater treatment plant.

City of Edmonds Wastewater Treatment Plant Recognized as “Utility of the Future Today”

The City of Edmonds is only one of three in the state, and one of 65 nationally, to be recognized as a “Utility of the Future Today” — a recognition that celebrates the achievements of water utilities that transition from the traditional wastewater treatment system to a resource recovery center and leader in the overall sustainability and resilience of the communities they serve.

“For the past eight years, we have worked with our partners and the community to create a culture of continuous improvement,” said Pamela Randolph, Wastewater Treatment Manager.

“Each year, we measure our performance and challenge ourselves to always do better on our ‘Pathway to Sustainability,’” said Phil Williams, Public Works Director. “And with the City Council’s decision to move forward with the Carbon Recovery Project, Edmonds is certainly headed in the right direction.”

The Utility of the Future Today program was launched in 2016 by the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA), the Water Environment Federation (WEF), the Water Research Foundation (WRF) and the WateReuse Association, with input from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

“The Water Environment Federation is excited to recognize the Edmonds WWTP for embracing innovative ways to better serve their communities,” said Jackie Jarrell, WEF President.

“The innovations coming to the water sector present an opportunity for a paradigm shift in the way utilities think about and solve long-standing challenges to clean and reliable water,” said Jarrell. “WEF is excited to recognize the Edmonds WWTP for embracing innovative ways to better serve their communities.”

The Wastewater Treatment Plant cleans everything that runs down the sink, tub or toilet, before sending it into Puget Sound. “The Wastewater treatment plant is the single greatest electricity user in the City, so a reduction of energy cost by 45% translates directly to lower rates for the community we serve,” said Randolph. “This project is one of many sustainability projects the Edmonds Public Works Department is committed to.”

Edmonds WWTP will be recognized during a pre-recorded awards ceremony on Oct. 9 at 8 a.m. PT during WEFTEC Connect.

If you would like to know more about wastewater treatment or our energy-saving projects, please contact Pamela Randolph at 425-771-0237.

To learn more about the Utility of the Future program, visit http://www.wef.org/UtilityoftheFuture or contact UtilityRecognition@wef.org.

Edmonds Diversity Commission Offers Small Grants

Community projects that promote diversity, equity and inclusion sought for funding. The City of Edmonds Diversity Commission is announcing the opening of the application period for the first round of 2021 grant awards. For more information click here. For grant application form and information click here.

Flags at Half Staff in Memory

flag half staffFlags are at half-staff in memory of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg who died on September 18, 2020. Flags will remain at half-staff until the day of internment.

City of Edmonds Seeks Diversity Commission Members

Edmonds Diversity Commission has three open positions for three-year terms. Edmonds residents interested in working on issues, programs and activities associated with the changing demographics of our community and enhancing an environment of mutual respect and understanding are encouraged to apply to fill three positions on the City’s Diversity Commission that will be open as of January 1, 2021. For more information click here

**UPDATED** "Coping with Collective Trauma: A Resiliency Toolkit"

Please note the change of date to Wednesday, September 30 at 6 p.m. for "Coping with Collective Trauma: A Resiliency Toolkit" a virtual workshop presented by the Edmonds Diversity Commission. Zoom information has been updated and is available in attached press release. Click here for more information. 

Edmonds CARES Fund Distributes More Than $150,000

$300,000 is still available for housing, groceries, child care, utilities, medical bills

Tapping into the Federal CARES Act Fund and re-allocated City funds, the City of Edmonds continues to distribute funds from its $450,000 “Housing and Supplementary Relief” program, offering grants of up to $1,000 for 1- and 2-member households and $1,500 for households of 3 or more members to cover expenses related to rent/mortgage, food, medical bills, child care, gas or utilities. The only requirement is that residents must earn no more than 60 percent of the Snohomish County Median Income. (Read more)

Latest Housing Survey Results Are In. . . . . .

Among findings, residents like backyard cottages. The results of nearly 700 responses to the second community survey of the Edmonds Housing Commission have been released. In this survey, community members were asked to share their thoughts on six areas related to housing and 16 policy ideas. For more information click here

Face Coverings are REQUIRED on Edmonds Fishing Pier

The City begins outreach campaign to increase compliance

Concerned residents continue to contact the Edmonds Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services team about the Edmonds Fishing Pier. They report that few people are wearing face coverings and it is putting pier visitors at risk. Residents have turned to the City to help.

The City has determined that unless more people mask up, the City will have no choice but to close the fishing pier to all visitors to meet state standards to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Today, the City begins a week-long outreach campaign to increase the number of masked visitors. (Read more)

Edmonds LEAPs into Action to Help Families with School-Age Kids

 

The City pivots to provide daytime programs so parents can work

(Edmonds, WA) When the Edmonds School District announced distance learning for fall 2020, many parents sat down to do some hard thinking: how would they work and manage kids at home simultaneously.

The City of Edmonds Parks Department heard them and spent the last several weeks developing ideas. Today, the City introduces LEAP – Learning Enhancement & Activity Program. LEAP will provide a safe and affordable, on-site recreation program that supports academic efforts for local, school-aged youth as long as practically possible and while Edmonds School District maintains distance learning.

The program repurposes the Frances Anderson Center (FAC) to support children entering second through sixth grade.

“The City can be a steward of our community and we saw this as an innovative way to redirect our community-owned facilities and staff to support our families including those most in need during this very challenging time,” said Edmonds Mayor Mike Nelson. “Plus, I know our parks staff really misses that daily community engagement as much as our community does.”

LEAP Program details

The program will operate Monday – Friday from 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and provide day camp activities while supporting ESD distance learning. The program will group similar grade-level kids and staff into weekly pods in the FAC classrooms.

Children can be dropped off/picked up any time of the day with emphasis on pod room scheduling 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Room capacity varies from 10 to 24 and each room will have at least two staff members to provide a 1:10 staff/child ratio minimum. This ratio allows better safety practices, facilitation of distance learning support and will provide the ability to keep pods isolated from one another as much as possible to reduce potential COVID exposure. It also helps contain any potential outbreak to just one pod.

Supplemental programming comes from Environmental Education and Cultural Arts divisions as well as community partners like Sno-King sports to provide additional day camp programming.

Weekly registration is $300 and $345 for non-resident with need-based full scholarships availability for a minimum of 20% of the participants. Program capacity is 100 participants.

On Tuesday, Aug. 25, the City will ask the Council to approve two new positions that will allow the City to move forward with recruiting, hiring and training staff. The program is revenue neutral.

City Seeks Two New Economic Development Commission Members

There are currently two open positions on the Citizens Economic Development Commission (CEDC) for which the City seeks interested applicants.

“Promoting economic activity in Edmonds enhances our quality of life and creates jobs,” commented Mayor Mike Nelson. “Our Economic Development Commissioners provide valuable advice on many issues before the City Council, staff, and the Mayor.” For more information click here

Edmonds Wraps up Second Community Housing Survey

Info to be used for Housing Commission policy discussions

(Edmonds, WA) – The Edmonds Housing Commission’s recent Community Housing Survey closed this weekend. Commission members now have more good information from residents as they move forward with ‘Round One’ policy concepts about the future of housing in Edmonds. The data will be reviewed, refined, then brought again to the public later this year for additional input.

The Housing Commission, created by the City Council in 2019 to identify policies that expand the availability of housing in Edmonds, is scheduled to deliver policy recommendations to the Council in December.

This housing survey, the second of three planned, had 689 responses - 601 online responses and 88 paper responses. Postcards were sent to more than three thousand randomly selected residents, inviting them to attend the online open house and take the survey. Additional outreach was conducted via social media. Another 600 paper copies of the survey were sent to randomized residents in all parts of Edmonds.

In all, the online open house had 1731 visits. Although the actual survey is closed, resident can still see the short presentations about housing concepts online at https://www.echcopenhouse.com/policyideas.  When tallying is complete, the survey results will be released for all to see.

The Commission met Thursday, Aug. 13 for its monthly meeting to begin discussing policy ideas for ‘Round Two’ consideration. Each of five committees briefly described what they are working on for the ‘Round Two’ policy ideas. The efforts included new ideas for multi-family design standards, cluster housing, neighborhood villages, barriers to housing access (with focus on equity), the multi-family tax exemption program, homelessness prevention, childcare, and more.

Round 2 ideas will be further discussed in September and prepared for community input soon afterward. The Commission’s recommendations will go to the Council for more consideration and public input in 2021.  Any action will then be up to the City Council.

To learn more about the Housing Commission and their work, check out our blog or their website. We also posted a housing Q and A that answers your questions that we pulled from social media and Council comments.