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New loader key to Elkins wastewater biosolids program
ELKINS — With the delivery of a new piece of heavy equipment this week, the Elkins Wastewater Treatment Plant is positioned to continue and potentially expand a program through which sewage-treatment by-products are transformed into fertilizer for area farmers.
The approximately $100,000 purchase of a LiuGong 835H wheel loader was funded from the City of Elkins’ ARPA award. The new loader includes a Cummins engine and power-shift transmission, safety features such as a rearview camera and 309-degree panoramic view from the operator’s seat, and a fully sealing cab that will provide better protection against fumes generated during wastewater treatment.
The new loader, which replaced one that was four decades old, is crucial to the department’s biosolids program.
Biosolids, a semisolid, nutrient-rich substance also known as “sewage sludge,” are a product of the wastewater treatment process. Once sewage arrives at the plant through the pipes of the wastewater collection system, it passes through a series of steps that separate its liquid and solid components. The liquid components are purified before being released as surface water. The solid components are treated to produce biosolids, which may then be applied to qualifying agricultural land as fertilizer.