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Waste Not, Want Not: Cape Girardeau Public Works Now Converts Wastewater Substances Into Fertilizer

Courtesy of Stan Polivick
An aerial of the new wastewater treatment plant.

For roughly seven weeks now, the city of Cape Girardeau has been testing out a new treatment process for turning “bio-solids” in residents' wastewater into a substance that could benefit the region in the long term. 

Sewage sludge is being dried out in an oven by public works personnel and turned into pellets, which are also being trialled with select local farmers as a potential fertilizer. Public works director Stan Polivick says it all started with the development of a new water treatment plant. 

“Instead of paying to dispose of it and put in a landfill where it does no good, now we’re able to avoid the disposal costs and put it in an environment where it is doing some good,” Polivick says.

In the near future, they will be supplying some local farmers with the pellets when they use the oven on occasion. Though the creation of the facility has been some time coming, he says.

“The city began planning for a new wastewater treatment plant in the 2009-2010 time frame,” Polivick says. “The leaders at that time were forward-thinking and made a choice to put in what is called a drier unit to dry our bio-solids and actually make that into a commercial-grade fertilizer product.”