March 2008, Vol. 20, No.3


Digestion Gas Déjà-Vu

Wayne Eakins,John H. Scarino

The article by Paul Cockrell [“U.S. Greasing Digesting-Gas Production,” January] was nostalgic since it recalled a similar process that we were involved with more than 35 years ago when we were associated with Clinton Bogert Associates (CBA).

For years, clients had serious problems disposing of grease. CBA designed a system very similar to that described in the article, and a patent on the process was obtained in November 1971.

The system was initially utilized at the Bergen County Utilities in Little Falls, N.J. Not only did the CBA system resolve the grease disposal problem, it also improved gas production in the digester, which was used in heating and as a fuel in dual-fuel engines driving aeration blowers and driving standby generators for emergency power.  

Wayne Eakins, president John H. Scarino, executive vice president S&E Engineers Inc. Riverdale, N.J

Turf Wars

Mike Archer

Ron Trygar’s letter to the editor [“Reducing Nutrient Loadings,” January] raises good points regarding reviewing all phosphorus sources to groundwater. In response to his statement, “I haven’t seen or heard of any effort to monitor or reduce the amount of fertilizers that are used by residential users or, moreover, the commercial lawn companies across the United States,” I offer the following information.

The State of Florida is in the process of implanting a comprehensive nitrogen and phosphorus nutrient management plan directed at homeowners called the “Florida Urban Turf Fertilizer Rule.” This rule defines the types and rates of nitrogen fertilizer that may be applied plus the rate of phosphate fertilizer that may be applied by homeowners in differing geographic regions of Florida. Florida also has implemented nutrient management plans for professionally managed turf, and has issued “Best Management Practices for the Enhancement of Environmental Quality on Florida Golf Courses.”

These rules, along with those passed by various municipalities (Madison, Wis., for one), regions (Dane County, Wis.), states (Minnesota), and those proposed by both Wisconsin and Michigan (statewide), among others in the United States and Canada, attempt to define and regulate the amount of phosphorus fertilizers that may be applied to urban turf by homeowners and turf care professionals. Please note that this is only a small indication of the local, regional, and statewide legislative efforts. However, legislation regarding nutrient usage is only effective when it is supported by sound, peer-reviewed research. Efforts are currently underway to ban all phosphorus fertilizers from consumer and professional turf use. Some of this legislation is driven by science, much is not.

The Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District, in support of its Milorganite® fertilizers, continues to sponsor research as to the environmental effects of phosphorus contained in biosolids. This work, along with other research, indicates that heat-dried biosolids, containing high iron and aluminum, tend to keep phosphorus from immediately moving into the soil profile. Continuing work is being done to see if a “time bomb” effect will later release this element.

We are watching and reacting to these developments. We have testified in numerous public hearings, met with regulators and legislative personnel, and have written “model legislation” for those who are considering regulating phosphorus. Because of the results of this research, we are asking for, and in some cases receiving, legislative exemptions from phosphorus limits or bans for heat-dried biosolids.

As Mr. Trygar notes in his letter, we are all responsible for the environment.  

Mike Archer Market development and distribution manager Milorganite Franklin, Wis

Eyeing Laboratory Safety

Kevin Riskowitz

I was disappointed to see the Operations Challenge photo [December, p. 76]. Have they allowed competitors in the laboratory section to compete without safety glasses? I also looked at the online photo gallery and did not see anyone using safety glasses, although gloves were used.

I have judged this portion of the Florida event for several years and would not have allowed this to occur. At the pre-competition the use of safety glasses is emphasized.

The 2007 Laboratory Event Rules listed safety glasses as part of the materials required. I guess the main judge did not have an issue with it. I feel that this sets a bad example. I do not know where the judges are from, but if I found someone in our laboratory doing this kind of work without glasses, they would be written up. It will be interesting to see what the rules have next year.

What Do You Think?

WE&T welcomes your observations on topics that are covered in the magazine or are otherwise relevant to the wastewater treatment industry. Letters that are chosen for publication may be edited for factual accuracy, clarity, style, and length.

Please send your letters intended for publication via e-mail to, or mail to Melissa H. Jackson, WE&T, c/o Water Environment Federation, 601 Wythe Street, Alexandria, VA 22314-1994 USA. Please include your full name, professional title, organization name, daytime phone number, and city, state, and country of residence.

Kevin Riskowitz Laboratory supervisor City of St. Petersburg, Fla.

Stacie Metzler, Operations Challenge laboratory event coordinator, responds: Thank you for your keen observation and concern. Safety glasses were indeed listed as equipment for this event, but other factors were considered that we felt justified allowing the competitors in the laboratory section of Operations Challenge 2007 to participate without safety glasses. The materials and solutions used did not pose any type of safety threat — tap water is used for all “reagents.” The sample is a neutral solution, (7.2 approx. pH), a very low concentration. Many participants wear prescription glasses, which, when covered by safety glasses, can impair vision, possibly resulting in a disadvantage in reading pipettes, or recording data from meters. Skylights in the competition area for this event subjected it to intense glare on some tables and meter displays. Wearing safety glasses could have compounded this effect depending on time of day and which of the four tables a team drew. Safety is always a primary concern, whether in a laboratory setting where water samples and reagents are present, or a competition where actual analytical reagents are used. Safety glasses are a must to ensure the safety of all analysts. In many cases, analysts that require corrective eyewear have prescription safety glasses, or other specialty personal protective equipment for their eyes.