Biosolids SPOTLIGHT: A focus on the people of biosolids who work in our region

SPOTLIGHT FEBRUARY 2021 on Data Nerds of Biosolids

Just the other day the big news was that Bitcoin valuation had topped a trillion dollars, but today its value is off 17%. Had I not written the blog on Blockchain Biosolids, I would have even been more clueless than I am about bitcoin and blockchains, except that occasionally I suffer from FOMO (fear of missing out). What I can say is that, but for the enormously expanding capability of digital recordkeeping capabilities in the world, bitcoin would not be a thing. What I can also say is that biosolids recordkeeping and data analysis is much more where the industry was in 1993, when the Part 503 regulations were promulgated, than it is in 2021. For that reason, we must check into the corners of our profession for those individuals who have embraced the kind of "transparency and trust" that blockchain data systems promise, and those who are committed to advancing our processes and practices to a new dimension.  

Bryan Cauthorn - VADEQ and the new Environmental Data Mapper

Bryan CauthornBryan Cauthorn ([email protected], 804.698.4592) is the Biosolids Compliance Coordinator for the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality.  Bryan started his biosolids career in 1990 working for a private contractor in the land application program.  After 17 years, Bryan made the move to DEQ in 2007. For much of this time, Byran has championed the creation of the Environmental Data Mapper,  a geographic database of all approved land application sites in Virginia, a “groundbreaking” accomplishment in our profession.  Bryan holds a B.S. in Agricultural Economics degree from Virginia Tech and is a Certified Nutrient Management Specialist in the state of Virginia.  He has always liked working with farmers to learn more about agriculture and to share what he has learned.  In his time off, he helps on the family farm raising corn, soybeans, barley, hog, and cattle, and processing meat with custom slaughter.  As a child on the farm, he also raised broiler chickens, laying hens for eggs, rabbits, vegetables, and tobacco.  He enjoys a hard day’s work to help clear the mind from working in an office all week.  In his spare time, he volunteers at the Tappahannock-Warsaw Moose Lodge running bingo and he serves as assistant scoutmaster for Boy Scout Troop 304 in Tappahannock. 

 Aaron Stephens - Vice President, Data and Information Management, Material Matters

Aaron StephensAaron Stephens, Material Matters, 717-367-9697, x-103, [email protected] is Vice President and partner with Material Matters, responsible for data and information management projects. Aaron is an E.I.T. with an MS degree in Agricultural and Biological Engineering from Penn State.  Starting in 2002, Aaron lent his “data nerd” talent to Material Matters in the development of the Material Manager™ database, a system that provides geographically based records of land applications, both producing worksheets for prospective spreading activities and records for regulatory submissions.  Aaron has served as a project manager since 2006 with multiple industrial and food processing clients and has project experience involving waste heat utilization.  Aaron is a sci-fi aficionado, enjoys playing with microelectronics for home automation, builds small drones, tracks excess deaths from CDC data not properly ascribed to Covid-19, and, on a lighter note, uses his ingenuity to foil the squirrels at his bird feeders.


Elyssa Arnold - US EPA Biosolids Team, Risk Assessment 

Elyssa Arnold

Elyssa Arnold ([email protected], 202-566-1189) is the Risk Assessment Lead in the U.S. EPA Office of Water’s Biosolids Program. She manages EPA’s efforts to assess the risk of chemical pollutants found in biosolids following land application, incineration, or surface disposal to ensure EPA meets its obligations under the Clean Water Act. Elyssa is working to prioritize the list of chemicals found in biosolids for risk assessment and to develop an exposure model to use for screening-level risk assessments. She also spends a lot of time working on PFAS issues. Elyssa joined the Biosolids Program in May 2020 after 9 years focused on ecological risk assessment in EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs. Elyssa grew up in Maryland, where she now lives with her husband, two young children, one very tolerant dog, and a big vegetable garden that produces mostly cucumbers.

Justin Wippo - Technical Manager, Thermal Process Systems

Justin WippoJustin Wippo, Technical Manager for Thermal Process Systems ([email protected] 219-669-6644) studied chemical engineering at Purdue University with a period abroad at the University of Queensland in Australia. After graduating with his B.S. in chemical engineering in 2017 he joined Thermal Process Systems, Inc, based in Crown Point, IN. There he oversees the research and development of several new processes. The most prominent of these projects is the development of a new approach for the combination of anaerobic and aerobic digestion technologies that provide benefits to the anaerobic digester such as the reduction of H2S in the biogas and struvite in the digester. This work has branched off into researching different methods of treating biosolids that improve the efficiency of phosphorus recovery processes and help balance the nitrogen and phosphorus in biosolids for land application. His appreciation for sustainability goes beyond his career, so when he is not traveling to hike in the mountains, he spends his spare time doing preservation and restoration projects at local nature preserves.




Co-digestion of trucked-in high-strength organic wastes with a facility’s wastewater solids can present a special opportunity for energy self-sufficiency and additional revenues. But co-digestion is not a surefire winner. The Water Research Foundation completed in 2019 a study Food Waste Co-Digestion at Water Resource Recovery Facilities: Business Case Analysis which explored case studies across the country, including two in the MABA region.  The findings of the study were well reported in a BioCycle magazine article  Successful Business Strategies For Co-digestion At WRRFs (December 2019).  These two reports layout the wide array of factors at play in whether co-digestion is a good choice. In the MABA region, here is a spotlight on facilities that are making it work.

The Derry Township Municipal Authority Clearwater WWTP

Derry Township

The Derry Township Municipal Authority (DTMA) Clearwater WWTP, located in Hershey, PA, treats an average flow of 5 MGD of municipal wastewater within its service area. The DTMA accepts hauled-in septage, FOG, and HSOW (high strength organic waste) that is biodegradable and non-toxic to biological treatment processes.  The HSOW is fed to an egg-shaped digester, and liquid digested sludge is dewatered using a centrifuge or belt filter press to produce a Class B biosolids cake used by farmers as a fertilizer. The co-digestion process generates large quantities of methane (biogas). Currently the biogas is used for building and liquid digester sludge heating and as fuel for the cogeneration facility which generates electrical power for use in the plant. DTMA is embarking on a $14 million project to expand its capacity for energy recovery and beneficial reuse, which is the first phase of a larger plan to realize a vision of achieving and exceeding onsite energy neutrality through expanded co-digestion of HSOW. The project scope includes upgrading biogas storage, conditioning, and conveyance capacity, and constructing a new CHP building that houses two 1,000-kW CHP systems. Future projects include expanding digester capacity, installing an upgraded hauled-in waste receiving station, new dewatering equipment, and a new thermal drying system to produce Class A biosolids production. Two significant floods at the plant over the last 10 years had caused damage to the CHP and solids handling systems, which led DTMA to re-configure its solids handling and energy systems for sustainability into the future.  

For more information, contact William G. Rehkop III, P.E., Executive Director, Derry Township Municipal Authority, 670 Clearwater Road, Hershey, PA, (717)566-3237, [email protected]

The Hermitage Municipal Authority    

HermitageThe Hermitage Municipal Authority ("Authority") completed upgrades at its Water Pollution Control Plant ("WPCP") in May 2014. This upgrade expanded wastewater treatment capacity and introduced a Two-Phase Anaerobic Digestion ("2P AD") complex to its plant operations. This 2PAD complex optimized the solids handling train by further promoting biosolids stabilization, biogas recovery, and generation of both heat and power.  Biogas produced during the breakdown of volatile solids in the anaerobic digesters is collected and upgraded for several applications, including combustion fuels for combined heat and power generation. Although waste activated sludge has been the traditional source of feedstock for the digesters, the Authority vigorously pursued alternative feedstocks to improve biogas generation and yield, and for that purpose installed receiving facilities for milk and other liquids and pretreatment sequencing tanks. The food waste, mainly from commercial food manufacturers, has included ice cream, milk, fruit juice, and yogurt, and with the introduction of Veolia ECRUSORTM preprocessing equipment packaged waste can be accepted.  Gas clean-up is accomplished by the BioSpark System, and the gas is both used to create electricity for the plant through Caterpillar 600 kVA biogas engines and used in municipal natural gas vehicles. 

For more information, contact Tom Darby, superintendent, Hermitage Municipal Authority, 2133 Broadway Ave., Hermitage, PA 16148, (724) 347-347-4941, [email protected]

Harrisonburg-Rockingham Sewerage Authority

HarrisonburgHRRSA provides wholesale wastewater treatment services to 5 municipal jurisdictions in the central Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. It serves a population of approximately 80,000 residents, and it owns the 22 MGD North River WWTF, which operates enhanced nutrient removal for compliance with strict standards of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. In late 2019, the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Regional Sewer Authority (HRRSA) commissioned a new thermal dryer system to produce Class A E/Q biosolids at its North River WWTF. HRRSA fuels this dryer with the gas produced by anaerobic digesters which stabilized both combined sludges, but also high-strength waste received from commercial sources.  HRRSA also has heat recovery to leverage its digester gas for fueling the dryer system, thereby requiring zero supplemental propane. The MABA webinar of January 19, 2021, Sustainable Biosolids Management with Thermal Drying and Co-Digestion, with DJ Wacker (RK&K Engineers) and Sharon Foley (retiring Executive Director) describes lessons learned from both the Owner’s and Engineer’s perspectives. 

For more information, contact: Greg Thomasson. [email protected]. and 540.434.1053 at the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Regional Sewerage Authority, 856 North River Road, Mount Crawford, Virginia, 22841.

The Landis Sewerage Authority  

Landis Liquid TankThe Landis Sewerage Authority (LSA), located in Vineland NJ operates a 10.2 MGD advanced treatment facility (nitrification/denitrification) and has been accepting FOG, liquid food waste, and small deliveries of cow manure since December 2014 for addition to its anaerobic digesters. The goal to start this acceptance was multifaceted: to provide an environmentally sound disposal/utilization option for serval local food processors, to eliminate the then practice of hauling treatment plant grease/scum for incineration, and to increase methane production for CHP to produce electrical power and hot water. The result is gas production is up by over 50%. The digested solids are applied to the LSA’s 380-acre farm to grow corn, hay, small grains as well as straw, and the solids are also applied to over 150 acres of woodlands for increased tree growth for an eventual legacy crop for pulp and paper and ongoing habitat. Woodlands are also an ideal application alternative when farm fields may not be accessible. Volatile Acid/Alkalinity ratios have increased, as has gas production. While prior to the addition of the extra feedstock this ratio was at the low end of textbook levels of 0.05-0.07, for the last 3.5 years the ratio has averaged 0.105. In the early years, only 30,000 - 40,000 gallons of feedstock were received per month, but deliveries grew to 130,000-180,000 per month in 2017 and 2018, and now in 2021 a total of 250,000 to 350,000 gallons per month are being delivered.

For more information, contact Dennis W. Palmer, P.E. Executive Director, Landis Sewerage Authority, 1776 S. Mill Rd, Vineland, NJ 08360, (856) 691-0551, [email protected].

NYC DEP's Newton Creek Wastewater Resource Recovery Facility

Newtown CreekNYC DEP’s Newtown Creek Wastewater Resource Recovery Facility in Brooklyn has, arguably, the most recognizable set of digesters in the county, eight 145-foot-tall egg digesters, as it receives press coverage each Valentine’s Day for the tours it gives to romantic lovers atop the digesters. But notable for co-digestion has been the pioneering, in several of the Newtown digesters, the inclusion of food waste. The food waste is a slurry feed supplied by Waste Management from its proprietary technique for processing commercial post-consumer food waste, the “CORe” process, into an Engineered BioSlurry.  Commencing in 2016, the successful pilot is now considered a routine operation. The COVID pandemic has caused what is hopefully only a temporary dip in the slurry volumes delivered to Newtown. The digester gas from Newtown digesters will soon be cleaned and dried to standards of natural gas and delivered to a neighboring National Grid gas line by early next year. The pilot project took in approximately 20 tons of slurry daily to Newtown, which considering the City’s over a half million tons of recoverable food waste annually, is a small amount. The Newtown system is capable of a throughput of up to 250 tons daily, which DEP hopes to meet as the pandemic recedes and the City bounces back.

For more information visit Closing the Loop: When Wastewater Treatment Becomes Resource Recovery | by NYC Water Staff | NYC Water | Medium or, contact Jen McDonnell, Resource Recovery Program Manager, NYC Department of Environmental Protection, (718) 596-5996, [email protected].






This issue of the MABA SPOTLIGHT introduces you to the MABA board members who are providing leadership in 2021.  They are helping ensure that MABA continues to offer relevant programs and technical information, continuing education events, and volunteering opportunities to its membership, as well as tracking industry issues and actively advocating for the biosolids profession.

John Uzupis

John Uzupis 1

John Uzupis ([email protected], (410) 371-3195), is President of the MABA Board of Trustees. John is the Technical Services Director for Synagro Mid-Atlantic region. John has been with Synagro since 1996 in various roles and, in today’s role, he is responsible for managing the land base, permits, and compliance for beneficial reuse of biosolids and other residuals. He is an appointed member of Maryland’s Phosphorus Management Advisory Committee. He holds a B.S. in Environmental Resource Management from Pennsylvania State University and is a Certified Nutrient Management Specialist in the State of Pennsylvania. Prior to joining Synagro, John worked for the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Resources permitting mine reclamation sites.  John enjoys the mountains:  biking, hiking, fishing, hunting, and looking at them, especially with my wife Denise and two sons, Aidan and Nolan.  

Al Razik

Al Razik 1

Al Razik ([email protected], (443) 223-5773) has been Treasurer of the MABA since 2013   Al began his career 42 years ago as a student intern working in anaerobic digestion research at the Institute of Gas Technology: “I was sold on the concept of resource recovery from wastes.” Seven years later, he moved to Maryland Environmental Service (MES): “I am responsible for the execution of our organization’s biosolids program, where I manage all aspects of the solids and residuals generated from over 80 facilities. You have to have a passion towards the goal of beneficial reuse to help solve one of society’s most pressing problems – what to do with our wastes AND recycle them while protecting public health.”  Al is a native of the South Side of Chicago and remains a diehard Cubs fan!. He and his wife Susan are parents to four grown children, two precocious grandsons, and two small dogs who think they are kids. Quarantining has brought about new projects. One new venture is cooking, which is a work in progress, and he is recapturing his joy of running.  Al says, “I like being outside when the weather is nice, running on the BWI trail near my house.”

Anne Marek 

Anne Marek 1Anne Marek ([email protected], (215) 589-2162) is the Secretary of the MABA Board of Trustees. Since October 2016, Anne has been the Regional Sales Engineer at Kershner Environmental Technologies, LLC, a manufacturer’s representative in environmental technologies located in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.  Anne serves the central and northeast Pennsylvania regions with innovative technologies to provide communities with clean drinking water and treat used water.  Her goal is to partner during the early phases of process technology selection and to aid customers in the conceptualization of the projects with innovative solutions. Anne has always been an outdoor enthusiast, which likely contributed to her settling into environmental engineering. While dreaming of the day she can start traveling again, you can usually find her running along the river in Harrisburg in hopes of being able to race soon, cooking up a tasty new recipe in the kitchen, or volunteering for her city as a Planning Commissioner and for the Junior League, giving back to those in need.

Howard Matteson

Howard Matteson

Howard Matteson([email protected], (732) 289-7347) is co-Chair of the Programming Committee of the MABA Board.  Howard is a Principal Environmental Engineer and Senior Project Manager for CDM Smith Inc., having first joined the firm as an engineering co-op student, pursuing a second bachelor’s degree from Northeastern University (the first was in history from Colgate). He now has 25 years of experience in management and engineering for planning and design, permitting, and construction of a variety of infrastructure projects, and is experienced in comprehensive wastewater treatment plant upgrades, with a focus on resource recovery. Howard serves as the firm’s Authority Engineer for the Rahway Valley Sewerage Authority (RVSA) and Lambertville Municipal Utilities Authority (LMUA) and has managed other major authority assignments in the New York metro area. Howard lives in New Jersey with this wife, two children, a dog, and a cat. In his spare time, he enjoys weekend home projects, hiking, and, to a lesser degree, small appliance repair. 

 Sean Fallon 

Sean Fallon 1Sean Fallon ([email protected], 919.406.4270) is Vice President of the MABA Board of Trustees. He joined the McGill Environmental Systems management team in 2012 and has been pivotal in the growth of this large-scale composting technology group. His role at McGill includes overseeing business development and intake for all US-based facilities as well as spearheading company-wide safety and educational programs. Sean is a seasoned business development professional with over 20 years of expertise in driving client growth and sustainability awareness.  Sean’s life-long passion has always been focused on the environment and outdoors. He resides on a small farm in NC and is the co-founder of a non-profit animal sanctuary that provides loving homes for farm animals that need a second chance. In his off time, he can be found working the farm or spending time with animals, whom he calls family. Sean is also a lead singer of a popular rock cover band and has performed with noteworthy musicians and acts.  

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