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

On the Road: MABA executive director tours more plants in the region
WSSC Water Piscataway & New Bioenergy Facility and Lancaster Area Sewer Authority Facility

As you might recall, MABA’s recently appointed executive director, Mary Firestone, joined MABA Board members earlier this year for her first tours of facilities in the region including Capital Region Water of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and Derry Township of Hershey, Pennsylvania. The first tours aided Mary in beginning to understand the world of wastewater treatment and biosolids, and she was eager to begin planning future tours to afford an even better grasp of the biosolids sector.

“It’s one thing to speak about the ideas and treatment processes, but I’ve always found myself to be much more of a hands-on learner,” she said, “Being able to see the facilities and watch it as it happens really brought it all together.”

And that understanding grew more still, as Mary and MABA Board members Anne Marek and John Uzupis, toured the WSSC Water Piscataway and construction for the new Bioenergy Facilities, as well as the Lancaster Area Sewer Authority in April. Malcolm Taylor, Principal Environmental Engineer for WSSC Water provided Mary with a complete tour of the current Piscataway facility as well as the construction process on the Bioenergy Facility, and Ed Lyle, Operations Chief, and Brian Wilcox, Plant Operations Director provided Mary, John, and Anne with a tour of the Lancaster Area Sewer Authority.

The Lancaster Area Sewer Authority (or LASA) currently owns, operates, and maintains a sanitary sewer system that serves approximately 40,000 customers representing about 125,000 citizens and 1,400 businesses located in nine Lancaster County municipalities.

“I read with interest about Mary’s recent tours, and reached out to offer a tour of our facility in Lancaster County,” said Mike Kyle, Executive Director of LASA. “We have a 15 MGD treatment plant with newly installed sludge handling that includes anaerobic digesters, an indirect sludge dryer, and covered storage.”

WSSC Water is transforming the way the Piscataway Water Resource Recovery Facility will handle waste from five existing water resource recovery facilities. The Piscataway Bioenergy Project - the largest and most technically advanced project ever constructed by WSSC Water - will use innovative technology to recover resources and produce green energy.

“Since the Piscataway WRRF is at the same location of the site of our Bioenergy Plant construction, I thought it would be a good opportunity for Mary to see what we are doing now and give her an idea of what we will be transitioning to,” said Malcolm Taylor, “The Piscataway Bioenergy Project will transform how WSSC Water handles biosolids, and is expected to lower operating costs by $3 million per year while reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 15%.”

The MABA Board and the executive director are eager to continue the plant tours in the coming months. If you are interested in sharing your facility with Mary and the MABA Board, please contact her at [email protected], or 845-901-7905.



Composting is an enduring process for transforming biosolids into a Class A EQ product. Compost facilities in the mid-Atlantic region span a full array of sizes, technologies, and ownership models.  The region has facilities located both at small water reclamation plants and at large treatment plants. It has windrow systems, enclosed static pile, and in-vessel agitated beds. Composting is done with various amendments -- purchased wood chips, yard debris, and organic matter recovered from solid waste. The region has various ownerships -- municipally-owned and operated composting, municipally-owned and contract-operated, and privately-owned merchant facilities. The common element to all of this variety is a product that is has a firm place in the landscape market for use in residential and commercial landscaping, as a component in soil blending, and as a specialty amendment for agriculture.  Biosolids compost is a well-tested and well-accepted soil product. What is more, at least two more biosolids composting facilities are in permitting within the region.  Below are several of the branded biosolids compost products made by MABA members

McGill SoilBuilder Premium Compost

McGillFor more than 30 years, McGill Environmental Systems has designed, built, and operated state-of-the-art indoor facilities for industrial-scale production of McGill SoilBuilder Premium Compost.   It manufactures this premium compost product through the processing and recycling of non-hazardous, biodegradable by-products and residuals from municipal, industrial, and agribusiness sources. The McGill Regional Composting Facility at Waverly (McGill-Waverly) opened in 2008.  It is in Sussex County, Virginia, near the town of Waverly.  Its primary service area includes the coastal mid-Atlantic region.  This encompasses the District of Columbia south through Richmond-Tidewater to northeastern North Carolina. McGill-Waverly accepts all types of biodegradable materials including food waste and compostable plastics.  It is designed to receive and process source-separated wastes transported in roll-off containers, tractor-trailer rigs, and other commercial vehicles that can safely tip into the receiving bunker. Located on a former timber tract, the operation processes in both banked and encapsulated bays with aerated curing.  Aerated curing eliminates the need for windrow turners at this facility.
For more information, contact Sean Fallon, Business Development Manager, [email protected], 919-406-4270. The Waverly facility is located at 5056 Beef Steak Rd, Waverly, VA 23890.

WeCare Compost

WeCareWeCare Denali, a division of Denali Water Technologies, operates 24 composting facilities around the United States, two of which are county-owned biosolids composting plants.  The Burlington Biosolids Composting Facility is a 300 ton per day capacity composting facility in Columbus, NJ, owned by Burlington County, but operated by WeCare Denali, serving about 20 agencies in the county and beyond.  It is the largest biosolids facility in New Jersey under contract operations. The Rockland Green Co-Composting Facility, owned by the Rockland County Solid Waste Authority, recycles biosolids from wastewater plants in Rockland County, NY. At both plants, biosolids are mixed with clean wood waste and then composted in in-vessel agitated bed composting systems. The finished product is used on golf courses, flower gardens, and landscaping projects, and are also ingredients in topsoil This plant is adjacent to the Authority's Materials Recovery Facility and Transfer Station in Hillburn, NY. WeCare Denali markets a suite of WeCare Compost products under its WeCare Compost, Mulch, & Soil line.

For more information, contact national sales manager, Ryan J. Cerrato, [email protected], 315-575-4595. The Burlington facility address is 800 Coc-co Lane, PO Box 318, Columbus, NJ 08022. The Rockland facility is 1988420 Torne Valley Road, Hillburn, NY 10931.

 ORGRO High Organic Compost

baltimoreORGRO is a product of the Baltimore City Compost Facility, a facility owned and operated by Veolia, under contract with the city of Baltimore Department of Public Works. This facility, which was first built in 1984, processes a 45 dry ton per day portion of the anaerobically digested biosolids from the Back River Wastewater Treatment Plant, the balance made into a thermally dried product. The compost plant produces about 35,000 cubic yards of compost in through in vessel composting and extended curing. This facility is one of the original national examples of a public-private partnership, and one of the original programs for commercial marketing of biosolids to commercial landscapers.
For more information, contact Tom Fantom, project manager, [email protected], 410-354-1636. The facility address is 5800 Quarantine Road, Baltimore, MD, 21266.

Landscaper’s Advantage

A&MLandscaper’s Advantage is the product of the A&M Compost Facility, a large enclosed static pile composting plant owned and operated in Manheim, Pennsylvania by the J.P. Mascaro company.  It is a merchant plant, accepting biosolids from a wide reach of plants in the mid-Atlantic. The facility is nearly 15 acres under roof.  Its website offers a “virtual tour” slide deck describing the components of its operation and its environmental controls, which includes under one cover both aerated composting and biofiltration.  A&M is managed by a registered professional engineer, Ryan Inch, PE, and a compost specialist, Mark Hubbard.  

For more information, contact Matt Mascaro, [email protected],  267-228-5288. The facility is located at 2022 Mountain Rd, Manheim, PA 17545.

 earthlife Compost

hawkridgeThe Hawk Ridge Composting Facility, New England’s largest compost facility, is owned and operated by Casella Organics, a MABA Board member  This facility uses an in-vessel tunnel system (the Gicom Tunnel) to compost a blend of biosolids with woodchips and sawdust, producing a screened compost with the tradename earthlIfe.  Recently, Hawk Ridge reached the distinction of delivering its one-millionth cubic yard of compost. Its wholesale customers include golf courses, nurseries, garden centers, and athletic facilities. 
For more information, contact John Leslie, [email protected], 207-461-1000. The facility is located at 3 Reynolds Road, Unity, ME 04988. 

SPOTLIGHT on Biosolids OPs (Old Professionals)

Two hundred years... that is approximately the combined years of experience of the biosolids practitioners of this month's SPOTLIGHT.  This past month we had a fabulous "meet and greet" organized by MABA Board member Carolyn Christy of YPs, those wonderfully talented and committed folks new to the biosolids profession whom we call "Young Professionals." We, who have decades of experience, who have seen the development of national standards, who were present for the launch of the new word "biosolids," are now cheering the brilliance of the YPs who have joined our niche in environmental stewardship. We will hear from a few of these YPs in April. But please join us in celebrating a few of the OPs, "the Old Professionals."

Robert (Bob) Adamski 

Bob AdamskiRobert (Bob) Adamski, retired NYCDEP and Gannett Fleming, ([email protected], (917) 836-2614). Bob’s environmental engineering career started with service in the US Army Corps of Engineers, including environmental assessments in the New York metropolitan area. Bob was at NYCDEP when New York got "out of the ocean" and helped set up the beneficial land-based alternatives. “I went on to become Deputy Commissioner and was involved nationally in WEF's and NACWA's Biosolids Committees with setting up the third-party verification of compliance.” He moved to the private sector, for ten years as VP with Gannett Fleming.  Since retiring, Bob continues to share information on biosolid issues, both nationally and internationally. He has been involved in water and sanitation projects in developing countries, serving on the Boards of Water For People and Hermandad and as Chair of NYWEA's Humanitarian Assistance Committee. He is a local director of the American Society of Military Engineers.


Robert (Bob) Pepperman

Bob PeppermanRobert (Bob) Pepperman, Synagro, ([email protected], 443-510-5695).  Bob has been employed in the biosolids management industry for 38 years. A holder of two degrees from Penn State (BS ERM, 76; MS Agronomy, 81), Bob began his career developing approaches for reclamation of disturbed lands, including the use of biosolids, for an engineering consultant in Pittsburgh.  Since moving to Baltimore in 1984, he has filled multiple roles in the industry, ranging from lead agronomist to managing biosolids-derived product distribution and to his current position in business development. Among his “favorite” projects was the assessment of subsequent development of a model for nitrogen transformation within the deep-row method of biosolids application for land reclamation.  He was a key member of the team that enabled New York to cease ocean disposal of biosolids. He and his colleagues established the program that ultimately shipped over 1,000,000 tons of NYC’s dewatered cake via rail to southeastern Colorado for beneficial use, the largest US biosolids project no one ever heard about.  In addition to his current development role, Bob also works with Synagro’s Legislative Affairs/Compliance team in addressing new regulatory initiatives. Growing up in Camp Hill (PA), Bob was a fan of all things Philadelphia (Flyers, Phillies, Eagles and, most importantly, cheesesteaks) but having married a Pittsburgh native he has, in the interest of domestic harmony, become a Steelers season ticket holder. 

Diane Garvey 

Diane HarveyDiane Garvey, Garvey Resources, Inc. (215-362-4444, [email protected]). Diane, principal of her residuals consultancy, was present at the very start of the modern biosolids era. Her career began as an entry-level engineer with the Philadelphia Water Department, witnessing the last barge load of ocean dispersed sludge, and leading its iconic research at Penn State on demonstrating the use of wastewater solids for reclaiming Pennsylvania’s surface mining. Diane served as state, regional, and national leader in this emerging professional practice, leading a new biosolids committee that helped guide Pennsylvania regulations after Part 503 was promulgated. She served as Program Chair for the WEF Residuals and Biosolids Committee in Kansas City. Diane became a certified nutrient management specialist in Maryland and Pennsylvania, and she participated in WERF research on biosolids cost accounting and on pathogen regrowth and odor. Diane married an agronomist colleague at PWD, raised two boys, and has all along kept an active life. She has been skiing in Switzerland, river cruising in Europe, horseback riding in the Wissahickon, and rescuing over 200 Weimaraners. Today, Diane also embraces her role as a grandparent to three with two more on the way, the next generation of environmentalists.  


A. Thomas Ferrero, Jr.

Tom FerreroA. Thomas (Tom) Ferrero, Jr., NAWC Environmental LLC ([email protected], (267) 250-4068).  Tom began as a septic tank pumper in a family-owned business that his father started in 1941. Tom never strayed too far from a septic tank! Tom has a B.S. degree in Civil Engineering and has been a certified Sewage Treatment Plant Operator and Sewage Enforcement Officer. From 1970 to 1998 he owned and managed a full-service septic system company, and developed, and continues to use daily (e.g., 35 MG in 2020), a process which pretreats septage prior to introduction of the liquid faction into a municipal sewage collection system and landfills or beneficially uses the dewatered solids. Tom has held positions in the septage industry Associations on a National, State, and local level, and his leadership includes being MABA’s first treasurer. He is a past President of the National Association of Wastewater Technicians (NAWT) and currently the Association’s Secretary. While no longer flying, Tom, a private pilot, could often be found flying around Pennsylvania and the surrounding states rallying support for the unification and training of septage haulers. Tom would prefer to be found miles out in the ocean hunting for elusive game fish and is looking forward to 2021 better than 2020 for fishing and traveling the United States with his wife of 53 years, Eileen, in their 5th wheel travel trailer.

Trudy Johnston

Trudy JohnstonTrudy Johnston, Managing Director, Material Matters, Inc. (717) 367-9697 x102, [email protected]). Trudy has been in the wastewater field and biosolids community for nearly 40 years. The specialty consulting firm she helped establish in 1997 offers a wide range of services for managing and recycling residuals, evaluating residuals programs, conducting market studies, and acquiring regulatory permits. This huge commitment to biosolids does not stop her from enjoying gardening and flowers, but you might guess that biosolids samples that come into the office abet her hobby and generally end up in her large garden or flower beds.  She eats the vegetables from her garden yet does not consider herself a “highly exposed individual,” and she is consistently proving that healthy biosolids-amended soils grow exceptional vegetables!  She and her husband (nicknamed poor Ray or Saint Ray) also have two large composters where they compost most yard waste (with a biosolids boost from time to time) and return it to the garden.  Trudy has a daughter and 2 grandsons that also occupy her time.  She runs, hikes, bikes, and lifts weights, which leaves no time for relaxing.  “After all,” she says. ” when I get old, I want to be able to transfer from the wheelchair to the toilet by myself.”

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