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

SPOTLIGHT on Biosolids YP (Young Professionals)

This SPOTLIGHT is a special treat for us all as it celebrates the young talent in our environmental realm. What is more, we are able to call out several special opportunities.  1. Join the YP Committee, by notifying [email protected] to be added to the list and putting Tuesday, May 18th at 10 am. on your calendar for the next YP meeting.  2. Speak at our July Symposium, as the Programming Committee is reserving a slot during the July Virtual Biosolids Symposium for a YP presentation; so while the official deadline from proposals is passed, send yours by the end of this week to Howard Matteson, [email protected]. 3. Be the MABA Social Media Guru, as the Communications Committee is in need of a social media savvy young person to help MABA better engage through its Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube pages; contact [email protected]  with your ideas. 

Carolyn Christy 

Carolyn Christy

Carolyn Christy, RDP Technologies, ([email protected], 610-574-3037). Carolyn has a degree in environmental earth sciences with a minor in soil science and a minor in agricultural business from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. She has been working for RDP Technologies for over 5 years doing sales support and marketing. RDP is a family-owned manufacturing company that specializes in lime chemical feed equipment. Carolyn says, “I am passionate about creating a quality biosolids end product for regenerative agriculture. I have given a number of papers on this subject. I am also starting the YP subcommittee for MABA and am looking for more people to get involved.” If you are in the YP category, consider attending the next MABA YP Committee meeting! Carolyn enjoys being outside doing recreational sports. Her favorites are hiking, running, swimming, skiing, and road biking.  The picture shows Carolyn hiking Zion national park in the fall of 2019. 

DJ Wacker          

DJ WackerDJ Wacker, Project Engineer, RK&K (410-462-9192, [email protected]). DJ’s introduction into the world of biosolids started about 10 years ago as an intern at RK&K. He was tasked with collecting and lugging several 5-gallon samples of undigested sludge out of the lower level of a pumping station in the 95-degree summer heat. Somehow that did not deter him from biosolids, in fact, he went on to design that plant’s dewatering facility. DJ reports, “I ended up doing my master’s thesis on anaerobic digestion and never looked back.”  DJ loves seeing projects from conception all the way through commissioning and has had the opportunity to work on a wide range of biosolids projects from thickening and anaerobic digestion to thermal drying, digester gas utilization, and RNG. He also loves innovation in technology and helping clients find the right process that suits their needs and goals. DJ is now carrying his biosolids enthusiasm out into the wider world; check out his recent blog by clicking HERE. When not working in the world of biosolids or wastewater, DJ typically looks for his next destination to travel to and/or thrill-seeking adventure. You can see that in this picture of DJ running with the bulls in Spain.

  Emma Yates 

Emma YatesEmma Yates, Sales Rep, WeCare Denali – Hilburn, NY (845-521-6568, [email protected]). Emma has served as a Business Development Representative for WeCare Denali for the past four years. In this position, she is responsible to sell and market WeCare Compost®. Emma graduated from Allegheny College where she majored in Environmental Science. While she tried to avoid taking any classes related to soil, Emma ended up in a class where they were tasked to increase their school's carbon sequestration through composting. She became smitten with compost and found her home at WeCare Denali where she could create a large-scale impact in the industry and work on an incredible team of composting experts. Marketing biosolids and green waste compost in the tri-state area is a dynamic operation that has provided her with countless connections, learning opportunities, challenges, and enjoyment. Emma currently resides in Jersey City, NJ, and spends her free time practicing yoga, hiking, or exploring the area’s food scene. 

 Garrett Benisch     

Garrett BenischGarrett Benisch, Director of Design Development, Bioforcetech ([email protected], (973) 985-4265). From a young age, Garrett has been fascinated by materials. He says, “As my mother would work on custom centerpieces for parties in our backyard, I would be completely content ‘painting’ water on the railings of our wooden deck just to watch it change color, absorb the water, and then dry out again.”  Still today, Garrett walks through a park or cuts vegetables while cooking, intrigued by how materials change and transform as people interact with them.  He completed his Master's thesis in Industrial Design, Sum Waste, which envisioned turning biosolids into clean valuable resources that society could interact with directly. Shortly after graduating, he met Valentino Villa at the MABA Summer Symposium, and soon after joined the Bioforcetech team to research and develop what he now calls OurCarbon.™  The new job took him from Brooklyn to San Francisco in the midst of a world-changing pandemic, spending time on the phone with testing labs, manufacturers, and Instagram influencers alike.  When not tinkering with OurCarbon™ in the office, Garrett can be found at Ocean Beach with his dog, Hoya, or catching waves in the surf, with very little grace and a really big smile.


Kelli Timbrook

Kelli TimbrookKelli Timbrook, Facilities Manager, Casella Resource Solutions (518-631-3763, [email protected]). As a lifelong environmentalist, Kelli got her start in traditional recycling helping to build municipal and K-12 recycling programs. She then transferred those waste diversion skills into beneficial use of residual organics, always with the same goal of reuse, diverting as much material as possible from the landfill. In her seven years with Casella, she has contributed to the diversion of over 10,000 tons of organic materials, such as biosolids, paper mill residuals, and food scraps. In addition to her work with Casella, Kelli is a Board member of the New York State Association of Reduction, Reuse and Recycling (NYSAR3) since 2012, serving two terms as President from 2016-2020, and Vice Chairperson of the Federation of Solid Waste Association of NY.  When she is not hanging out at compost facilities or WWTPs, Kelli is busy dragging her two kids and husband around both local trails and the Adirondacks (she aspires to be a 46er, climbing all 46 peaks in the Adirondacks) while commenting on the soil and crop health of all the farm fields they pass along the way. 


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].




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