Where can I get City of Appleton biosolids compost?
The Appleton Wastewater Treatment Plant (AWWTP) is coordinating pick-up locations with other departments within the City. Please contact us for pick-up times and availability.
This page will be updated regularly with pick-up information as locations, dates, and times are confirmed.
What is the best way to use your compost?
Compost applications are dependent upon the specific use or application. However, there are proven guidelines that have been developed over the years by compost industry experts. The City suggests referring to the USCC Compost Use Guide. If you have specific questions, please contact us.
Do you perform any sampling or analysis on your compost?
The City is a member of the United States Composting Council (USCC) Seal of Testing Assurance (STA) program. Members of this program are required to perform and submit analysis quarterly to ensure that their compost meets the highest quality standards. STA requires monitoring for pathogens, metals, pH, plant vigor and germination, etc. The City's compost meets Exceptional Quality-Class A Biosolids Compost per Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) code and requires analysis to maintain Class A designation. In addition to USCC and WDNR analysis, the City performs biological assays to evaluate beneficial microbial activity which is important in improving soil quality and plant response. The City contracted with the University of Wisconsin - Oshkosh in 2012 to perform analysis to evaluate our products use as a soil amendment and erosion control practice in addition to analyzing for environmental impacts. That report will soon be included on the "Compost Research" section of the City's webpage.
Can I use biosolids compost in my garden?
Yes. The City's compost can be used anywhere you would utilize any other organically-derived soil amendment. The compost contains the three primary nutrients (N-nitrogen, P-phosphorous, and K-potassium) essential for healthy plants along with other macro and micro-nutrients. Nutrients contained within the compost are slow-releasing which is beneficial for long-term soil productivity while reducing nutrient loading to local waters. Compost incorporated in the soil also improves soil moisture carrying capacity.
Are there pathogens in biosolids compost?
The biosolids utilized in our compost are treated via anaerobic digestion at 95° F for approximately 35 days. During this process, most pathogenic organisms found in wastewater are destroyed. The composting process provides additional heat treatment of greater than 130° F >15 days (average is 30+ days) to kill the remaining pathogens and destroy weed seeds while preserving naturally occurring bacteria that are beneficial to soil and plants.
Are there toxic metals in biosolids?
Industries are required to remove toxic metals from the wastewater prior to discharging wastewater into sanitary sewers (see Pretreatment Program). Since the adoption of the Pretreatment Program in the early 1980's industries within the City of Appleton have stepped up to meet regulatory compliance requirements. Furthermore, outreach, education, and awareness efforts have advanced the commitment by industry, commercial, and residential users to seek out environmentally responsible or friendly alternatives to "hazardous" or "toxic" products whenever possible. This commitment has translated into a biosolids product that consistently meets state and federal standards for metals concentrations.
It is important to remember that not all metals are "toxic" or "hazardous". Toxic elements found in the environment like arsenic, cadmium, mercury, and lead are generally the result of undesirable or unintentional anthropogenic activities (e.g. mining, coal burning, combustion engines, and dumping). When found in excessive quantities or elevated concentrations these elements are unsafe to human or environmental health. However, others like copper, iron, manganese, and zinc are naturally occurring elements found in the environment and necessary for the growth of plants, animals, and humans. These elements are unsafe in large quantities, and the City's biosolids concentrations are well below those concentrations.
What are biosolids?
Biosolids are the nutrient rich organic product of treating wastewater from domestic and industrial sources. The organic portion of wastewater is sent to anaerobic digesters where bacteria consume the material at a temperature of 95° F for approximately 35 days. Digestion converts raw organic solids into methane and carbon dioxide gas, while destroying pathogenic organisms. At the end of the biological process, excess water is removed from belt filter presses, and a soil like material rich in nutrients is the remaining product.