Alton, IL may further study income-generating resource recovery facility

By Linda N. Weller, Alton Telegraph.

ALTON — The city may authorize a more thorough study into potential costs, revenues and risks of building a bio-solid, resource recovery facility, pending aldermanic approval.

Mayor Brant Walker said he expected the City Council to refer the resolution allowing the Phase II survey and related work to committee Wednesday night. The Committee of the Whole meets next on July 10.

This more in-depth phase would involve consultants from EcoEngineers of Des Moines, Iowa preparing a preliminary design of the facility — modules that could be increased in number over the years if waste supplies increase — finalize size, cost and utility, and procure feedstock (waste) sources. If the city progresses with the plan, the facility would be built on the wastewater treatment plant property, 19 Chessen Lane.

Some city officials say they are interested in learning more about feasibility of building and operating a resource recovery facility (RRF) in order to develop a new revenue source for the city, which has lost industry and population — and therefore taxes — over the past few decades. Revenues from Argosy Casino also have dropped dramatically that bolstered Alton’s General Fund.

At the April 12 City Council meeting, senior engineer Brad Pleima and chief executive officer Shashi Menon, of EcoEngineers described how a bio-solid RRF operates, turning sewage, food waste from restaurants and grocery stores and other, commercial high-strength wastes into dewatered solids for fertilizer — for sale and for environmental credits — plus ammonia sulfate struvite, and renewable natural gas, with the latter blended into bio-fuels. Alton would sell the gas and also receive environmental attributes credits simply for its production.