Going Green: Oswego County Landfill
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Leachate, the wastewater from the Oswego County Landfill, contains too much ammonia to be sent directly to the county's wastewater treatment plant so the landfill operators were looking at a $500,000 solution.
"We were looking at all various systems from mechanical, electrical, removal of ammonia, all which are very expensive. And we were ready to proceed with a constructive wetland which would probably be in a half million dollar range," said Frank Visser, Oswego County Director of Solid Waste.
The constructed wetland would use bacteria to reduce the ammonia level, but instead of a wetland they are trying something different.
"The challenge is to reduce the concentration of ammonia in the leachate. We built a column, like a home for the bacteria, high surface area with a reservoir at the bottom. We use this to culture the bacteria from the natural wetland and circulate the water through it," said Dr. David Johnson, of SUNY-ESF. "What happens in this case, is the ammonia is in its reduced form, just the way carbon is in its reduced form in methane. When it gets oxidized you get energy from it, and this is what the actual bacteria is living off of. The energy comes from that oxidation."
The ammonia gets oxidized to nitrates, so the concentration of ammonia decreases and the effluent is now ready for the wastewater treatment plant. According to Dr. Johnson, people from New York and from other states are very interested because the results have been very good.
"If this system works, we hope to build a reactor to take care of the ammonia, probably in the range of $150,000 to $200,000, which would be a lot less that what a constructed wetland would cost," said Visser.