City places plan to profit from poop on backburner

By Dave Fidlin


A proposal to profit from processing commercial waste has been put on the backburner in Whitewater.

For years, city officials have tossed around the prospect of using a bio-digester at the wastewater treatment plant that would have the ability to process waste from outside sources, in addition to the waste generating within the municipality.

But questions of how many outside companies would take the city up on its offer have lingered, and the proposal is not expected to surface for at least another decade, based on a discussion at a Common Council meeting May 2.

Fourteen months ago, the city entered into a $10,000 contract with consulting firm Baker Tilly to dig into the feasibility of offering a bio-digester.

“The conclusion reached by Baker Tilly noted that smaller disposal volumes were not attractive to industrial clients and that unknowns made it difficult to have meaningful discussions with interested clients,” Tim Reel, wastewater superintendent, wrote in a memo.

“Brief financial scenarios provided show that a simple payback of five years would be possible, provided interested parties were secured. Ultimately, Baker Tilly did not find this option feasible,” Reel added.

Baker Tilly, in its analysis, acknowledged there were limitations within its scope of study because of parameters within its area of expertise. Another provider, the firm concluded, could conduct a more thorough analysis.

Although every stone was not left unturned, city officials appear satisfied with Baker Tilly’s response for now.

In a discussion with the council at the May 2 meeting, City Manager Cameron Clapper said he believed the issue should be revisited down the road — perhaps in a decade as technology continues to evolve.

Because it lacked the staff expertise to fully study all possible scenarios, Clapper said Baker Tilly refunded the city $4,000 of the $10,000 consulting fee.

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