$100 million deal turning Omaha wastewater into city revenue and fertilizer for farmers

A new project approved by the Omaha City Council aims to improve wastewater processing in the area around the Papio Creek treatment plant in Bellevue.
Published: Feb. 8, 2023 at 6:54 PM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - If you live in Bellevue just west of the Missouri River, you probably have noticed a strong smell. That smell comes from the Papio Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant.

“We take dirty water and remove the pollutants from that dirty water,” said Michael Arends, manager of water resource recovery engineering and remote facilities.

This complicated process will soon expand with the city’s funds. On Tuesday, the city council approved funding a $100 million deal to expand the plant’s digesters and improve the capturing of methane gas.

The digesters process waste that comes into the plant and converts it into a usable fertilizer product. This waste comes from homes, businesses, and other institutions in the area.

“The digestive capacity upgrades will also result in additional gas to treat additional solids which will then will be converted to digastric gas,” Arends said.

In simple terms, the solids processed in the digesters will be used to create fertilizer for farmers.

This is something Arends mentioned they’ve been doing for 40-plus years. He said the gas that is captured will be treated and sent to Black Hills Energy, they are in the process of building a pipeline to connect to the facility.

“The gas itself that we will be capturing and treating then injecting into the pipeline as renewable natural gas,” Arends said. “We project that we’re going to have three to five million dollars of revenue per year.”

David Sykora is the plant’s water resource and recovery manager. He said they’re making sure waste is recycled.

“When you give things more time to work, the organisms have more time they can give you a more stabilized product. That’s what we’re hoping to accomplish,” Sykora said.

The pipeline that will connect to the facility will be completed in 2024 and the expanded digesters will be completed in 2026.