Septage haulers will pay more to dispose of waste at Saline’s wastewater treatment plant.
Rates are increasing from 6.5 cents a gallon to 8 cents a gallon. Saline City Council voted 7-0 to approve the recommendation made by Bob Scull, Superintendent of the city’s water plant and wastewater treatment plant.
Scull said the city was simply passing along a 22 percent increase in the cost of disposing of the remaining bio solids.
Saline is one of two Washtenaw County communities that process septage. Ypsilanti does too. Ypsilanti charges 7 cents a gallon.
Scull wasn’t worried that increasing the price would scare away customers. He the rate change was supposed to be in the most recent fee book changes, so he’d already been charging the higher price. When the city reopened its septage processor a couple weeks ago, business was strong.
“We’ve made $9,000 since we turned it on a couple weeks ago,” Scull said.
Councillor Janet Dillon asked if it might be wise to charge even more, if customers were willing to pay.
Mayor Marl noted that processing septage is a cash cow for the city. According to a 2016 story by Bob Conradi, the city generates between $35,000 and more than $200,000 annually from processing septage.
Councillor Dean Girbach asked if the city had received any odor complaints since it commenced the practice. Scull said he’d not heard of any.
Councillor Linda TerHaar said she spoke with a resident who lives near the plant who said they could tell septage processing had begun again.
For more than 25 years the city has been processing hauled-in septage along with its own sewage. Because of a growing problem with odors emanating from the wastewater treatment plant, some residents questioned whether the practice might be causing the foul odor. But city officials noted that the odor problem persisted while the city halted septage processing during the wastewater treatment plant renovation.