By: Tara Blue
On Jan. 16, 2024, the Ashland Board of Aldermen unanimously approved the purchase of a dump trailer to enable the sanitary sewer division to haul biosolids from the city’s wastewater treatment facility (WWTF) to the Columbia landfill for disposal. Biosolids are a sewage byproduct that has undergone treatment to reduce pathogens (

Ashland Public Works Director James Creel says that Ashland currently outsources this process, as it pays Republic Services to pick up the biosolids from the WWTF and dispose of it at their landfill in Jefferson City.

Creel estimates the city will save $3,000-5,000 per month by disposing of the biosolids using the dump trailer. The city’s sanitary sewer division can transport the waste to the Columbia landfill at a lower cost than what the city currently pays Republic.

Creel says the dump trailer was a budgeted item in the FY24 budget for $15,000 but that the total trailer price came to $19,188 plus additional shipping costs of $2,000 per the lowest bid. Creel attributes the higher cost to inflation of labor and material costs.

A Step Towards Sustainability

Furthermore, Creel says the city has also applied for a wastewater discharge permit renewal through the Department of Natural Resources that will allow Ashland to begin biosolid land applications.

This process involves safely and properly processing the biosolids according to regulation standards, then spreading them over soil surfaces or injecting them into the soil to add nutrients such as potassium, nitrogen, and phosphorus. Biosolid land application improves soil structure and is commonly used in agriculture, forestry, reclamation sites, lawns, and home gardens as an alternative to synthetic fertilizers.

Creel says the land application program will be implemented this year and the trailer will be used to transport biosolids to approved farm fields. Biosolid land application is already used in several nearby cities, including Columbia, Jefferson City, Ozark, and Springfield.