GENEVA — There could be thousands of new workers at the city’s transfer station on Doran Avenue in the future.
But they won’t be people — they’ll be worms.
The city is working with Seneca-based Organix Green Industries to create a vermiculture center at the transfer station.
Organix operates a vermiculture center on County Road 4 in Seneca.
Vermiculture is the use of worms to process organic material.
“The idea is to divert food waste from the landfill,” City Manager Matt Horn said on Monday. “Organic material is responsible for a lot of the odor issues associated with landfills. The worms in the process work through the food waste and generate a high quality soil amendment (fertilizer) for agriculture.”
The goal, said Horn, is to “re-work our current transfer station to set up trenches for vermiculture.”
Last week, City Council approved a resolution to apply for a state grant to help fund the conversion of the transfer station into what is being called the Marsh Creek Resource Recovery Park, which is adjacent to city’s sewage-treatment plant.
“I’m really glad to see this,” said Ward 4 Councilor Ken Camera, City Council’s liaison to the Geneva Green Committee.
Camera is a longtime advocate of reducing the amount of waste heading to the region’s two landfills, Seneca Meadows in Seneca Falls and the Ontario County Landfill in the town of Seneca.
“I think it’s a great program,” added At-Large Councilor Gordy Eddington, who operates a similar vermiculture business.
Customers for the vermiculture operation should not be hard to find, Horn said.
“Our initial targets are those institutional users who are already diverting their food waste,” he said.
The city manager said Hobart and William Smith Colleges, which are currently shipping their food waste to Cayuga Compost in Trumansburg, are the “prime candidate.”
Horn said the city also is looking at other institutional users such as the hospital and school district.
He said a residential drop-off is another goal in the first phase of the project.
The city is applying for a $200,000 state Climate Smart Communities grant to help fund the project. The program encourages communities to become more environmentally sustainable.
It’s expected the site could process up to 500 tons of food waste a year. That’s waste now heading to landfills.
Decomposing food waste produces methane gas, which environmentalists say is a major contributor to global warming. The Northeast Environmental Center says methane is 23 times more effective at trapping heat in the atmosphere than the most prevalent greenhouse gas — carbon dioxide.
While the city is looking to convert food waste into fertilizer, it also is proposing to make its sewage sludge available as a compost-based mulch for landscapers, nurseries and developers.
The city is proposing to modify the sludge treatment facilities at the Marsh Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant to produce up to 280 dry metric tons of biosolids a year. It is awaiting final approval from the state Department of Environmental Conservation.