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Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

Council introduces algae ordinance


By William Kincaid
CELINA - City council members on Monday night unanimously passed first reading of an ordinance allowing a Marysville company to take algae from the water treatment plant for research and development.
If approved on final reading, safety service director Tom Hitchcock would be authorized to enter into a nearly 15-year agreement - retroactive to April 1 and lasting until Dec. 31, 2027 - with Algaeventure Systems to collect up to 40 percent of the algae procured from the drinking water treatment process. The city's drinking water source is Grand Lake.
The agreement could bring in as much as $25,000 a year and reduce the waste produced during the water treatment process, Celina Mayor Jeff Hazel has said.
The company would pay Celina $100 for every day it collects algae. It would be entitled to take up to a metric ton or 2,204 pounds a day, according to the contract. Payments would be made quarterly.
"If the amount of waste material is greater than 1 metric ton per day, AVS agrees to pay an adjustment in the payment for each kilogram withdrawn in excess of 1 metric ton at a rate of $50 per metric ton," the agreement states.
Algaeventure Systems CEO Ross Youngs has said the company wants to secure access to the material if its research leads to the development of a marketable product.
Councilman June Scott - who pointed out that water plant superintendent Mike Sudman told him the proposal is a good thing for the city - asked if the company will come and collect the material.
"Their equipment is set up in there," Hazel replied, adding that Algaeventure will do a lot of freezing and storing of the algae. "They believe there's value in our waste product - they just don't know what it is (right now)."
Councilwoman Angie King asked if there is a benchmark price established for selling algae.
Hazel said he doesn't think the company is paying anyone else for algae.  
Two types of sludge, organic and chemical, are produced when lake water is treated and transformed into drinking water for the city. The sludges are pumped to the three ponds along U.S. 127, where they remain until cleaned by Mike's Sanitation at a cost of about $60,000 a year.
Hitchcock has said the 15-year agreement length is based on the city's 15-year contract with the state to draw water from the lake. He said the city would still have up to 60 percent of the algae. Also, any commercial processing of algae by the company would likely come with a factory and jobs, which would be valuable to the city.
Algaeventure currently is interested only in the algae removed at the water treatment plant, not algae in the lake, city officials said.
Youngs also has said Algaeventure is spending time and energy researching algae possibilities and wants to ensure access to the material. The company has an office on West Bank Road.
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