Originally created 09/30/03

Tubes could cut waste costs



KINGSLAND, Ga. - Officials in the southeast Georgia city of Kingsland say they have figured out a way to save taxpayers money when it comes to disposing of solid waste. Using a new technology known as geotubes, the city's solid waste is collected in porous tubes, which help evaporate moisture from the waste.

Over time, the dehydrated waste loses as much as two-thirds of its weight, making it much cheaper to haul to the city landfill.

It is the solid waste's weight that costs residents so much money in the first place, said Jimmy White, the superintendent of the city's water and wastewater plant.

It cost the city $59,000 in tipping fees to dump moisture-laden solid waste at the landfill in 2002.

By drying out the waste, those fees should be greatly reduced, said Mr. White, whose department began using the geotubes three months ago.

"It was a hard sell," he said. "I saw demonstrations and learned how to make this work. Now I think it will be a benefit to us."

Geotubes are 90-foot fiber cylinders that lie side-by-side on a slab of concrete at the water treatment plant. Each tube holds up to 170,000 gallons of solid waste and takes three to six months to fill, Mr. White said.

The tubes will then sit for as long as two years as the moisture leeches into drains or evaporates before the dried waste is hauled to the county landfill. By the end, "it should be like dirt," Mr. White said.

The leftover moisture is treated at the water plant. The geotubes are relatively low-tech; each costs about $700.

Until the city began the new program, public works officials estimate the moisture content in solid waste brought to the dump was about 92 percent. The water content in waste removed from the tubes will be no more than 25 percent, and could be lower, depending on how long the city can let the bags sit, said C.J. Leblanc, an assistant public works director.