Straw for new utilities research project coming from Churchill Downs

Columbus City Utilities won’t be horsing around with a planned study of the effects of straw and corn stalks on the biosolids left over from the city’s wastewater treatment plant.

Because the used straw for the research project is coming to Columbus from Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky, home to some of the most competitive thoroughbreds in the country and the Kentucky Derby.

The straw is changes at Churchill Downs daily, and will be transported by dump truck to a concrete pad in the vicinity of County Roads 850S and 400W.

Biosolids, which is the sludge left over from the wastewater treatment plant, will also be stockpiled there as part of the year-long experiment, said Randy Duckworth, manager of Columbus wastewater operations.

Different ratios of straw and corn stalk — the carbon source — will be mixed with five to six different piles of biosolid, which contains nitrogen, to reduce the odor of the biosolid.

The goal of the project is to reduce the city’s disposal cost of biosolids by using the least amount of carbon possible, which comes from the straw and cornstalks, Duckworth said. Biosolids are commonly used by farmers as fertilizer.

“It’s the most basic form of recycling,” he said.

For more on this story, see Tuesday’s Republic.