DuPage wins 3rd straight national award for disposal facility

A facility that makes it easier and cheaper for towns to dispose of the soggy debris they remove from storm sewers has earned DuPage County recognition from a national association for the third time in as many years.

The National Association of Counties has honored DuPage for its Vactor Receiving Station in Woodridge. It's the third consecutive year the organization has recognized a DuPage program for being innovative, effective and an enhancement of service for residents.

County board member Jim Healy said he's "elated" for the county employees who came up with the idea for the special disposal station. He said he's also happy for everyone who supported the construction of the roughly $950,000 facility.

"We have always put ourselves out there as someone who thinks out of the box," said Healy, chairman of the county board's public works committee. "If there was ever anything that was thinking outside of the box, it was the station."

To prevent flooding, municipalities regularly use vacuum tanker trucks to clear dead leaves, silt, dirt and other material from storm drains.

Because water is used in the process, the waste that's collected ends up being a mixture of water and solids that landfills won't accept because it's too wet.

So before they can take the waste to a landfill, municipal workers must take the time and effort to dry it out.

To address that problem, DuPage in 2014 opened the special disposal station at its Woodridge Greene Valley Wastewater Treatment Plant along Route 53.

Now vacuum tanker trucks can simply empty their cargo inside the one-story building.

Water drained from the waste flows directly into the plant for treatment. The remaining material is dried and taken by the county to a landfill.

The process is environmentally friendly because the water is cleaned before being discharged into the East Branch of the DuPage River, officials say.

Towns using the facility include Carol Stream, Darien, Lisle, Naperville and Woodridge. County officials are hoping that more will use it in the future.

Towns are charged a fee to make drop-offs. County officials said that costs the municipalities far less than they spent disposing of the watery waste on their own.

"That's just direct costs," Healy said. "That's not even counting the cost of labor that they are saving."

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