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Hutchinson, Minnesota

2005 ACEC Minnesota Best of State Award and National Finalist

Donohue & Associates and the City of Hutchinson received a Best of State Award in the 2005 ACEC Wisconsin Engineering Excellence competition. The project recognized the design of the Biosolids Drying Facility at the Hutchinson, Minnesota, wastewater treatment facility. The project was also a finalist in the national ACEC Engineering Excellence competition.

The new biosolids facilities use heat drying to convert wastewater solids into a nutrient-rich organic material that is then pressed into clean, non-odorous fertilizer pellets for use by golf courses and nurseries. One complex aspect of the project was the integration of the highly mechanized pelletizing operation, typically used for grain feed and other applications, into the biosolids process. Hutchinson’s facility is the only known wastewater facility in the Upper Midwest to produce a pellet product.

In the past, drying facilities have not been considered feasible for smaller communities. This project has shown that a mid-size community can implement cost-effective biosolids drying facilities and produce a reusable end product that benefits the environment. "Not only does this project demonstrate an innovative use of existing palletizing equipment, it also enables small facilities to get into this type of project," said Engineering Excellence Judge Gerry Novotny.