Waste not is the idea behind a new strategy for wastewater here in Yakima.

Our News Partner KIMA Action News has learned the city of Yakima found a way to turn your waste into a money maker. "It starts in people's homes, businesses, schools. And, we have a collection of pipes, pumps, stations to get it to this facility," said Utility Project Manager Dean Smith.

New machines are being installed to meet stricter regulations from the Department of Ecology, that will limit the amount of nutrients in treated water allowed to flow into rivers. Before treated water makes it back to the Yakima River, sewage goes through a six-step cleaning process.

"Rags, popsicle sticks...look there's a cheerio right there," adds Smith.

Steps in the process include filtering, stirring and baking water before it's considered treated.
Solids are pumped into a building to remove more water and what's left is a dirt-like substance that's loaded and shipped to a farm in the Lower Valley.

"The new process will take the water that comes out of the sludge and take out another part, which is the struvite," said Smith.

The struvite is key because it's rich in phosphorous.

Equipment will extract it for the city to recycle on the open market.

The final product will be similar in size to these small gravel or BB gun ammunition.

Engineers say the small pellets will be sold for fertilizer and the money made from will help offset operations at the wastewater plant.

"It's a beneficial product that we can use for agriculture, which is what this community is all about," said Smith.

The city also says it will keep wastewater rates in check. Design and installation of the technology carries a million-dollar price tag, an investment the city says is worth the money.

Yakima's wastewater fees are paying for the project. Installation is expected to finish in a few weeks.