Upgrading Biosolids Management in Chicago

The challenge

Long-term agreement with Veolia North America nets the Windy City huge savings and leading-edge technology for biosolids drying/pelletizing facility.
Chicago needed to build a biosolids management facility in a densely populated area of 2.4 million people, maintain a small footprint and save money. In 2001, the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRDGC) wanted to diversify its biosolids program and engaged Veolia in a 20-year design/build/finance/own/operate/manage and maintain (O&M) contract for a new state-of-the-art biosolids recycling facility.

The project challenges are:

  • The 150-dry-ton-per-day facility at the Stickney Wastewater Treatment Plant — one of the world's largest wastewater facilities with a treatment capacity of 1.4 billion gallons per day — features an environmentally friendly process for drying solids material left over from the wastewater treatment process and turning it into a product that can be recycled and sold as a natural fertilizer.

The solution

Innovative solutions:

  • Employ indirect drying technology — much like a clothes dryer — to convert biosolids into organic fertilizer pellets and soil conditioner sold to a number of industries.
  • Use four SEGHO-dryer pelletizer trains to process the biosolids — approximately 50,000 tons of EQ (exceptional quality) Class A pelletized biosolids.
  • Develop one of the world's most advanced biosolids recycling facilities, featuring advances in thermal technology and state-of-the-art controls to prevent the release of odors.
  • Locate the biosolids facility near the center of the Stickney treatment plant site in a very small area to minimize the footprint.

Benefits for our clients


  • Upgraded biosolids management for the District, improved on open-air biosolids disposal methods and created new biosolids products with broad commercial appeal.
  • Expected to save the client, MWRDGC, $30 million over the life of the contract.
  • Operates as a good neighbor in the local community, controlling odors and protecting the environment, with recycled biosolids deemed safe by U.S., EPA
  • ​Delivers environmentally conscious means of recycling a waste material into a beneficial use product.

Learn more about our solutions:

Water Solutions
Waste Solutions
Energy Solutions