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Climate-Friendly Sludge Treatment to Replace Aging Incinerator

Climate-Friendly Sludge Treatment to Replace Aging Incinerator

The City of Palo Alto’s Regional Water Quality Control Plant (RWQCP) is ushering in more environmentally-friendly technologies to handle sewage sludge using a new dewatering process instead of energy-intensive incineration. The City is hosting a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the recently-completed Sludge Dewatering and Truck Loadout Facility at 2501 Embarcadero Way on Wednesday, June 5 at 10 a.m. Mayor Eric Filseth will permanently turn off the sewage sludge incinerators during the ceremony. The public is encouraged to attend and learn more about the new process and wastewater treatment.

The updated treatment process will reduce climate-warming greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 15,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent per year– this approximates the carbon dioxide emissions of 3,000 passenger cars. The replacement technologies dewater the sludge and send it to farming areas to produce agricultural soil supplements.

“Eliminating incineration is another step towards Palo Alto’s goal of reducing greenhouse gasses by 80% by 2030,” said Phil Bobel, Public Works Department Assistant Director. “The process also eliminates 700 tons of incinerator ash; a hazardous waste. This is an 85% reduction of hazardous waste from City-owned facilities.”  

Completion of the Sludge Dewatering and Truck Loadout Facility is one of several RWQCP capital improvement projects slated for the near future to replace aging infrastructure, modernize operations, and create a resource recovery facility. 

The sludge dewatering project was funded by a low-interest California State Water Resources Control Board loan to be repaid by the six RWQCP partner agencies. Additional information about the RWQCP is available at

There will be an opportunity for the press to tour the new facility at 9 a.m. Tours for the public will follow the event.

Last Updated: May 15, 2019