Welcome to the City of Port Townsend

Compost Facility

Basic History
The city of Port Townsend’s compost facility is located on leased land from Jefferson County at 603 County Landfill Road. The facility went on line in 1993 after upgrading the Port Townsend’s wastewater treatment facility. Finished product from the compost facility conforms to or exceeds all standards of 40 CFR Part 503, WAC 173-350-220 and WAC 173-308 as a Class “A” compost. It contains nitrogen and phosphorus-essential nutrients for healthy plant growth.

Defined
Compost is a combination of plants and other organic materials that are aerobically decomposed. The mixing and processing of these materials provides a dark rich soil that is commonly used as a soil conditioner which is safe for lawns and all gardens including vegetable gardens.

Process
The compost facility utilizes three types of recyclable waste in producing compost. The waste streams include yard debris (feed stock), biosolids from Port Townsend’s wastewater treatment facility, and biosolids from septic systems of Jefferson County. The entire conversion process of changing yard debris and biosolids into a safe and useable product takes about six months. The steps are listed below and are also shown in the process flow diagram.

Compost Facility

  • Yard debris is collected, shredded into small pieces, and stored at the Jefferson County Transfer Station site.
  • The shredded yard debris is mixed with biosolids from the wastewater treatment facilities. These materials are blended to a recipe of three parts ground yard debris to one part biosolids.
  • Blended compost is placed under a roof in aerated static piles. Air forced through the piles generates heat greater than 131°F for three days followed by fourteen days of 114 °F or higher. The process heat kills pathogenic bacteria. Any odorous air is removed by use of a bio-filter.
  • Compost is moved into static piles for curing and drying where microbial activity decreases. During the curing process compost is stabilized as microorganisms metabolize the remaining biosolids/yard debris mixture.
  • During the screening process large pieces of shredded yard debris (screenings) are removed and returned to compost mixing. The finer screened material remains in the compost product.
  • Each pile of finished product (about 700 cubic yards) is sampled from three different areas in each compost pile. These samples are sent to a state certified lab for analytical testing.
  • Class "A" Exceptional Quality Compost becomes available for sale to the public when it demonstrates compliance with all federal and state standards.

Compost Availability
Compost is sold to the public year round but there are times that we may run out. The City places notices of compost sale event in two different postings. One is in the local newspaper, The Port Townsend Leader and the second is the City website, www.cityofpt.us. Postings are at least two weeks in advance of sales. To learn more about the City’s compost facility, read the brochure: Port Townsend’s Wastewater Treatment and Biosolids Composting Program and other compost handouts. They are available at the wastewater treatment facility located at 5300 Kuhn Street. The price is $12.00 per cubic yard for nine or fewer cubic yards. Purchases of 10 cubic yards or greater, at each loading are $9.00 per cubic yard.

What is Yard Debris
Yard debris includes items such as Christmas trees, grass clippings, weeds, leaves, shrubs, tree trimmings, tree branches less than 8 feet long and under 10 inches in diameter. Non acceptable items include dirt, sod, garbage, kitchen (food) scraps, food waste, plastic bags, rocks, gravel, stumps, and demolition lumber.

Compost Makes Healthier Soils
By improving the holding capacity of sandy soils, compost can lessen water use and improve plant vigor. Mixed into clay soils, it can improve soil texture. Compost also encourages soil microorganisms, whose activities help make nutrients available to plants. As a food source for earthworms, it promotes the activities of these beneficial garden invertebrates.

Compost Facility Phone Number
The facility phone number is (360) 385-7908. Personnel at the facility work outside and are not usually near the phone. Leave a message and they will return your call.

When is compost for sale?
The City usually has compost available for sale year round, although there may be times that we run out. Please watch the newspaper for notification of an upcoming sale.

Is the compost safe to use in my garden?
Yes. The compost produced at the City’s Compost Facility meets the EPA 503 and Washington State DOE 173-308 and 173-350 standards for exceptional quality class A compost. This designation allows the compost materials to be used in your vegetable and flower gardens, lawns, etc.

A User's Guide to Compost