Jim Nash is proud as poop of his new $32-million maze of pipes and boilers on the outskirts of Pontiac.

Two plans for handling sewage, only one gets state’s OK

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“This is going to revolutionize how sewage is treated,” says Nash, the boss of Oakland County’s drains and sewers. 

Doesn’t excite you? Well, put on your COVID mask — it’ll cut down on odors we’ll encounter — and join a reporter and photographer as we tour a new way of handling everyone’s you-know-what.

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“We’re the first place in Michigan to try it and only the third in the nation,” Nash says on the tour.



a man standing next to a building: Oakland County Water Resource Commissioner Jim Nash, right, and Mike Daniels, plant manager, give a tour of the new Thermal Hydrolysis Processing facility (THP) in Pontiac. The plant transforms human waste into class A fertilizer.


© Mandi Wright, Detroit Free Press
Oakland County Water Resource Commissioner Jim Nash, right, and Mike Daniels, plant manager, give a tour of the new Thermal Hydrolysis Processing facility (THP) in Pontiac. The plant transforms human waste into class A fertilizer.

In tax dollars and energy, this new technology will save a you-know-what load, Nash promises. Plus, it’s good for the environment, turning the mountains of hazardous solids that come from sewage plants, which other plants must truck off to landfills, into a safe and beneficial fertilizer.

Before starting construction, Nash, who is Oakland County’s elected water resources commissioner, had to get state regulators to approve a sewage permit for his new-fangled chemistry set at the Clinton River Water Resource Recovery Facility (formerly the Pontiac Wastewater Treatment Plant).

At a site 30 miles away in Macomb County, the same regulators denied a sewage permit sought by Nash’s counterpart, Macomb County Public Works Director Candice Miller. It was for a sewage project of almost the same cost, around $30 million.

During heavy rains, Miller’s project aimed