The city's municipal workers face off with City Council today on a proposal to privatize the city's sludge plant.

Members of AFSCME Local 394 will try to convince two City Council committees to reject the Water Department's attempt to turn over processing of the waste of 2.1 million people in the region at the Philadelphia Biosolids Recycling Center.

The city plant turns all solid material filtered from the city's wastewater and turns it into sludge that can be used as fertilizer for commercial purposes.

The Water Department says it can save at least $240 million over 23 years in a contract with Synagro, Inc., which would lease the current facility and build a plant that creates dry pellets that weigh less and are easier to dispose of.

Local 394 not only wants to protect 60 union positions at the plant - current workers would still be retained at current salaries by the water department - but employees and union officials say the proposal is just a bad idea, financially and environmentally.

The proposal died in the Finance Committee last year; today the agreement would have to be approved by the Finance Committee, the lease agreement by Public Property. Two public hearings are scheduled.

The success of the idea, which is supported by Mayor Nutter, as it was by his predecessor, Mayor John F. Street, may hinge on Council President Anna C. Verna, whose district encompasses the biosolids facility, located under the Platt Bridge, across I-95 from Philadelphia International Airport.

Contact staff writer Jeff Shields at 215-854-4565 or jshields@phillynews.com.