In Brief / en bref...

  • More 2015 Legislation:   This year, several state legislatures have considered bills that would allow local towns or counties to regulate or restrict biosolids use; these bills all seem destined for defeat because of response from farmers and others using biosolids, as well as wastewater treatment facilities emphasizing the importance of recycling biosolids.  More details available from the NEBRA office.
  • U. S. EPA has published the final report on its 2011 biennial review of "information to evaluate potential harm to human health or the environment from use or disposal of sewage sludge, also called biosolids."  A new fact sheet on this review is also available.  These ongoing reviews are intended to figure out if there is any new information indicating toxic levels of any contaminant in biosolids. "At this time, EPA has not identified additional toxic pollutants in biosolids for regulation under Clean Water Act section 405(d)(2)(C)."  Note that an Appendix of the full report includes >60 recent published biosolids literature citations with abstracts.
  • Gold in them thar... sludge...  The media interest in recent research on valuable metals in wastewater solids has continued, spurred by presentations at the American Chemical Society annual meeting in Denver in late March.  Teams led by Kathleen Smith (USGS) and Paul Westerhoff (Arizona State Univ.) are identifying quantities of metals in biosolids and estimating their theoretical value.  But, as this ACS coverage notes, the scientists are also clarifying that cost-effective methods for extracting these metals require further exploration.  Bill Toffey of the Mid-Atlantic Biosolids Association (MABA) discusses some of the implications.
  • And there are drugs too...  And to keep drugs out of the environment, take-back programs have been blossoming around the country.  Now, San Francisco has become one of the first to create an extended producer responsibility (EPR) ordinance that requires pharmaceutical companies to set up and fund take-back programs that make it easy and free for the public to return un-needed pharmaceuticals   See PSI's argument for why EPR is the best solution for keeping drugs out of the environment.
  • Demonstrated Energy Neutrality Leadership is the focus of a new publication from WERF that provides case studies of five water resource recovery facilities that have pushed the envelope of energy management and production: Philadelphia's northeast plant, Los Angeles County Sanitation District's joint plant, Melbourne Water's western plant, Johson County (KS) Smith Middle Basin plant, and the Ithaca Area facility.  NEBRA was a co-author.
  • "Maximize the use of anaerobic digestion capacity at NYC DEP's wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs).  Organic waste can be co-digested with sewage sludge," says the New York League of Conservation Voters in a spring 2015 educational booklet on managing New York City's organic residuals.  It's nice to see this leading environmental group recognize the important role played by WWTPs.