In Brief / en bref...

  • The final Federal Implementation Plan for the new U. S. EPA air emissions regulations for sewage sludge incinerators (SSI) was published in the Federal Register on Friday, April 29th. This implementation plan provides details on how SSIs must comply with new Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) emission guidelines, Title V permit provisions, and other new standards in states that do not have their own approved implementation plan - including the four New England states that have SSIs.  This is the final formal step in the new SSI air emissions regulations going into effect, formally as of March 21, 2016.
  • Regarding a proposed amended standard in Massachusetts for molybdenum (Mo) in biosolids that are land applied, MassDEP Plans a formal, public comment period from June 3 - July 8, 2016.  A public hearing is likely on June 27, 2016. (Check with DEP or NEBRA to confirm.)  The new limit, applied to all land applied "sludges," will be 40 mg Mo / kg solids on a dry weight basis.
  • Fitchburg, MA is considering reactivating its Westerly wastewater treatment plant for anaerobic digestion of its and others' wastewater solids.  Fitchburg's sewage sludge incinerator has been shut down, and the community is seeking a different long-term solids management solution. Details.
  • NYWEA just published a special biosolids edition of its association magazine Clearwaters.  It includes articles on Rennsalaer County's transition to beneficial use, the WERF study on high quality biosolids, regulation of phosporus, and "How Regional Biosolids Associations Can Help You."   (The last two were co-authored by Ned Beecher of NEBRA).  Congratulations to Bill Toffey of MABA and Jeff LeBlanc, Chair of the NYWEA Biosolids Committee, who championed the special edition.  Read it all.
  • Court case update: Los Angeles et al. vs. Kern County, California... (adapted from CASA):   The Kern County Measure E trial lasted about two weeks and concluded on Friday, May 6th.  For the first time in this decade-long legal battle, a trial was held with facts and expert testimony focused on substantive, technical issues around biosolids management.  Biosolids had their day in court. 

    Measure E was a voter approved initiative in 2006 which would prohibit the land application of biosolids in unincorporated Kern County. It has been legally challenged since passage by Plaintiffs, including the City of Los Angeles, County Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County, Orange County Sanitation District, CASA, Responsible Biosolids Management, and others.  Some land application has been allowed to continue in Kern County since 2006 pursuant to preliminary injunctions blocking Measure E, first at the federal and then the state level. 

    The Plaintiffs contend that Measure E (i) violates the California Integrated Waste Management Act, which law requires jurisdictions to promote and maximize recycling, including land application; (ii) violates the California Constitution's requirement that local laws reasonably accommodate the regional welfare; and (iii) violates federal and state constitutional protections for commerce by excluding out-of-county biosolids from Kern County. 

    The trial largely focused on whether Kern County had a public health and environmental rationale to support banning land application of biosolids, which relates to the constitutional claims in the case. 

    The trial was held in Tulare County court as a bench trial (no jury) before the Honorable Lloyd Hicks. Witnesses for the Plaintiffs described how Class A EQ biosolids are generated and testified to the additional costs for biosolids management caused by Measure E.  Farmer and Plaintiff Rob Fanucchi explained how biosolids benefited the soil and crops at Green Acres Farm, a 4,700 acre farm that has recycled biosolids for 22 years.  He also described how the Farm uses City of Bakersfield treated effluent for irrigation and that Green Acres consistently produces high crop yields of various feed crops that are purchased by local dairies. Much of the case centered on expert testimony, which, for the Plaintiffs, included Greg Kester of CASA; Professor Ian Pepper, Ph.D., of the University of Arizona; Dr. Robert Scofield, Ph.D., an expert in risk assessment; and Tom Johnson, a geologist and hydrogeologist.  Dr. Chris Higgins from the Colorado School of Mines and Dr. Gwynn Johnson from Portland State testified for Kern County, as well as two hydrogeologists. 

    A decision from Judge Hicks is expected in the fall of 2016. 

    Read Plaintiffs' pretrial brief and some local media coverage here and also here.
  • WERF and WateReuse Research Foundation have merged into the Water Environment & Reuse Foundation (WE&RF). WERF had done much research on biosolids, and that will continue, of course, with many of the same research project managers as before (Amit Pramanik, Lauren Fillmore, Lola Olabode, etc.).
  • VT DEC has a new website, with a crisp new look.  And, like the rest of the site, the Residuals Management pages are informative and easy to navigate.  The link to "Educational Resources" allows for dowloand of the January 2016 report to the Legislature regarding biosolids management and the "White Paper" - both good reads.  

  • Water quality continues to be in the spotlight in the Green Mountain State.  The Legislature just passed H. 674, which requires quick reporting (electronically within 1 hour of discovery) of an untreated discharge of wastewater.  Such discharges might be from combined sewer overflows (CSOs), upsets, bypasses, of pipe breaks.  See the VT DEC for postings and more information about the new law.
  • Philadelphia is requiring in-sink disposers in new residential buildings as a way of managing food scraps and diverting them from the solid waste stream and landfills.  Philadelphia wastewater is anaerobicly digested and the resulting methane is utilized for energy, so the food scraps will provide value (this may not be the case in other communities).  See the news release.