In Brief / en bref...  June 2016

  • Managing Phosphorus (P) in Organic Residuals Applied to Soils - UMass Extension will hold a symposium on November 2, 2016 in Marlborough, MA to help increase understanding of how best to manage P in biosolids and other residuals.  NEBRA has helped develop this program and will be presenting.  Save the date! 
  • In December, an independent commission released its report on planning for recycling in the greater Montreal, QC area.  Biosolids are included in the plan:  "Issue 6: Sludge...  the City of Montreal clearly announces its intention to conduct a techno-economic study in the next five years for the replacement of incinerators at its wastewater treatment plant in view of the ban on disposal of organic matter, which is scheduled to take effect in 2020....  Recommendation 23: municipalities in the Community should aim primarily to route all their sludge to an organic recovery option."
  • The Region of Waterloo, ON, is going through a thorough and careful public consultation process on biosolids management, trying to avoid the kind of public upset that occurred several years ago when a biosoilds facility was proposed and rejected by upset citizens.  The public consultation, scheduled to take until 2018, is budgeted at Can $450,000 and will include 7 public meetings in each of the three major communities: Cambridge, Kitchener, and Waterloo, according to the local Record.
  • In early June, EPA banned fracking wastewater from disposal at water resource recovery facilities (WRRFs). In practice, fracking wastewater has not been entering WRRFs in some states (e.g. Pennsylvania) for many years, because of concerns about their undisclosed pollutants.  According to an EPA fact sheet, protection of biosolids quality is one of the rationale:   "Wastewater from UOG [unconventional oil & gas] extraction can contain high concentrations of dissolved solids (or salts), as well as pollutants such as radioactive elements, metals, chlorides, sulfates, and other dissolved inorganic constituents that POTWs are not designed to remove. Because they are not typical of POTW influent wastewater, some UOG extraction wastewater constituents can be discharged, untreated, from the POTW to the receiving water; can disrupt the operation of the POTW (e.g., by inhibiting biological treatment); can accumulate in biosolids (sewage sludge), limiting their use; and can facilitate the formation of harmful DBPs [disinfection by-products]."  The new regulation goes into effect 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.
  • Ebola-infected wastewater should be pretreated at hospitals, according to new research-based guidelines developed by leading microbiologists and reported by the California Association of Sanitation Agencies (CASA).  There has not been a case of Ebola in the U. S. since October 2014, and further cases are not likely. However, awareness and preparation are helpful, and CASA has been instrumental in advancing understanding.   See the CASA memo and associated research summary.
  • Dr. Rufus Chaney, a senior research agronomist and noted figure in the world of biosolids, is retiring after 47 years with the USDA.  Dr. Chaney has published hundreds of research papers on all aspects of biosolids and the fate and transport of constituents in them. He was instrumental in the scientific peer review process undertaken by the expert W-170 research group, which brought significant change to the final federal biosolids regulations in 40 CFR part 503. He also conducted extensive research to quantify the benefits of biosolids and biosolids compost in the reclamation of superfund mine sites, contaminated urban brownfields, and other reclamation projects. The research conducted by Dr. Chaney stands as the seminal credible work adhering to the strictest of scientific principles and as the foundation in support of biosolids land application. We wish Rufus all the best in retirement and offer sincere gratitude for his lifetime of work on biosolids. (Thanks to Greg Kester, CASA, for this write-up.)