NEBRA Responds to Proposed MA Fertilizer Regulations
The NEBRA Regulatory & Legislative Committee and NEBRA Board responded quickly in late March to draft fertilizer regulations proposed by the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MADAR).
The NEBRA Regulatory & Legislative Committee and NEBRA Board responded quickly in late March to draft fertilizer regulations proposed by the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MADAR). NEBRA joined the MA Farm Bureau and many others in criticizing the proposed regulations. “Our members are heavily involved in helping the Commonwealth and MassDEP advance its goals of diverting organics from landfills and incineration and helping move our communities toward sustainability,” wrote NEBRA. “The proposed regulations would have a chilling effect on these efforts.”
NEBRA’s comments (available here) applauded MADAR for its efforts to control non-point-source nutrient pollution, but urged the agency to work with stakeholders and MassDEP to come up with balanced fertilizer regulations that won’t impede organics recycling efforts.
Those in the wastewater and biosolids management profession are in between a rock and a hard place: federal permit limits are requiring removal of more nutrients from wastewater, while states, like Massachusetts, are hoping that water resource recovery facilities (WRRF) with anaerobic digestion will take in organics being diverted from landfills. Those organics increase the nutrient loading in WRRFs, making it harder for them to meet stricter permit discharge limits.
State agencies need to work together with WRRFs toward improved capture of these local nutrients, perhaps through advanced concentrated nutrient recovery systems (e.g. Ostara). Getting especially phosphorus out in a concentrated form, so that it can be shipped to places where soils need it, is a worthy goal.
Sustainability will come when nutrients in wastewater – a local source of nutrients – are 1) carefully utilized where needed on local soils, 2) any excesses are shipped in concentrated form to soils that need them, and 3) there is a reduction in the use of fertilizers (especially phosphorus) that are mined and synthesized and imported from afar.