Notable news stories from past NEBRA newsletters; most recent news at top.
See complete copies of past NEBRAMails here; they contain links to key media coverage, events, etc.
Municipal Interests Sue New Hampshire for Wrongful PFAS Rule Adoption
On September 30th, the day new water quality regulations for PFAS were to take effect in New Hampshire, a coalition of municipal, farm, and company interests sued to halt their implementation. PFAS is a family of commonly-used chemicals that have been linked to potential negative health impacts and are being aggressively regulated by a few states, including New Hampshire. Plaintiffs in the suit are Plymouth Village Water & Sewer District, Resource Management Inc., Charles Hanson, and 3M Company.
This legal action “is narrow,” according to a statement from Resource Management Inc., a company that manages biosolids and other recyclable organic residuals for municipalities throughout the state and region. It argues that the NH Department of Environmental Services (NH DES):
”1. Rushed the adoption of new regulatory standards, failing to provide the required notice and comment period for the standards and ignored extensive input from municipalities and other stakeholders;
”2. Failed to adequately conduct the required cost/benefit analysis;
”3. Failed to provide adequate scientific justification for such low MCLs and groundwater standards; and
”4. Ignored the unfunded mandate implications of the new regulations.”
As part of the court filing, the plaintiffs are seeking an immediate injunction to stop NH DES from implementing and enforcing the new regulations.
The new PFAS drinking water and groundwater regulations in question are the lowest set of enforceable standards in the country. They are 10 to 40 times lower than equivalent European and Canadian standards. NH DES itself estimated the total cost of implementing the regulations to be over $200 million in the next two years, mostly to be borne by municipalities. The state has provided municipalities no funding. And NH DES has not calculated the marginal benefits to public health from changing from the water quality enforcement levels they have been using since May 2016 to the new enforcement levels.
NEBRA and its members have commented repeatedly to NH DES and to the legislature regarding the disruptions that overly aggressive PFAS regulations could have on municipalities and their drinking water and wastewater management systems.
“Our members – wastewater systems – are the people on the front lines of protecting public health and the environment,” said NEBRA staff Ned Beecher. “We too worry about PFAS in the environment, and we are working, same as others, to reduce human exposures. But our municipal systems cannot be held liable and responsible for bearing the cost of addressing a society-wide issue that’s taken 50 years to develop.”
“We applaud the work NH DES has done so far to quickly address highly-contaminated sites and reduce risk around industrial and fire-fighting sites, like St. Gobain and Pease. But, the same rush doesn’t work for widespread background levels of PFAS. So we also applaud two of our members – Plymouth and Resource Management – who are bravely stepping forward with this suit to ensure the state follows proper procedures and develops balanced PFAS policy and regulations that are won’t destroy local budgets.”
Download NEBRA’s Oct. 1, 2019 news release
See the PFAS update below, and NEBRA’s PFAS & Biosolids information….
NH DES was asked repeatedly to address the funding question; see coverage by NHPR, Union Leader, & AP
NEBRA has additional details & data available upon request.
PFAS & Biosolids Update - Maine and New Hampshire at the Bleeding Edge of Regulation
The PFAS issue continues to expand in New England and across the U. S. In the summer, NEBRAMail reported on regulatory actions taken in NH and ME that directly impacted wastewater and biosolids programs. The ripple effects from those actions continue to propagate. Meanwhile, actions in a few other states are also raising concerns for water quality professionals, and municipalities and wastewater utilities and their biosolids programs are facing uncertainties related to potential liability and significant unforeseen costs. PFAS – per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances – are persistent and sometimes bioaccumulative chemicals that provide stain, water, and grease resistance and surfactant properties in many products and processes; they have been in common use since the 1950s and are found in trace amounts in the environment worldwide.
NEBRA’s Plans for PFAS Work in 2020
Over the past two years, NEBRA has been a national leader on PFAS related to biosolids and residuals management (and wastewater to some extent), hosting bi-monthly updates for the water quality profession, tracking research and policy in New England and other states, and commenting on legislation and regulations. NEBRA’s efforts have helped spur engagement on the PFAS issue by numerous state, regional, and national water quality groups. Many of those organizations, including CASA in California and NACWA and WEF at the national level, have taken leadership on the issue now.
Therefore, NEBRA’s Board and staff have decided that this small organization will best serve its members by reducing some of its involvement in the PFAS issue, retracting its scope somewhat to focus on the challenging PFAS issues in New England.
NEBRA appreciates the support and involvement from across the continent over the past year. The fast pace of the expanding PFAS issue has stretched NEBRA’s budget past its limits for 2019, and we are asking for donations by December 31st to close out this year in the black. We have completed the promised Scope of Work and will be tying up the loose ends in the next few weeks by organizing and packaging all of our resources for easy access and use by stakeholders nationwide.
We are then making a more modest request for PFFund contributions for 2020, with the goal of $35,000. For that, NEBRA will provide:
• Ongoing collaboration with other leading organizations addressing PFAS in the wastewater and biosolids/residuals field;
• Train-the-trainer style webinars and workshops to quickly ramp up additional experts in other states and regions to ensure a large repertoire of water quality professionals engaged on the PFAS issue going forward;
• Continue the NEBRA PFAS Advisory Group, made up of PFAS-focused NEBRA members and others who support the PFFund;
• Assist in the development, advancement, coordination, and support of appropriate research efforts related to PFAS and residuals and biosolids application to soil, including coordinating with the W4170 research group and further developing PFAS soil leaching modeling and relevant field data.
Please watch for upcoming funding requests or donate now at https://www.nebiosolids.org (please mention the PFFund as you complete the donation form).
University of California-Davis Study Finds Compost is Key to Sequestering Carbon in Soil
Researchers at the University of California at Davis recently published the results of a 19-year study into the carbon storing potential of conventional soils versus cover-cropped and compost-added soils. Unlike previous studies, UC-Davis scientists dug down 6 feet to measure carbon content, not just 12-inches as with conventional soil studies. The study was published in the journal Global Change Biology. More…
Irish Water, Ireland’s National water utility, is seeking public input on siting numerous “Regional Sludge Hub Centres”. Irish Water is moving to centralize its sludge management operations. More…
Metropolitan District Commission Sues State – PFAS Becoming an Issue in Connecticut
The Metropolitan District Commission (MDC), a municipal corporation created by the State of Connecticut in 1929 to provide water and sewer service to communities in the greater Hartford area, has sued the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP). The MDC alleges that DEEP is responsible for PFAS contamination of the leachate from the Hartford landfill, now closed, which flows to MDC’s Poquonock wastewater treatment facility. More….
Exeter, New Hampshire, Starts Up New State-of-the Art Wastewater Treatment Facility
It’s not very common to see brand new wastewater treatment facilities being built in New England, but the Town of Exeter made a major commitment to improving water quality in Great Bay with voters there approving – first shot – more than $50 million for capital improvements to decrease the amount of nitrogen being discharged into the Squamscott River. Over $36 million of that went to the new treatment facility, which began treatment of Exeter’s wastewater in June.
The new treatment system consists of a 4-stage Bardenpho activated sludge process that, according to Exeter’s Water & Sewer Manager Matt Berube, is removing nitrogen to low levels. In a recent interview with NEBRAMail, he mentioned the facility effluent was down to 5 milligrams per liter on a recent day, but that monthly averages are a little higher. As they continue fine-tuning the new treatment facility, Exeter still needs to decide how to decommission the old lagoon treatment system. The cost was originally included in the capital improvement plans, but it turns out it is going to cost a lot more than originally expected. Exeter continues to work on the closure plan. In the meantime, Exeter continues to operate the old system to some extent, like running the aeration system for odor control.
UMass Amherst Researchers Studying Microbes in Anaerobic Digesters
At the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Professors Caitlyn Butler and Nick Tooker along with PhD student Sally Cordero have been busy traveling around New England collecting samples, data, and information from anaerobic digesters. They are working with a team of researchers from throughout the world to collect as many samples as possible and ship them to Aalborg University in Denmark. There, researchers will use advanced DNA sequencing techniques to determine which bugs are in the sludge.
Operational data and design information is also being collected to try and correlate specific microbes with specific operating characteristics. This information will ultimately help operators better troubleshoot their systems, and will help engineers design more efficient reactors. Through this study, the researchers will build an improved database of the microbial population in anaerobic digestion and wastewater. The long-term-goal of this type of fundamental research is to improve design and operation of our treatment and resource recovery systems.
A survey of microbes in wastewater treatment systems was recently completed by the same group of researchers, and over one-third of the microbes observed in the samples from that study had previously not been identified! If you are interested in providing anaerobic digester samples and participating in this survey, please contact Nick Tooker (email@example.com).
For the latest on exciting work being done at UMass Amherst, follow Caitlyn (@CButlerLab) and Nick (@nbtooker) on Twitter.
For more details about the microbe database project or to learn about specific microbes visit http://www.midasfieldguide.org
A PFAS & Biosolids/Residuals Update
This spring may well be remembered as a major inflection point in biosolids management in New England - and maybe beyond. In March, Maine imposed a moratorium on land application. Now, New Hampshire is adopting the nation’s first set of enforceable drinking water MCLs (announcement June 28th), which also become groundwater standards; they are low enough to significantly impact the viability of biosolids recycling - as well as myriad other activities, perhaps including septic systems and numerous small businesses. Already, Vermont has a low groundwater limit of 20 parts per trillion (ppt) that is, in effect, difficult to apply equitably, because PFAS chemicals are found so widely.
Being seen as proactive advocates of public health protection is driving these few state agencies, as well as Michigan and a few others, in the wake of failed past drinking water crisis responses (think Flint). Public fears of these “forever chemicals” and organized community advocates in the social media age are pressuring states to act quickly ahead of U. S. EPA (which is caught in the political turmoil in Washington) - without much assessment of what it means for other aspects of public health protection programs like wastewater, septage, and biosolids management. Municipalities and publicly-owned utilities - the ones actually performing water quality work at the local level - are left to bear the costs of what is being seen as a major, shared societal error: the widespread use of PFAS since the mid-1900s.
A Postcard from the Annual W3170 Research Meeting
The latest research and summaries presented by leading land grant university scientists.
NEBRA Welcomes New Executive Director
Janine Burke-Wells is the new Executive Director of NEBRA. The announcement was made at the beginning of May by NEBRA President Tom Schwartz (Woodard and Curran) after a 5-month search process and interviews with several outstanding, experienced finalists for the position. Burke-Wells has been Executive Director of the Warwick, RI Sewer Authority since 2008 and a recent President of NEWEA. More…
The Phosphorus Sustainability Challenge
How can your operations use phosporus more efficiently and release less to water? At its annual forum April 5th in Washington, DC, the Phosphorus Sustainability Alliance announced the Phosphorus Sustainability Challenge, a call to action for organizations of any size and type to publicly commit to lower their phosphorus footprints. Wastewater treatment and biosolids management are opportunities for phosphorus recycling. More…
How Are Biosolids & Manures Regulated?
A new database of regulations provides details.
States and provinces across the U. S. and Canada regulate biosolids and manures very differently and in a variety of ways. No two jurisdictions are the same. The complexity and diversity of regulations makes managing biosolids and manures more challenging. According to the Sustainable Phosphorus Alliance, this results in barriers to efficient, protective, sustainable recycling of phosphorus and the other nutrients and organic matter in these materials.
The Alliance has created an online database of state and provincial manure and biosolids regulations, including summaries of each jurisdiction’s regulations and links to key documents. The details are being quality checked through final reviews by state regulators.
According to Rebecca Muenich, who provided an overview of the project at the Alliance’s annual forum March 5th in Washington, DC, “the project is useful for understanding the regulatory landscape and the impacts on how manure and biosolids are managed, which influences P losses. We hope this will help move toward more consistent regulations.”
The Alliance expects to make the database available online later this year.
The FOG Clears at York, Maine
Travis Jones of York Sewer District uses Lego constructions as metaphors for building a program to address FOG – fats, oils, and grease. As in other communities, the southern Maine coastal resort town of York has been plagued by its share of sewer overflows caused by FOG blockages. Jones spent the past couple of years updating the town’s sewer ordinance (which was last updated in 1976) and developing robust, enforceable FOG capture requirements for local restaurants. In an entertaining presentation showing many Lego constructions of various complexities, he stressed that a FOG program can be simple or complex – and both are effective. The marketing materials, forms, and enforcement tools he developing for York are models that he gladly shares with anyone.
Biosolids & Septage Management Affected by Strict PFAS Limits in New England
NEBRA has been advancing understanding of PFAS related to wastewater and biosolids for the past two years. “But, this spring, the issue of regulating PFAS in biosolids and other residuals, such as septage, has reached a critical level in northern New England,” said Ned Beecher, NEBRA’s Project Lead. More…
Maine DEP Approves Biosolids Compost for Renewed Distribution
Compost produced using biosolids and other feedstocks at the Hawk Ridge Compost Facility in central Maine is once again being sold and distributed around the state. Last week, Maine DEP completed its review of test data for PFAS in the compost, compost application rates, best management practice guidance, and cumulative loading rates and determined that traces of PFAS in the compost pose neglibible risk, based on current scientific knowledge. Testing and analysis of other biosolids products produced and distributed in Maine continue, and use of those products as soil amendments continues to be on hold as a result of Maine DEP’s surprise, unique March 22nd moratorium. The Hawk Ridge compost has been prized for decades for its consistency, high-nutrient value, and soil-building properties, with uses extending from high-end golf course and sports field construction to agriculture to home lawns and gardens. It is available at lawn and garden stores and nurseries around Maine and neighboring states.
Maine DEP Disrupts Biosolids Recycling
Just at the beginning of the spring season, when 50% or more of some of the major biosolids soil amendment products are distributed for the upcoming growing season, Maine DEP has pulled the plug over misrepresented concerns about PFAS.
Incinerator Ash As P Fertilizer
Université Laval research on phosphorus availability from ash has been published! NEBRA and some of our members were partners in this Canadian research that demonstrated the value of sewage sludge incinerator (SSI) ash as phosphorus fertilizer, improving plant growth.
Lead author Claude Alla Joseph presented preliminary findings of her PhD graduate work at the Northeast Residuals and Biosolids Conference in Burlington in 2017 (photo). She has been working with Professor Lotfi Khiari. Their research evaluated the effectiveness of 12 different SSI ashes from SSIs around eastern Canada and New England, with comparisons to traditional comercial P fertilizer and rock phosphate. The SSI ashes differed one from another in their P solubility percentages (PSP) because of differences in the wastewater and solids treatment processes. This resulted in varied effectiveness of the SSI ashes as P fertilizers.
The January 2019 paper is available for download here. A second, related publication on this research is in publication.
News from the NEWEA Annual Conference… The energy was high and the sessions were full at the NEWEA Annual Conference in January in Boston. Here are highlights from a biosolids perspective... Details…
EPA Releases PFAS Action Plan…. and other PFAS updates. Details…
LAWPCA Compost Facility Closing This month, the facility is ceasing operations for the foreseeable future. Details…
En brief / en bref… Slate Belt Heat Recovery Project: It's time for a positive local vote on this energy-efficient Class A facility, based on facts (not just a newspaper's poll)... EPA proposes prohibitions on flushing pharmaceuticals (see also NACWA article)... Australia health guidance for biosolids workers published in 2018 (which is similar to U. S. NIOSH guidance).... NH DES setting PFAS MCLs for drinking water; comments posted... MassDEP responding to CLF/TOC petition for treatment technique standards for PFAS in drinking water; hearing set for Jan. 16th.… NY State Drinking Water Quality Council recommends 10 ppt MCLs for PFOA & PFOS.…
En brief / en bref… Words on Water covers biosolids…. How is AD in New England?… Congratulations LAWPCA!…. AD addressing climate change…. Synagro operations at Greater Lawrence Sanitary District… Manchester, NH SSI reaches agreement with U. S. EPA…. Grow Greenly Biosolids Plant Pots… Virginia Tech biosolids webinar…. Microplastics…. PFAS & Wastewater / Residuals Conference… Read it….
Alan B. Rubin, 1941 - 2008 Alan B. Rubin, formerly of U. S. EPA, lead author of the Part 503 regulations, died from lymphoma October 25th at the age of 77. More…
11/16/2018 - 1/25/2019
EPA’s Office of Inspector General Reviews EPA’s Biosolids Regulatory Program
On November 15th, the U. S. EPA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG), an independent review branch of the Agency, released a report reviewing EPA’s biosolids regulatory program. The report is the OIG’s narrow perspective. EPA fully supports biosolids recycling and disagrees with parts of the report, while agreeing to some recommended improvements. More…
NH Legislature Super-Supports Biomass & Wood Ash - Overrides Gov’s Veto
Last spring, the NH Legislature voted to maintain the electric rate for the wood-fired biomass plants that generate renewable electricity around the state. But Governor Chris Sununu vetoed the bill…. More…
Cambridge Success: Diverting Food Scraps to Co-Digestion with Biosolids…. But the Cambridge City Council environment committee recently heard concerns about the program. More…
In Brief / en bref…
NEWEA PFAS Conference • How is anaerobic digestion (AD) doing in New England? • Synagro is now operating Greater Lawrence biosolids heat drying operations. • Manchester, NH sewage sludge incinerator to reduce mercury emissions. • Slate Belt Heat Recovery Project goes to state hearing. • Florida DEP has formed a Biosolids Technical Advisory Committee. • Microplastics • David Lewis continues unsubstantiated claims about biosolids. • Pay attention to odors!
MRF Actualités (MC)
nouvelles sur les matières residuelles fertilisantes (MRF) au Québec / News on biosolids and residuals from Québec - en français... par/by Marc Hébert, vol. 1, no. 2. More...
MRF Actualités (MC)
nouvelles sur les matières residuelles fertilisantes (MRF) au Québec / News on biosolids and residuals from Québec - en français... par/by Marc Hébert, vol. 1, no. 1. More...
In Brief / en bref...
New report from U. N. FAO: Soil pollution:
“Considering that the positive effects of sewage sludge amendment – such as waste reduction, nutrient cycling, increase of soil fertility, improvement of soil structure and water holding capacity – are significantly more important than the negative effects, efforts should focus on reducing the content of pollutants in sewage sludge and wastewaters used for irrigation.”
Research: Water treatment residuals (WTR) reduce phosphorus runoff in Vermont studies
Research: Nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions are a concern in agricultural settings.
Granby, MA residents raised concerns about biosolids and residuals reclamation activity that wasn't happening.
Organic v. Conventionally-Grown Food: "No Meaningful Differences"
Politics & Biosolids - New York
Keep communicating with neighbors to avoid upsets!
The Global GAP Standard - An international guidance for farmers that currently precludes biosolids use...
Updates on PFAS:
Perfluorinated compounds getting attention....
Politics get involved.
CDC - ATSDR releases draft PFAS Toxicological Profile.
EPA hosts PFAS summits with states.
Meanwhile, Australian health experts find "limited, or in some cases no evidence, that human exposure to PFAS is linked with human disease."
Meanwhile, NH continues to push ahead of other states on the PFAS issue.
Understanding where the PFAS issue stands now...
U. S. EPA Releases Part 503 Biennial Reviews 2013 & 2015
These Congressionally-mandated reviews evaluate contaminants that may be found in biosolids that may warrant regulation. Both reports conclude that "EPA has not identified any additional toxic pollutants for potential regulation." The reports and related fact sheets are at the U. S. EPA biosolids pages.
EPA Addresses Metals Analytical Lab Method Concern
Jean Creech of the Charlotte (NC) Water biosolids program discovered a possible regulatory Catch-22 when U. S. EPA finalized the new SW-846 6010D method for analysis of elements, including in wastewater solids and biosolids. Labs updating to the new method (replacing the former 6010C method), may not pay attention to certification requirements under state regulations, resulting in analytical data being technically unacceptable. According to Elizabeth Resek of the biosolids program in the Office of Water in Washington, DC, "there has been some concern... whether a facility is out of compliance with Part 503 requirements if the older 6010C method is used, now that there is the revised 6010D method. Per the 1998 Office of Solid Waste (now the Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery) policy memo, Resource Conservation and Recovery Act SW-846 methods function as guidance. These methods are intended to be used and modified as needed. The newer method 6010D is preferred but not required by the Part 503 Rule. The older 6010C method can still be used and a facility is not out of compliance with its use. Note that methods will be listed under SW-846. When a method is no longer listed, then that method can no longer be used. This is not the case with 6010C." Biosolids managers are advised to check with their state regulatory agency regarding state lab certification applicable to this issue.
2018 German Regulation Boosts Phosphorus Recovery...
...but reduces biosolids recycling. More...
In Brief / en bref... March/April 2018
Many, many signficant little updates... More...
2018 Legislative and Regulatory Update
Quebec, New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts... bills & regulations change. More...
Biosolids groups urge robust science and thoughtful regulatory approaches in an April 2018 letter to U. S. EPA. More...
Emerging Contaminants are Getting More Attention
PFAS (perfluorinated compounds) are one kind of emerging contaminant spawning a lot of attention these days. But there continue to be new stories about others also, and biosolids are often mentioned as a mode by which they get into the environment. The details and perspective are important. More...
Quebec Updates Environmental Quality Law, Impacting Regulations for Fertilizing Residuals
The Quebec environment ministry has updated the "loi sur la qualité de l'environnement" (LQE), the overarching environmental law, effective March 23, 2018. The regulations for "fertilizing residuals" (biosolids, etc.) are being adapted and integrated under the new law, causing some concerns. More...
U. S. EPA Posts 2017 Biosolids Data
Regulatory & Legislative Updates - VT, NH, ME, MA, CT
Lots going on. NEBRA is monitoring & participating, in collaboration with fine partners. More...
In Brief / en bref... Biosolids Use Farm Is Recognized Environmental Steward... odor management... Co-Digestion & CHP Life Cycle Analysis... Advancing composting and soil health in Atlantic Canada… Advocating for recognition of wastewater and biosolids in Vermont… Nutrient Management: Research Insights for Decision Makers... The SSI Shake out... Outreach & education... Funding Opportunities For Organics & Compost... Sustainable P Alliance update... More...
NEBRA Members Receive NEWEA Awards
As George Hawkins retires from DC Water, where he helped lead the creation of a well-publicized, Class A biosolids program, Bloom, we recall his vision for the water quality profession expressed at NEWEA's Annual Meeting in 2016. Listen...
What's Coming in 2018? Biosolids market predictions, continuing topics of high interest, & what we expect at NEBRA.
2017 Update From the NEBRA Research Committee
What NEBRA members identified as priorities for research. More...
Biosolids Recycling Affirmed Once Again
Again this year, major court actions and formal state reviews have confirmed the safety and effectiveness of biosolids recycling to soils. Most notable: Kern County in California, Pennsylvania, and now, once again, Virginia. More...
Retiring Biosolids Coordinators
Four (4!) biosolids coordinators are retiring from regulatory agencies this year! Count 'em: Mike Rainey, Ernie Kelley, Rick Stevens, and Marc Hébert. Big losses to the professional community! Fortunately, we have some skilled & knowledgeable people working to fill most of those big shoes. More...
New Rhode Island Digester Is Operating
NEBRA helped facilitate a tour on October 6th of the new Blue Sphere anaerobic digester (AD) complex near the Central Landfill in Johnston, RI. More...
NEBRA’s 20th Annual Meeting
October 27, 2017 • Burlington VT
Thirty NEBRA members and guests attended this year’s meeting, at which two important new developments were presented by the Board and staff: a new, simplified fee structure and a final draft “Vision 2021” strategic plan for NEBRA. More...
Bucklin Point Green Energy
The Narragansett Bay Commission (NBC) generously hosted a NEBRA tour of the upgraded anaerobic digestion and planned combined heat and power (CHP) systems at the Bucklin Point WWTF on July 18th. Barry Wenskowicz led the tour.
In Brief / en bref...
As of August 31st, Rick Stevens retired from U. S. EPA and its biosolids program...
New York DEC has finalized its new Part 360 solid waste (materials management) regulations....
Biosolids reviewed in PA....
James Ehlers, sometimes biosolids critic, declares run for Governor of Vermont...
The District of Columbia was the first jurisdiction in the U. S. to regulate disposal wipes. Now, the U. S. Congress may try to annul that law....
EPA Posts Electronic Biosolids Data
Beginning this past winter, U. S. EPA required most biosolids management programs to submit their annual biosolids reports electronically. Now, the 2016 data collected this year are being provided online for public consumption through the standard EPA ECHO database system.
Legislation 2017: It's a Wrap!
PLUS... Regulatory Developments
The curent status of legislation & regulations in NH, NY, VT, & beyond.
Some Updates on Phosphorus (P)
Phosphorus in biosolids and other residuals continues as a high-interest topic. NEBRA provides background on the issue here, including a link to a useful WEF Fact Sheet. As one NEBRA member pointed out recently, the P issue continues to grow, as agriculture and water quality regulators focus more on controlling P from non-point sources. There are lots of rules being shaped right now – focused on fertilizers and manures mostly. And sometimes such rules don't work well for biosolids. The biosolids profession needs to watch closely and be involved. More...
A Postcard from W 3170
A quick trip to L.A., a blur, for 2 days, with top U. S. scientists focused on "beneficial reuse of residuals and reclaimed water: impacts on soil ecosystems and human health" - the W 3170 group, a cooperative agreement under U. S. Dept. of Agriculture. CASA hosted the meeting at the Hyperion WWTF (photo). Brain power abounded. Highlights & more - including photos of the amazing Hyperion Environmental Learning Center!
The USDA BioPreferred Program - A Chance to Boost Marketing
Want a possible boost for sales of biosolids, reiduals, compost, mulch, wood ash, and other bio-based products? The U. S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) BioPreferred Program may help. By labeling your products BioPreferred and listing them on the Program's website, you may steer federal agencies - which have to buy BioPreferred if possible - and others to your products. More...
In Brief / en bref... More...
Notes from 2017 WEF RBC
This year’s WEF Residuals & Biosolids Conference (RBC) was held in Seattle, WA in early April. Northwest Biosolids was co-sponsor and local host of the conference, ensuring some clear mornings that allowed Mt. Rainier to shine on the southeast horizon and some clear visions for resource recovery through biosolids. More...
In Brief / en bref...
...The Slate Belt Heat Recovery project... Hamilton, Ontario is moving ahead with a new biosolids heat drying facility... International Compost Awareness Week is May 7 - 13... Source control, industrial pretreatment, and pollution prevention (P2) continue to play a key role in protecting biosolids quality... The United Nations has highlighted the value of wastewater... WE&RF report on Assessing the Benefits and Costs of Anaerobic Digester CHP (Combined Heat & Power] Projects in New York State.... More...
EPA and Part 503 Regulation of Struvite Products
EPA has decided that struvite fertilizers and other products made for land application are, by default, “derived from sewage sludge” and thus subject to the requirements of 40 CFR Part 503. However, the agency “is willing to consider on an individual case-by-case basis whether a particular product recovered from sewage sludge is beyond the scope of Part 503.” This EPA decision was conveyed in a January 2017 letter to the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA). For a few years, producers of struvite fertilizers, NACWA, NEBRA, and others have discussed with EPA the question of 503 applicability. Struvite fertilizers are generated by engineered precipitation from thickened and/or digested solids or centrate/filtrate. Such processes are increasingly important in protecting treatment facility equipment from struvite (and/or vivianite) build-up, reducing total phosphorus (P) in final biosolids products, and maximizing resource recovery.
As part of its determination, which the agency stresses is subject to change, EPA does make it clear that products “extracted” from sewage sludge that are not land applied, land disposed, or incinerated are not subject to Part 503. An example used in the EPA letter is an element such as silver.
More details are available from the NEBRA office.
"Biosludged" - Mike Adams & Natural News & Biosolids
The Health Ranger (Mike Adams) and “Natural News” have joined other conspiracy theorists in attacking the land application of biosolids. Adams' websites (e.g. "biosludge.news") are promoting a new movie, “Biosludged: The Greatest Environment Crime You’ve Never Known," which is due to be released online this year. It almost seems like a spoof, something so ludicrous that it can be ignored. But background on Mr. Adams and his many questionable commercial exploits reveals someone who unfortunately has considerable social media influence, has rankled many professional scientists, and disrupted important quality research programs. It is a sign of the times that "fake news" is entering the fringe debates about biosolids recycling.
Quebec Publishes Key Biosolids Reports
In 2016, the Quebec public health institute (INSP du Québec), the Quebec environment ministry (MDELCC), and RECYC-QUÉBEC released important and informative reports (en français) that advance biosolids and residuals recycling in the province:
In Brief / en bref... Vermont bill would phase out land application... Synagro contract with Waterbury, CT... WEF hires new biosolids program manager... EPA withdraws dental amalgam rule...
U. S. EPA: Struvite Products May Be Regulated by Part 503...
U.S. EPA has decided that struvite fertilizers and other products made for land application are, by default, "derived from sewage sludge" and, thus, subject to the requirements of 40 CFR Part 503. However, the Agency "is willing to consider on an individual case-by-case basis whether a particular product recovered from sewage sludge is beyond the scope of Part 503." More...
Trace Chemicals / Microconstituents Update:
Biosolids and POPs & PFASs
NEBRA has just released an Information Update on perfuorinated alkyl substances (PFASs) in biosolids.
The MABA blog includes mention of researchers at AZ State University who have been analyzing biosolids for many years, focusing on analyzing wastewater solids to understand city community health.
Virginia Court Upholds State Biosolids Regulations
In December, there was another major legal victory for biosolids recycling. The Richmond, Virginia, Circuit Court upheld the new VA Department of Environmental Quality Biosolids Regulations against a legal challenge brought by the Potomac and Shenandoah Riverkeeper organizations. This decision comes shortly after a court in California struck down the Kern County voter initiated ban on biosolids use. More...
In Brief / en bref... WE&RF Hi-Quality Biosolids Project.... EPA Dental Effluent Pretreatment guidelines.... Bob Bastian retiring.... "Poop-powered cars".... WIFIA funding.... Details...
Quebec and Ontario Start GHG Cap & Trade
Offsets program will produce value for landfill diversion and AD
To reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, Quebec and Ontario are instituting cap & trade systems beginning January 1, 2017. A key component of cap & trade is the use of offsets – reductions of GHG emissions realized by entities other than the regulated (capped) emitters. As noted on the Ontario website, “Offset credits… create financial incentives for companies, people and organizations to implement projects to fight climate change." More...
Biosolids Ban Struck Down in Kern County
After a decade of legal battles, the City of Los Angeles and other biosolids generators in southern California have won a major victory for biosolids in Kern County. More...
In Brief / en bref... December 2016
Congratulations Jeff McBurnie, also Lise LeBlanc• Phosphorus advice from UMass... • New regional biosolids drying facility planned for PA... • Diverting organics in the Northeast is not free!... • U. S. EPA new biosolids sampling survey on hold... • Lockport, NY extends biosolids moratorium... • Greening mines with biosolids... and how long is it effective? • Soil health getting more attention from the White House... • New bioenergy fact sheets from WEF... • Recognizing Milorganite's 90th... • NW Biosolids unveils new website...
Electronic Reporting Begins
In addition to NPDES reports (e.g. DMRs), biosolids reports due to U. S. EPA by February 19, 2017 must now be submitted online. State reporting requirements remain mostly unchanged. More...
What's Happening With Biosolids & Residuals in the States & Provinces
Prince Edward Island, Vermont, and New Hampshire environmental agencies sent representatives to The Northeast Residuals & Biosolids Conference for the biennial Northeast "Regulation Roundtable." "We thank these agencies and individuals for showing up and communicating with biosolids managers and others in the regulated community," said Ned Beecher of NEBRA. "Regular interactions ensure ongoing mutual understanding and respect in dealing with biosolids and organic residuals in this region." This year, the conference Roundtable was ably moderated by Ben Smith, the new Residuals Workgroup coordinator for NEIWPCC. Here's what we learned...
MDAR Hears Comments Re Plant Nutrient Regulations
The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) held a public hearing October 27th regarding proposed revisions to the state's Plant Nutrient Regulations (330 CMR 31.00). MDAR's proposed revisions come about a year after the regulations went into effect. More...
In Brief / en bref...
U. S. EPA is starting TNSSS 2.0 – a second round of testing of statistically representative samples of wastewater solids from around the lower 48 states...
Kern County, CA: A final court decision from the decade-long legal battle over Kern County’s ban on use of imported biosolids (“Measure E”) is expected this fall...
The small mountain resort town of Bethel, Maine just bought a small, used Huber inclined screw press...
The Water Environment & Reuse Foundation (WE&RF) has accepted a proposal to research the reclamation of fire-ravaged land using biosolids...
MA Updates Biosolids Molybdenum Standard
It's official: the Massachusetts biosolids standard for molybdenum (Mo) is now 40 mg/kg. More...
In Brief / en bref...
4 Canadian biosolids researchers respond to an open letter that had raised fears about biosolids...
The New York Solid Waste Regulations are being revised...
Maryland is considering backing off on or delaying its very restrictive regulation of phosphorus applied to soils in manures and biosolids...
The Montague, MA Water Pollution Control Facility (WPCF) has, for several years, operated a novel process...
WEF will announce, at WEFTEC 2017 in September, the first annual "Utility of the Future Today" awards for wastewater treatment facilities...
Professor Rolf Halden (Arizona State University) continues to look closely at wastewater solids...
Featured in TPO...
NEBRA Organizes Tour for Gilmanton Residents
On July 29, 2016, three members of the Gilmanton, NH Biosolids Committee visited the Concord, NH Hall Street wastewater treatment plant and witnessed a short, but typical, land application of biosolids on a Gilmanton hay field. More...
In Brief / en bref... July 2016
Wheatfield, NY defends local biosolids ordinance against NY Dept. of Markets & Agriculture....
Dr. Rufus Chaney was celebrated by his research colleagues at the W-3170 meeting in June.
Success: Vermont Water Quality Day
The Friday before Memorial Day weekend, Vermonters celebrated Water Quality Day. In a proclamation, Governor Peter Shumlin noted that "the stormwater, wastewater and drinking water systems and the staff that operate them 24/7, 365 days a year are public servants dedicated to protecting public health and the environment and deserve the understanding and support of the Vermont citizenry." Therefore, on that Friday, May 27th, water, wastewater, biosolids, and stormwater treatment facilities around the state hosted open houses and offered tours "so that Vermonters can learn about this vital, but hidden infrastructure." More...
In Brief / en bref... June 2016
Managing Phosphorus (P) in Organic Residuals Applied to Soils - UMass Extension symposium November 2nd...
Montreal, QC recyling plan... Biosolids are included....
Region of Waterloo public consultation process on biosolids management...
EPA banned fracking wastewater from disposal at WRRFs...
Ebola-infected wastewater should be pretreated at hospitals...
Dr. Rufus Chaney is retiring after 47 years with the USDA....
MassDEP: New Standard for Mo in Biosolids
Public comment period closes July 13th
Public hearing in Boston June 27th
A revised standard for molybdenum in biosolids applied to soils in Massachusetts (MA) will likely take effect later this year. On June 3rd, the MA Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) announced the proposed change to the "sludge and septage" regulations (310 CMR 32.00). More...
2016 Regional Regulatory & Legislative Round-up:
New York State Solid Waste regulation revisions
MA Plant Nutrient Management regulation changes
Maine Solid Waste legislation
Vermont DEC staffing & program changes
Newport, NH septage zoning ordinance
Biosolids Down and Up in Western New York
On May 6, 2016, a lower court in Niagara Falls, NY upheld the Town of Wheatfield's ban on use of biosolids, which was created in July 2014. Sustainable BioElectric LLC, a quasar energy group company, had petitioned the court to annul the ordinance.
But, one month later, on June 9th, the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets (NYSDAM) ordered Wheatfield not to enforce its ordinance in agricultural districts, because it unreasonably restricts a local farm's operation in violation of the state's "right-to-farm" law. More...
Reporting from the Canadian Biosolids & Residuals Conference
As notorious fires burned northward in Alberta’s oil patch, about 100 leading Canadian biosolids professionals gathered in the provincial capital, Edmonton, for the 2016 Canadian Biosolids and Residuals Conference. More...
Updates from Quebec
....Biosolids Use in Quebec - Several Facts....Other Organics....New odor guide....Research on forest use of biosolids....
Beyond EMS: Lessons from the First Certified Agency
Orange County Sanitation District (OCSD) in southern California was the first organization to become certified under the National Biosolids Partnership (NBP) Environmental Management System (EMS) program. This from an OCSD news release:
Implementing and maintaining the NBP certification over the last 15 years has helped OCSD’s biosolids program blossom into an effective, award-winning program that will remain strong. In light of our program’s maturation and the strengthened regulatory oversight now in place in Southern California and Arizona, OCSD is developing and utilizing an internal standard. As a result, OCSD withdrew from the NBP certification program in November 2015.... More...
In Brief / en bref...
Final Federal Implementation Plan for the new U. S. EPA air emissions regulations for sewage sludge incinerators (SSI)...
Proposed amended standard in Massachusetts for molybdenum (Mo) in biosolids that are land applied...
Fitchburg, MA is considering reactivating its Westerly wastewater treatment plant for anaerobic digestion...
Special biosolids edition of NYWEA's Clearwaters...
WERF and WateReuse Research Foundation have merged...
Court case update: Los Angeles et al. vs. Kern County, California
VT DEC has a new website..
Water quality continues to be in the spotlight in the Green Mountain State...
Philadelphia is requiring in-sink disposers in new residential buildings...
Reporting from the WEF Residuals & Biosolids Conference, Milwaukee
The industry most people associate with Milwaukee – beer – is all about water. But to those in biosolids management, the most famous thing here is Milorganite®, which is celebrating its 90th year in 2016. Milorganite® was a focus of this year’s annual WEF Residuals & Biosolids Conference... More...
MA: Regulating P in Biosolids & Soils
For most of the past year, NEBRA's Reg/Leg and Research Committees have been working to understand and comment on the new Massachusetts nutrient regulation, 330 CMR 31.00. In December, NEBRA met with the authors of the regulation, staff of the MA Dept. of Agricultural Resources (MDAR). The core concern is to what extent the regulation's restrictions on phosphorus (P) additions to soils will impede markets for biosolids and other organic residuals. NEBRA supports the goal of the regulation and the legislation that drove it - keeping P out of surface waters.
Gilmanton NH Votes to Support Farms & Biosolids
After a heated debate locally and in print and online newspapers, the citizens of Gilmanton, NH, in the lakes region of central New Hampshire (NH), chose to allow continued biosolids use, although the vote was close (close enough to lead to a recount). Several farmers, some of whom have used biosolids as a regular part of their operations for as much as 20 years, were vocal in opposing a proposed ban brought by referendum by several voters. The proposal was driven by concerns of neighbors near farms using biosolids. They complained of odors and other nuisance issues. Before the vote, the local Planning Board completed its required review of the proposed ordinance (which was to be a part of zoning) and voted to oppose it. The March 8, 2016 ballot vote defeated the proposed ordinance.
Despite the victory in defense of biosolids, the issue in Gilmanton has not gone away, and some town leaders and citizens are seeking to further address citizens' concerns. As in other local conflicts, ongoign discontent can continue as long as any significant parties's concerns remain unresolved.
In Brief / en bref....
EPA Biosolids Program Update
NY DEC Releases Draft Update of Solid Waste Rules; biosolids included - comments due by July 15th.
Vermont DEC sent its required biosolids report to the Legislature on January 16, 2016.
Microbeads banned in Canada.
Bridgewater, MA is considering implementing local restrictions on biosolids/septage use.
In Massachusetts, drug companies are now responsible for where their products end up.
Meanwhile, U. S. FDA is being urged to steer away from recommending flushing of any drugs.
The BNQ Compost Quality Standard has been revised.
In Quebec, ash from sewage sludge incinerators (SSIs) can now be used as a fertilizer.
Demonstrating significant benefits of biosolids use in Ontario
Local biosolids debates continue in Western New York.
Urban Soils - New Research Published
A Special Section of the January, 2016, Journal of Environmental Quality focuses on "Soil in the City." The introduction states: "This special section comprises 12 targeted papers... to make available much needed information about the characteristics of urban soils. Innovative ways to mitigate the risks from pollutants and to improve the soil quality using local resources are discussed. Such practices include the use of composts and biosolids to grow healthy foods, reclaim brownfields, manage stormwater, and improve the overall ecosystem functioning of urban soils.
"These papers provide a needed resource for educating policymakers, practitioners, and the general public about using locally available resources to restore fertility, productivity, and ecosystem functioning of degraded urban land to revitalize metropolitan areas for improving the overall quality of life for a large segment of a rapidly growing urban population."
The papers are from the “Soil in the City— 2014” conference organized by the W-2170 Committee – USDA’s Sponsored Multi-State Research Project on Soil-Based Use of Residuals, Wastewater, & Reclaimed Water.
Or contact NEBRA for more...
PA Supreme Court: Biosolids Use Is a "Normal Agricultural Activity"
In late December, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court unanimously ruled in favor of biosolids management company Synagro and farmers who use biosolids, finding that biosolids recycling on farms is a "normal agricultural practice" and is therefore protected from untimely and burdensome litigation. The case, known as Gilbert v. Synagro, has been watched closely by biosolids managers and farmers, because it occurred in a large, agricultural state in the eastern U. S., where conflict over biosolids and other farming practices continue to fester in areas where suburban growth has spread into traditional farming areas. Right-To-Farm Acts exist in some form in every state. Municipalities everywhere are now clearly on notice that arbitrary ordinances interfering with agricultural uses of biosolids may be unlawful, depending on the specific provisions of a state's right-to-farm law. More...
NEBRA Recognized by Biosolids Management Award
On Wednesday, January 27th, at its Annual Conference, NEWEA presents its annual Biosolids Management Award to NEBRA's Ned Beecher, who has been Executive Director since the organization's inception in 1998.
With little fanfare, just as 2015 ended, President OBama signed into law a bill banning microbeads in consumer products. Environmental concerns had been mounting for years regarding these tiny bits of plastic used as exfoliants in personal care products (see 2014 New York State Attorney General's report). Several states had already banned them, and the recent federal action was a rare recent showing of bipartisanship action. The ban becomes effective July 1, 2017. Several of the largest consumer products companies had already pledged to phase out use of microbeads.
The ban will help protect the quality of wastewater treatment effluent and biosolids.
NH Legislature Considers Studying Septage - Again
The New Hampshire Legislature is considering a bill (HB 1398) that would establish a commission to study septage management. The bill was introduced by legislators from the Newport area in the central western part of the state. There controversy has been swirling since last spring over a proposed new septage land application site. The local Planning Board has introduced a zoning change that would restrict septage land application, and a court case is in process.
At a legislative hearing before the House Environment & Agriculture Committee on January 19th, NEBRA and several septage management professionals testified strongly against setting up a legislative study commission, noting that the legislature and the NH Department of Environmental Services (DES) have studied septage and biosolids management for much of the past two decades. At the hearing, DES also recommended that the bill be voted down. NEBRA's letter noted that the local concerns in Newport should be worked out locally and not played out at the state level. Testimony by the NH Association of Septage Haulers and Paul Johnson of Best Septic explained the practices required in septage management that ensure its safety and benefits to crops.
The E & A Committee has not yet scheduled further action on HB 1398.
NEBRA members can view NEBRA's testimony on the Reg/Leg Committee webpage.
Montreal food scrap recovery plan...
Pulp and paper mill residuals use & disposal...
Compiled research studies...
Wood ash recycling...
In Brief / en bref...
Congratulations to the Rich Earth Institute (REI) and lead author Abe Noe-Hays for an article on their Brattleboro, VT – based urine diversion program and research...
Two wood-to-energy plants in Maine will close in March...
Food scraps & other organic "wastes" are a tough market...
Philadelphia is now requiring new home construction to include installation of in-sink food disposers that grind food scraps and send them into the wastewater collection and treatment system...
New Hampshire Finalizes New "Sludge" Regulations
On December 17th, the NH Dept. of Environmental Services (NHDES) completed the final major step of the rulemaking process for new rules governing biosolids, short paper fiber, and other “sludges” in New Hampshire. More...
Quebec Publishes Updated Regulations & Guidance for Biosolids & Residuals Recycling
In December 2015, the Quebec environment ministry published the 4th edition of its "Guide for Recycling of Fertilizing Residuals" (French version here). As noted in the preface, this edition comes 31 years after Quebec's first "Guide on Best Practices for Agricultural Use of Municipal Sludges" (September 1984). The new requirements go into effect February 15, 2016. The ministry plans to hold a training on January 20 & 21, 2016, in Quebec City.... More...
NEBRA Continues Quest To Understand MA Nutrient Regulations
On December 5, 2015, the new Massachusetts plant nutrient management regulations went into effect for agriculture. The portions of the new regulation pertaining to turf grass had gone into effect in June, 2015. Much of this year, NEBRA staff and members have been trying to learn from the agency responsible for the regulations – the Massachusetts Dept. of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) – to what extent the regulations apply to biosolids and other organic residuals and to what lands they apply. On December 10th, several NEBRA members held productive discussions with MDAR staff at MDAR's offices in Boston.... More...
One Year Into The Massachusetts Organics Landfill Ban
Massachusetts is looking back on its first year of the landfill ban on organics. MassDEP has done a fine job advancing the program, as recognized by U. S. EPA's "Food Recovery Challenge." MassDEP's John Fischer and others have compiled initial draft data on food waste diversion from disposal in 2014. More...
Vermont DEC Announces Formation of Advisory Committee as Next Step in Biosolids Rulemaking
On December 10th, the Vermont Dept. of Environmental Conservation held a public meeting to present a “white paper” on the science and experience of biosolids management in Vermont. Eamon Twohig (DEC), one of the authors of the white paper, presented a summary of the scientific literature review included in the white paper. Ernie Kelley, manager of the DEC wastewater program, announced that the next step in the Department's slowly-developing rule-making process is to convene an Advisory Committee. About 50 wastewater and biosolids professionals attended the meeting, many providing comments on the white paper and upcoming rulemaking process.
In Brief / en bref...
Integrated Resource Management (IRM) is in progress at New Bedford, MA, according to a presentation by Jason Turgeon, EPA Region 1, at BioCycle REFOR15 conference last month. See presentation here.
The Soil Prep biosolids facility in Plymouth, ME still generating odor complaints...
The New York town of Marilla has spent $155,000+ trying to keep out biosolids, according to Town Board figures cited by the Buffalo News.
EPA has released the TMDL of the Vermont portion of Lake Champlain.
Mining metals in wastewater: Recently, there have been several papers published regarding measured levels of precious metals in wastewater solids. Now, Thames Water in the UK has taken interest. This London Telegraph article indicates considerable potential value. The unanswered question from this and former investigations is whether or not recovering the valuable metal(s) is cost-effective. This article cites recovery of gold from incinerator ash in Nagano, Japan. But it is important to note that that location has industries that use gold, enriching the wastewater. Nevertheless, despite our earlier skepticism, evidence is mounting that there may precious metals in enough concentration to be cost-effectively recovered in at least some locations. The challenge this raises is whether metals recovery can be done as part of processes that lead to beneficial uses of the other resources in biosolids (e.g. nutrients, organic matter), or whether incineration is required to concentrate the metals. Stay tuned...
FDA Finalizes Produce Safety Rule
Biosolids = an accepted practice
In Brief/en bref...
Vermont releases draft White Paper on biosolids management
Western New York biosolids debate
Energy projects at wastewater & water facilities are focus of research projects
Plastic microbeads are banned in California
Vitriolic biosolids debate in British Columbia begins to see constructive dialogue
Capturing and moving phosphorus out of distressed watersheds...
EPA Electronic Reporting Rule Finalized
...Includes Biosolids Reports
On September 24, 2015, Administrator Gina McCarthy signed the final National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Electronic Reporting Rule for publication in the Federal Register.... This rule will replace most paper-based Clean Water Act (CWA) NPDES permitting and compliance monitoring reporting requirements with electronic reporting... biosolids reporting included. More...
NY Dept. of Agriculture & Markets Enforces Right to Farm
Biosolids Use in Western NY Town Upheld
On August 26th, the New York State agriculture department (DAM) enforced the state's "right-to-farm" provisions by telling the Town of Bennington not to enforce its ban on land application of biosolids (treated sewage sludge). The request for DAM review was instigated when Travco Farms was denied by the Town its right to use biosolids from nearby quasar energy group anaerobic digestion facilities. Bennington's Local Law No. 1, created in 2014, "prohibits the disposal of any sludge, sewage sludge, or septage from sources outside of the Town of Bennington." The local law is, essentially, illegal. More...
NO P: MA Nutrient Management Regulations Take Effect
In 2014, the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) proposed a new fertilizer nutrient management regulation focused on reducing phosphorus (P) runoff and leaching that contribute to eutrophication of surface waters. Now, pressure to get the regulation in place led to MDAR suddenly promulgating a final regulation (330 CMR 31.00) late this spring with the first effective date – for fertilization of turf – being June 5, 2015. The agricultural parts of the regulation go into effect on December 5, 2015. More...
NY Court Finds Biosolids Recycling is an "Agricultural Activity"
In 2012 and 2013, quasar energy group's Sustainable Biopower subsidiary applied for a permit from the NY State Dept. of Environmental Conservation (DEC) for anaerobic digestate (biosolids) storage on a farm in the town of Marilla, southeast of Buffalo. DEC received over 100 public comments on the application, and the town, spurred by local opposition, took a stand against the project. On March 7, 2014, DEC approved the permit. In June of that year, the Town filed a "law & rules" review petition, claiming that DEC's decision on the permit was "capricious" and unlawful.
On August 24th, 2015, the State Supreme Court, Erie County, dismissed Marilla's claims, finding in favor of DEC, Sustainable Biopower, and the farmer on most of the legal technical questions (e.g. statute of limitations) and on substantive issues. Most notably, the court noted that the proposed storage of biosolids is an "agricultural activity," which is protected in agricultural zones (the specific farm is so zoned). The DEC permit remains in place. Read the decision.
Meanwhile, in the nearby town of Lockport, a moratorium on biosolids use is under consideration.
Dalhousie University Biosolids Research Symposium
Dalhousie University held a research symposium on June 11, 2015 at which a team of researchers from around eastern Canada - led by Gordon Price - presented their findings regarding multi-year field and laboratory trials of alkaline-stabilized biosolids (ASB) applied to soils....
Prions, TSEs, Alzheimer's, and Biosolids
Recently, there has been online coverage suggesting that biosolids recycling to soils may contribute to prion-related or similar diseases. This coverage is being cited by citizens concerned about biosolids recycling projects, and biosolids managers are once again learning about another bogus claim. There was a similar public discussion of this same topic about 10 years ago....
In Brief / en bref - July 2015
New WERF energy report... NEBRA presents at NACSETAC... Yale's Jordon Peccia publishes provocative paper... Washington Supreme Court... Pyrolysis of paper mill residuals...
In Brief/en bref... Pharmaceutical waste management
Local laws that require drug manufacturers to pay for the disposal of unwanted drugs have been found to be constitutional. In May 2015, the U. S. Supreme Court refused to review an appeals court ruling regarding a California community's producer responsibility drug disposal ordinance. Details from the Product Stewardship Institute.
Biosolids Legislation & Regulation 2015
A summary of key developments in legislation and regulations related to biosolids and residuals in this region. Contact the NEBRA office for the latest information.
Manure Case Law & the Importance of Nutrient Management Planning
A federal court in Yakima, WA ruled in January that a dairy farm is liable for over-application of nutrients that impacted groundwater quality with nitrate pollution. This new case law puts a heightened emphasis on formal nutrient management plans - and carefully following them. Most biosolids are applied in accordance with such plans....
Vermont House Passes Major Water Quality Legislation
Vermont is trying to get serious about reducing phosphorus (P) inputs to Lake Champlain, and the wastewater treatment profession is being heard....
Western NY Biosolids Debate: An Update
The public debate continues about land application of biosolids from anaerobic digesters in western New York state. Here are recent developments....
In Brief / en bref...
More 2015 Legislation... U. S. EPA has published the final report on its 2011 biennial review... Gold in them thar... sludge... And there are drugs too... Demonstrated Energy Neutrality Leadership... "Maximize the use of anaerobic digestion capacity at NYC DEP's wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs)....
The 2015 Legislative Season
Local control, odors, and microbeads are being considered in New York, North Carolina, and Maine.
What's Happening with Biosolids at U. S. EPA?
An update on biennial reviews, the Targeted National Sewage Sludge Survey data, and other EPA projects related to biosolids - what's planned for 2015.
In Brief / en bref...
Odor issue in Ohio... new video & approach to communications for Region of Waterloo, ON... gold in wastewater... Kern County, CA update... Professional Composter certification program coming soon....
Triple Bottom Line (TBL) For Biosolids Management
The Water Environment Research Foundation (WERF) has published "Triple Bottom Line Evaluation of Biosolids Management Options," providing guidance on bringing environmental and social criteria into decision-making regarding biosolids management options. A NEBRA team played a large role in this project.
In 2013, U. S. EPA proposed a new rule requiring electronic reporting of NPDES information and reports, which include biosolids reports. How would the updated proposed rule affect biosolids management?
In Brief / en bref... January 2015
Vermont still plagued by indecision about biosolids.... Marlborough, MA and WeCare are in conflict... Spent foundry sand: another residual (inorganic) available for soil use... Developing solutions for developing communities... The quasar energy group continues its efforts for biosolids land application in western New York state... Kern County, CA takes quiet steps to restrict biosolids land application... Annual U. S. Biosolids Reports...
Call for Innovative Wastewater Technologies for Consideration at the WEF/WERF Forum on Intensification of Resource Recovery (WEF News Release) - Deadline January 16
The Water Environment Federation (WEF) and the Water Environment Research Foundation (WERF) are currently seeking cutting-edge wastewater treatment technologies that provide intensification of resource recovery, including recovery of energy, nutrients, water, and other products. A forum will be held in August; submissions of technology presentations are due January 16, 2015.
Biosolids Trace Chemicals Research Happening in This Region
Gordon Price discusses research he started in 2008
U. S. FDA - Update to Proposed Food Safety Rules
In September, the U. S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) released updated versions of several rules related to food safety.
Ebola - Latest Guidance for Wastewater & Biosolids
Opportunity to support research on ebola & wastewater
As previously noted, the U. S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued ebola guidance for wastewater workers. Some in the wastewater management community have gone further in considering the potential risks and best worker safety practices.
In Brief / en bref...
...BNQ comments due...quasar v. Wheatfield...Annual biosolids reports guidance...Introducing Transaqua...Biogenic carbon...
Updates on 3 Significant Biosolids Court Cases
News from three ongoing biosolids court cases - in Washington state, California, and Pennsylvania.
Ebola - Update for Wastewater & Biosolids Workers
Interim information on the potential risks from ebola virus, should further cases occur in the North America.
Compost Council of Canada Conference Celebrates Nova Scotia & Its Leadership in Organics Recycling
24th National Compost Conference Held in Halifax
Developing International "Sludge" Standards
Canada hosts workshop and meetings of the ISO Technical Committee 275, which is developing standards for biosolids.
The Final Act for Kern County's Biosolids Ban?
“The time has come to issue a permanent injunction against Kern County Measure E..."
They're Here: Food Waste Disposal Bans
VT Began July 1; MA Begins Oct. 1
Support by environmental groups echoes arguments for biosolids recycling.
Summer 2014: Some Biosolids Programs Under Seige
Every year, during peak agricultural activity across the continent, as biosolids are land applied like other fertilizers, there are scattered odor complaints and conflicts with neighbors that make it into the media. But this summer seemed to have more biosolids controversy...
Maine DEP Finalizes New Odor Regulations
Maine facilities that compost or otherwise process wastewater solids and septage will have to follow new, strict odor standards in early 2015 when new provisions take effect.
New Book by David Lewis, PhD
Released in June 2014: a new book by microbiologist and former EPA employee David Lewis, PhD.
Use It Or Lose It
Andrew Carpenter, President of NEBRA, presented "Maximizing Biosolids Benefits to Soils" on May 20, 2014, at the annual WEF Residuals and Biosolids Conference in Austin, TX.
Biosolids on Vermont Farm
Biosolids land application on an Essex Junction, VT farm was demonstrated during Vermont's Water Quality Day on May 23, 2014.
Update: Triclosan & Other Trace Chemicals in Biosolids
Biosolids contain traces of chemicals used in our daily lives. But research continues to indicate negiligible human health risks from such traces in biosolids. Triclosan is an example of a chemical that should probably be phased out, in part because it taints public perception of biosolids.
LAWPCA Wins Environmental Excellence Award
In May, 2014, Lewiston-Auburn Water Pollution Control Authority (LAWPCA) won another honor for its AD & CHP program.
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).
EPA Sewage Sludge Incinerator Regulation Update
A March, 2014 update from the EPA Office of Air Quality Planning & Standards includes information on the ongoing litigation and how the Agency is addressing gasification and use of biosolids as a fuel source as the sewage sludge incineration regulations are implemented....
Montreal Round Table: What to Do with Organics?
A Montreal round table discussion in February 2014 began the discussion of co-management of biosolids and other organics....
Whole Foods Biosolids Policy – Where to Now?
The natural grocer Whole foods and water and wastewater professionals have common ground but can they have an uncommon dialog?
Duke University Research Implicates Biosolids - Without Even Testing Them
Duke University researchers are hoping to help improve the screening of chemicals for their potential impacts on soils and the environment. They have developed a quick and inexpensive bioassay system that uses inhibition of denitrification activity in soil to detect impacts from chemicals such as the anti-microbial triclosan (TCS, commonly used in soaps). They reported their research in a January paper in Environmental Science & Technology.
PR Watch Uses Whole Foods to Attack Biosolids
The supermarket chain Whole Foods was targeted by PR Watch over the past year in an organized campaign against biosolids recycling.... News and commentary by Ned Beecher, NEBRA
Quebec Takes Steps to Advance Organics Recycling
Quebec to eliminate landfill disposal of organics by 2020.
Titles of articles prior to 2014
Contact the NEBRA office for copies of articles that do not have live links.
Vermont Biosolids Forum - includes video
November 5, 2013 Vermont Forum on Biosolids Land Application • Waterbury, VT
This forum was convened by the Vermont Dept. of Environmental Conservation (DEC). It included ~80 stakeholders involved in biosolids management throughout the state, including farmers, solid waste managers, wastewater treatment facility personnel, biosolids management companies, and NEBRA - all of whom spoke in support of recycling biosolids to soils in accordance with current regulations. These presentations provide excellent testimony on the benefits and safety of using modern biosolids as soil amendments and fertilizers. Two attendees spoke against the practice. At the forum, DEC announced its plan to begin the process of updating the state's biosolids management regulations.
NEBRA Comments on Federal Rules
FDA Food Safety Regulations & EPA Electronic Reporting Rule
North East Residuals & Biosolids Conference
From 503 to Infinity the NE Residuals and Biosolids Conference
16th Annual Meeting of the NEBRA Membership
NEBRA Board and Officers Elected!
Urine Diversion - Liquid Gold!
Urine Diverting Toilets a new way to recycle...
Maine DEP Proposes Odor Standards for Composting and Septage Facilities
Maine DEP Odor Standards
Massachusetts Organics Waste Ban Update
As long promised, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) has proposed a regulatory change that "would add 'commercial organic material' to the list of materials banned from disposal...
Beyond the Recycle Bin
October NERC Newsletter
In the back of the kitchen, the garage, the basement, or the mudroom, most of us have our sorting bins. Somehow, as we become more progressive in our recycling, our bins become more interesting. In my pantry, my recycling bins fit my way of thinking. There is compost, glass, metal, plastic, and paper. This variety could make me a little smug, but they are also a reflection of how far my little New England town has come in their way of thinking about what was formerly thought of as waste.
MA WPCA Trade Show - What do you do with your biosolids?
Massachusetts water resource recovery facilities need more options for biosolids management.
Why Biosolids Organizations Are Needed And Why You Should Be Involved!
Biosolids regional groups & committees - Resources for your biosoilds management programs....
Biogas Data Website Upgrade
NEBRA announces upgrade to biogas data website.
MassDEP Releases Draft Organics Waste Ban
MassDEP has formally proposed a ban on landfilling certain organics (food waste).
Quebec Report on Food Industry Organic Waste
Quebec's environment ministry has a new report on the production and management of food industry organic waste.
A Postcard from the WEF Residuals & Biosolids Conference, May, in Nashville
The annual WEF Residuals & Biosolids Conference was the usual stimulating blur of information and new and old friends - talks, exhibits, learning, chance & formal meetings, negotiating deals, slides, energy...
ME Legislature Adjusts Fertilizer Law for Biosolids
At the end of May, both houses of the Maine legislature passed LD 1009, which provides for exemptions and flexibility for biosolids under the state's commercial fertilizer law and its labeling requirements.
MassDEP Reforms Small Part of Sludge Rules
More than 20 years ago, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) adopted regulations for the land application of "sludges." Soon after, the U. S. EPA adopted the Part 503 regulations for biosolids management. Since then, MassDEP has never updated the state regulations, and some of the state standards conflict with those in Part 503.
Member Highlight: LAWPCA Nears Completion of Anaerobic Digesters and Cogeneration Plant!
by Maggie Finn, Administrative & Project Assistant
In April, I had the pleasure of visiting the Lewiston Auburn Water Pollution Control Authority (LAWPCA) for a biosolids composting workshop, sponsored by JETCC. The workshop was well run and informative and a highlight was a tour of the new anaerobic digester and cogeneration Infrastructure, which is under construction at the Lewiston facility. Mac Richardson, long time superintendent, NEBRA member, and forward thinker gave a spectacular tour to workshop attendees. The two new digesters are nearing completion, and the flexible membrane biogas storage tank was inflated and almost ready for use. Sparks were flying and there was an undercurrent of excitement as the hard-hat-clad workers hurried about their business.
David Lewis, PhD, Shifts Focus
In the 1990s and early 2000s, David Lewis, PhD, a microbiologist with U. S. EPA and the University of Georgia, was a vocal scientist in opposition to the use of biosolids (treated sewage sludge) on soils. His limited research addressed a few valid concerns, but was based on minimal direct observation and amounted to only a few papers in the thousands of published research papers on the topic. Yet it continues to be cited and has had impact reducing public support of effective biosolids recycling programs. Now, Dr. Lewis is back in the news for speaking out in defense of a discredited doctor in the UK.
Health Effects of Treated Sewage Sludge/Biosolids
New research report released...
In mid March, 2013, the University of North Carolina reported on research purportedly linking health effects to treated sewage sludge/biosolids land application in the Southeast. Many public wastewater treatment utility professionals and others managing biosolids are concerned about sensationalized news reports of this study.
Two Legal Victories in Defense of Biosolids: York County, PA • Kern County, CA
A York County, PA court has dismissed a legal case brought by neighbors against Synagro, a farmer, and a landowner regarding the use of biosolids on a 220-acre farm in New Freedom, PA. Meanwhile, a Court of Appeals in Fresno, CA supported an injunction against Kern County’s biosolids ban.
Microconstituents - Recent Research in the News
Notable research continues regarding pharmaceuticals, personal care product chemicals, nanoparticles, and other "microconstituents" in biosolids and what impacts, if any, they may have. NEBRA covered this topic in a May, 2011 Info Update.
The Challenges and Pleasures of Collecting Biogas Data
An inside story about the creation of www.biogasdata.org by NEBRA Project Assistant Maggie Finn...
Update: MA Organics Regulations & Policy
In November, the Massachusetts Dept. of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) promulgated updated final rules (310 CMR 16) intended to streamline the siting of moderate-sized anaerobic digesters and composting facilities...
National Biosolids Partnership - Changing....
The National Biosolids Partnership, administered by WEF, announced staffing changes in early January, 2013....
Rate of Biosolids Recycling Climbs in Quebec
U. S. Food & Drug Administration Challenges Antimicrobials
FDA Requesting triclosan (TCS) and triclorcarban (TCC) removal.
New laws restricting phosphorus (P) in fertilizers take effect in CT and NY; VT adopts new solid waste management law.
Massachusetts "Digester Day"& NEWEA's Energy Conference
Back-to-back events in May highlighted the continued interest in anaerobic digestion (AD) in this region.
Microconstituents / PPCPs / TORCs / EDCs...
Whatever we call them, interest in trace chemicals in wastewater, biosolids, and other organic residuals (e.g. manures) remains high. What is their fate? Do they have any impacts?
Biosolids Oversight Cuts in EPA 2013 Budget
The U. S. EPA Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance (OECA) released its draft budget in February, in which it calls for a further disinvestment in the biosolids program.
Land Applier Certification
New Study Guide now available from WEF.
Updated RI Biosolids Regulations Effective January 4, 2012
Rhode Island has new “Rules and Regulations for Sewage Sludge Management.” They replace regulations adopted in April 1997.
EPA Clarifies Parts of Boiler/Incinerator Rules
On December 2, 2011, U. S. EPA’s air office reopened some of the air emissions regulations affecting combustion of non-hazardous solid waste that had been finalized last March. The current action proposes some limited regulation revisions. Municipal sewage sludge incinerators (SSIs) are not affected by the December action; however, pulp and paper mill residuals are.
MA DEP Proposes New Organics Rules
MA DEP intends to increase the capacity for managing source-separated organics outside of landfills. The proposed new rules are intended to help.
Halifax Lifts Moratorium on Local Biosolids Use
Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) has received an independent, scientific review of its biosolids management program. At its meeting October 25th, the Council followed the report’s recommendations and lifted the 1-year moratorium on local use of biosolids in Halifax.
Report from the 6th Canadian Biosolids and Residuals Conference
This every-two-year conference draws biosolids expertise from across Canada. This year, it was staged in lovely Quebec City and thus involved many from ‘la belle province,' with simultaneous translation.
Moncton Sewerage Commission Deals with Scrutiny…. and Looks to the Future
A provincial auditor general’s report, released in mid-October, criticized the Greater Moncton Sewerage Commission (GMSC) for “spending too much on travel, communications” and other expenses it claims were not core to the Commission’s mission. GMSC has responded.
Update on Halifax Biosolids Discussion
The Nova Scotia media continue to cover biosolids....
NEBRA Project Updates
Over the years, NEBRA has had the good fortune of being involved in interesting research efforts. Projects we get involved in must be consistent with our mission: promoting the environmentally sound and publicly supported recycling of biosolids and other organic residuals. Current work advancing biogas utilization and environmental management systems for biosolids are right on target.
Anaerobic Digestion Research at Univ. of Mass.
Research at UMass Amherst has the potential to advance sustainability in wastewater treatment...
Canada Looks at Harmonized Biosolids Policy
The Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) is developing a policy statement for biosolids that is intended to "harmonize" the approaches used by the various provinces....
Insinkerator Provides Detailed LCA
In 2011, Insinkerator published a Life Cycle Assessment of various management options for food waste....
In Brief / En bref…
....short news bits from NEBRAMail, 12 October 2011:
Yale Research Advances Understanding of Biosolids Pathogen Risk
In recent years, Dr. Jordan Peccia’s research group at Yale University has been one of several focusing on pathogens in biosolids land application systems. In June 2011, a paper from the Peccia group was published in Environmental Science & Technology (ES&T).
Canadian TV Show Touts Human Waste Recycling
Quebec's Radio Canada show “109” ("cent-neuf") recently aired and produced a two-part documentary on the growing interest in using human waste for fertilizer and for energy.
What California Does with Biosolids
At the WEF Residuals and Biosolids Conference in Sacramento in May, 2011, Todd Jordan of Carollo Engineers and the CA Water Environment Association summarized biosolids management in the Golden State...
Research Shows Benefits of Saguenay Biosolids
Saguenay, Quebec has been land applying biosolids for 20 years, and research demonstrates its safety and benefits...
Quebec Updates Recycling Goals
Quebec has updated its recycling plan, which includes a ban on landfilling organics by 2020....
Brattleboro Upgrades = Class A & Energy
Brattleboro, VT is upgrading to Class A biosolids and combined heat & power (CHP)...
NH Biomass Plants Threatened
Wood-fired powerplants seeking fair pricing contracts...
Gilmanton, NH Rejects Biosolids Ban
Voters side with farmers...
U. S. EPA Defers GHG Tailoring Rule for Biomass
U. S. EPA proposes to exempt biogenic CO2 emissions from the Tailoring Rule for three years...
Saguenay, Québec Celebrates 20 Years of Biosolids Recycling
Biosolids utilization bears fruit....
EPA Finalizes New Rules Affecting Sewage Sludge Incinerators
On February 21, 2011, U. S. EPA finalized new Clean Air Act (CAA) regulations affecting sewage sludge incinerators (SSIs).
EPA Given One-Month Extension for Finalizing Sewage Sludge Incinerator Clean Air Rules
The U.S. District Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has granted EPA just one month, rather than more than a year, to finalize the sewage sludge incinerator rules...
Update on Research On Tracking Reported Incidents of Health Impacts from Biosolids
In July 2003, the Water Environment Research Foundation (WERF) "research summit" involving diverse stakeholders identified as a top priority the need to track and investigate reports of human health symptoms around biosolids land application sites....
Kern County, CA Continues to Debate Biosolids
At least as far back as 1999, Kern County has seen land application of biosolids from Los Angeles and other southern California urban centers....
More Research and Policy on Microconstituents
This topic has been a regular in NEBRAMail for several years (scroll down this page to see NEBRA coverage). Here are some recent (January 2011) findings....
EPA Seeks New Timetables for Finalizing Air Rules Affecting Sewage Sludge Incinerators
EPA has asked the DC District Court for an extension of the deadline to finalize the proposed Clean Air Act rules that would affect sewage sludge incinerators. As of December 29, 2010, the Court had not decided, and EPA staff were working hard to meet the current January 14, 2011 court-ordered deadline for finalizing the rules....
A Call for More Use of Human Excreta
Goal is to Address Peak Phosphorus Concerns....
A December 2010 report from the UK Soil Association urges mining P from wastewater.... Learn more about the report and see NEBRA's comments....
Another Nova Scotia Update
Discussion of biosolids continues in Nova Scotia....
Biosolids Rule Updates Planned in New England
At the 2010 North East Residuals and Biosolids Conference in November, state biosoilds coordinators from around New England discussed plans to update state biosolids/residuals regulations....
2010 Conference is History! - Except for Presentations Online!
The energy was high at this year’s annual northeast residuals conference....
LAWPCA Celebrates EMS!
On September 23rd, the Lewiston-Auburn Water Pollution Control Authority celebrated a couple of years of hard work on the part of the management and staff putting in place a biosolids Environmental Management System (EMS).
LAWPCA Advances Toward Digestion & CHP
At a meeting September 8th, the LAWPCA Board voted to move ahead with final design for anaerobic digesters and a combined heat and power (CHP) system at the local wastewater treatment facility.
EPA Tightens Rules for Sewage Sludge Incinerators
After proposing a rule that would define sewage sludge that is combusted as a “solid waste," U. S. EPA took the next expected step and proposed new air emission standards (MACT standards) for sewage sludge incinerators (SSI) in accordance with Section 129 of the Clean Air Act. More...
NH Nixes Troublesome Composting Bill
The New Hampshire House Environment & Agriculture Committee (E & A) voted 14 – 0 last week to not recommend a commercial (non-biosolids) composting bill (HB 1575) for legislation in the future.
Nova Scotia’s Biosolids Debate: An Update
Protests against the land application of biosolids continue in Nova Scotia, even as the Halifax biosolids land application program continues on many farms.
Trace Chemicals in Biosolids: WERF and Canadian Organizations Release Research Reviews
Several major reviews of the state of the science on trace chemicals (PPCPs, EDCs, TOrCs, etc.) in biosolids have been released recently.
More About Trace Contaminants / Microconstituents
Trace organics, PPCPs, EDCs, TORCs, microconstituents... Whatever you call them, there is a lot of research happening now.
Producing Phosphorus Fertilizer from Biosolids
The Ostara process to produce phosphorus fertilizer from biosolids received coverage by CNN recently.
Provincial Biosolids Coordinators Advance Canadian Biosolids Program
The biosolids coordinators of the provincial environment ministries across Canada have been working together on various projects since 2008.
Dr. David Lewis et al. Lose Another Case
On September 8, 2010, a federal trial court in Athens, Georgia dismissed a False Claims Act lawsuit brought against USEPA and University of Georgia biosolids researchers.
WEAO Peers Into the Future
The Water Environment Association of Ontario (WEAO) hosted a seminar October 1st and 2nd in Burlington, ON on "Managing Biosolids Beyond 2010." NEBRA's Ned Beecher joined Mike Van Ham of Sylvis and Marc Hébert of the Québec ministry in the lead-off panel presentation that looked at key drivers likely to impact biosolids management in Ontario (and elsewhere) in the coming decades. A critical assumption is that biosolids are resources that contain water, organic matter, nutrients, and energy - and that maximizing the productive uses of these constituents is important in reaching for sustainable biosolids management programs.
Meanwhile, Congress Moves on Safe Drug Disposal Act of 2010
This summer, Congress took some steps to make it easier for drug take-back programs to operate.
Researching Plant Uptake of Microconstituents
Two recent media reports cited studies that have found uptake by plants of traces of a few microconstituents found in biosolids.
Another NH Town Considers Regulating Biosolids
Last winter, biosolids was a topic of debate in the New Hampshire towns of Belmont and Deering. Now, Gilmanton, a neighbor to Belmont, is considering local regulation of biosolids.
Maine DEP Develops Odor Regulations
For two years, staff at the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) have been researching ways to measure odors from the variety of solid waste management operations the Department regulates, including biosolids treatment facilities and end use sites.
Addressing Microconstituents by Product Stewardship
As noted in related articles, microconstituents in biosolids continues to be a hot topic of research. That research is critical. But....
Fate and Significance of Microconstituents
The Water Environment Association of Ontario (WEAO) has just released a new literature review Assessing the Fate and Significance of Microconstituents and Pathogens in Sewage Biosolids - Update of the 2001 WEAO Report on Fate and Significance.
Climate Registry Updates Local Government Operations Protocol
The Local Governmnet Operations Protocol, which provides guidance on inventorying greenhouse gas emissions, has been updated by The Climate Registry.
Composting Council of Canada Celebrates 20 Years!
The Composting Council of Canada is 20!
ME and RI Consider Changes to Biosolids Regulations
Maine and Rhode Island are beginning to plan some revisions to their biosolids regulations.
LAWPCA: 1st Public Agency in New England Certified for EMS
On July 14th, the NBP announced that the Lewiston-Auburn Water Pollution Control Authority (LAWPCA) has been certified for its biosolids EMS.
U. S. Supreme Court Denies L.A. Request for Review
In a June 1 order, the U. S. Supreme Court denied a petition for the Court to review the case of Los Angeles et al. v. Kern County et al.
News from the WEF Residuals & Biosolids Conference
Savannah was hot, with some sudden squalls, during the WEF annual Residuals and Biosolids Conference last week. More than 600 attendees were attracted by the conference focus on bioenergy, especially that from anaerobic digestion, which dominated the conference sessions (more than half addressed this topic), workshops, and meetings....
EPA Finalizes GHG Tailoring Rule
EPA has taken its second major step in regulating greenhouse gases (GHGs) as pollutants....
Drug Disposal – What’s the Right Message?
Now there is more information available regarding the disposal of pharmaceuticals...
Vancouver Olympics Helped by Wastewater Resources
Biosolids and wastewater - just tools in the sustainability toolbox...
RMI Celebrates EMS Certification
The 2nd organization in the region - and first in New Hampshire - to have its EMS certified by independent audit!
New England Organics Hawk Ridge Composting Facility Achieves NBP Platinum Level EMS Status
Going platinum on biosolids Environmental Management System (EMS)...
Two NH Towns Ban Biosolids
At town meetings in March, two New Hampshire towns decided whether or not to allow local farmers to use biosolids.
Another Quebec Town Bans Biosolids
First Elgin, now...
Biosolids Debate Increases in Nova Scotia
“Environment Minister Sterling Belliveau on Thursday [April 8] attempted to allay public fears over using biosolids to fertilize farmland in the province,” according to the Chronicle Herald of Halifax.
Regional Biosolids Associations Support San Francisco Compost Program
(in part from NBMA)
Information on Microconstituents (PPCPs, EDCs) Increases
Research results are beginning to come in more quickly now regarding the presence and fate of microconstituents in wastewater and biosolids.
Kern County Case May Reach Supreme Court
Update on the ongoing legal dispute over Kern County's proposed ban on biosolids recycling...
NB Organics Management Company Envirem Survives
As Atcon, one of New Brunswick's largest home-grown conglomerates fell into bankruptcy this past winter, all Atcon companies except one have been placed in receivership by a Miramichi court.
More Halifax Biosolids This Summer
An update from a visit to the NViro facility at Halifax by Ned Beecher.
NH Legislative Committee Puts Compost Bill on Hold
A restrictive NH composting bill will have further study.
San Francisco Compost Criticized; NEBRA Responds
Late last year, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) was criticized by the Center for Food Safety (CFS) for its biosolids compost give-away program. Because of the importance of biosolids composting programs in the northeast, NEBRA paid attention...
Op-Ed: More Information About Biosolids For Belmont
In mid-December, discussion heated up in Belmont, NH regarding the use of biosolids on farmland.
Nova Scotia Adopts More Stringent Biosolids Guidelines
In a late summer news release, the Nova Scotia Department of Environment announced stricter guidelines for the land-application and storage of municipal biosolids....
Ontario Adopts New Rules For Non-Agricultural Residuals
On September 18, 2009, the Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs jointly announced new rules and guidelines for applying non-agricultural source materials (NASM) to farmland. Changes to the management of non-agricultural source materials are designed to strengthen the rules and remove overlapping approval processes for farmers and generators of NASM. The new rules establish consistent standards and requirements across the province which focus on the quality of the material being land-applied, ensuring it meets strict criteria and is beneficial to the soil. The revised regulations will cover all Ontario farms where non-agricultural source material will be applied. NASM includes yard waste, fruit and vegetable peels, food processing waste, pulp and paper biosolids and sewage biosolids.
EPA Proposes Waste Energy Recovery Registry
U. S. EPA is proposing to create a volunteer Registry of Recoverable Waste Energy Sources that will help identify and prioritize development of these potential energy sources. Wastewater treatment facilities with un- or under-utilized digester gas or heat from incineration are potential energy sources that could be identified in the Registry, if they choose to be. Being part of the Registry may lead to the ability to participate in government incentives aimed at getting these renewable energy sources online.
EPA May Define Sewage Sludge/Biosolids as a Solid Waste
The U. S. EPA Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery (ORCR) – once known as the Office of Solid Waste – is in the process of defining sewage sludge and biosolids as a solid waste – at least in some instances. If the proposed change in definition is adopted – which now seems likely – the Office of Air and Radiation will likely begin regulating sewage sludge incinerators (SSIs) under the Clean Air Act (CAA) Section 129, rather than Section 112. Section 129 applies to all materials defined as solid wastes.
USDA Proposes Biobased Product Consumer Label Rule
On July 31st, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is making it easier for consumers to identify biobased products through the release of its proposed BioPreferredSM labeling rule. USDA's BioPreferred labeling program, published in the Federal Register, intends to create a product label that would appear on qualifying BioPreferred biobased products. Some biosolids products may be able to participate in this new program.
Additional perspective on using biosolids in Nova Scotia
There has been ongoing discussion of biosolids use on soils in Nova Scotia. Several commentaries back and forth, including one from Dr. Murray McBride of Cornell Waste Management Institute, triggered a response Op-Ed piece submitted to The Chronicle Herald (Halifax) by Ned Beecher of NEBRA.
Nantucket Composting Operation Is First CCX Composting Carbon Emissions Offset Project
In April, CCX approved the first composting project under a new greenhouse gas emissions accounting protocol for projects that divert rapidly decomposing organic materials from landfills. The project was the Waste Options composting operation on Nantucket Island, Massachusetts....
Maine DEP: Gravel Pit Reclamation Project Very Unlikely To Have Impacted Neighbors’ Wells
This spring, in East Sangerville, ME, a gravel pit reclamation project was blamed as a potential contributor to complaints of illness amongst neighbors. Residents of several area homes claim they share similar symptoms of “memory problems and muscle disorders” and believe the gravel pit reclamation may have been the cause, according to articles in the Bangor Daily News.
The 8-acre Barrett gravel pit reclamation project was conducted by New England Organics in the late 1990s, using paper mill residuals, ash, and biosolids. Initial monitoring at the time revealed release of some pollutants to groundwater, notably arsenic from the native soil and nitrate, but not at dangerous levels. Continued monitoring into 2006 documented the return toward normal groundwater quality.
This spring, when concerns were raised by area residents, ME DEP had independent testing done on area well water. Nothing unusual was found: the groundwater meets drinking water standards and has for several years. Regarding the possibility that harm may have been caused by elevated nitrate or arsenic levels documented by past tests, DEP and other scientists stated clearly that “there is no likely groundwater pathway.” The shallow groundwater from under the reclamation site flows toward – “and likely discharges into” – a small brook that flows between the gravel pit and most area homes.
Ontario Proposes Regulation Change for Use of Biosolids and Other Residuals on Farms
The Ontario Ministry of Environment (MOE) and the Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) have proposed amendments to the General Nutrient Management Regulation (O. Reg. 267/03), under the Nutrient Management Act, for the management of non-agricultural source materials (NASM). The intention is to improve the regulatory framework governing the application of NASM on agricultural land. This initiative proposes to manage biosolids as a NASM (nutrient source) under the NMA instead of as waste under the Environmental Protection Act.
Reminder: You Can Now Become an ABC-Certified Biosolids Land Applier
(from the Association of Boards of Certification)
The biosolids land application (BLA) certification program developed by the Association of Boards of Certification (ABC) was highlighted at the 2009 WEF Residuals and Biosolids Conference this spring in Portland, OR. The certification helps ensure protection of public health and the environment through certification and demonstrates professionalism and competency of industry professionals (http://www.abccert.org/abc_certification_program/biosolids_land_applier.asp).
ABC, a non-profit organization established in 1972, is comprised of almost 100 member-certifying authorities from across the globe and works to advance water quality and integrity through certification. According to Suzanne De la Cruz, Chief Operating Officer, ABC’s biosolids certification program is unique to the industry. Although all states in the U.S. have a certification or licensing program for wastewater treatment operators, only a few states offer land applier certification, she said. “Our program is among the first to provide this mechanism for individuals to demonstrate expertise in the field through certification, as their colleagues in wastewater treatment have done through state regulatory boards.”
During the development phase, ABC conducted a national job analysis of land appliers to identify essential job tasks performed by land appliers and the capabilities required to competently perform job tasks. We used the results of the job analysis as the foundation for the development of valid land application certification exams, said De la Cruz. The Need-to-Know Criteria (http://www.abccert.org/testing_services/need_to_know_criteria.asp), contains the results of the analysis and is available for certification programs and trainers to help prepare land appliers for certification.
In order to be certified by ABC, a land applier must meet specific education, experience, and examination requirements for the level of which they are applying. Two levels of ABC certification are available:
Class I - Covers knowledge and skills required for field operators
Class II - Focuses on knowledge and skills required for managers
De la Cruz explains that in addition to meeting established requirements, examinees must pass an exam with a score of 70 percent or higher. Testing options are flexible and exams can be administered nationally and internationally. Contact ABC or NEBRA for further information.
Perfluorochemicals of Concern at Biosolids Land Application Site in Alabama
Last fall, perfluorochemicals (PFCs) were detected in Alabama agricultural soils that had received biosolids applications for the past dozen years. These chemicals are used in fire-fighting foams, personal care and cleaning products, and repellant coatings on carpets, textiles, leather, and paper. US EPA and state regulatory authorities have responded with a thorough investigation and abundant communications with area communities...
New BNQ Standards for Biosolids
The BNQ (Bureau de normalization du Québec) recently published new standards for municipal biosolids. Two types of advanced treatment biosolids can now be certified: advanced alkaline biosolids and heat dried biosolids. There is already a BNQ quality standard for composted biosolids. BNQ standards are relied on throughout Canada. Under Québec regulations, any biosolids certified by BNQ can be applied to any crop – including home gardens – without a certificate of approval. The new biosolids BNQ standards address disinfection; levels of trace elements (metals), dioxins, and furans; product labeling; and recommendations for agronomic uses. The development of this standard required 3 years of work by a committee of volunteers led by Sylvain Allard of the BNQ and supported with funds from the Québec environment ministry and RECYC-Québec. The standard can be purchased online, in French, for Can $74, at http://www-es.criq.qc.ca/pls/owa_es/bnqw_norme.detail_norme?p_lang=en&p_id_norm=12439&p_code_menu=NORME.
New England Organics EMS is Certified by National Biosolids Partnership
Earlier this year, NEBRA member New England Organics (NEO) achieved two firsts in biosolids management. When the National Biosolids Partnership certified the company’s Hawk Ridge Composting Facility’s Environmental Management System (EMS), it became the first private operation to achieve this honor and the first in New England. As noted in the National Biosolids Partnership announcement: “As the 24th wastewater agency certified and admitted into the NBP EMS program and first in Maine, New England Organics’ achievement recognizes that the agency has been independently verified as having an effective biosolids environmental management system” (http://www.biosolids.org/news.asp?id=2138).
NEO began its work on EMS in early 2007, as part of a New England class of six, including Erving MA, Mechanic Falls ME, Lewiston-Auburn ME, Soil Preparation Inc. (ME), and Resource Management Inc. (NH). With top management support, Mary Waring and Ann Thayer led the internal EMS effort at NEO, working closely with Hawk Ridge Compost Facility manager George Belmont, compost sales staff, and others throughout the organization. A National Biosolids Partnership certified independent audit team from KEMA-Registered Quality, Inc. conducted the on-site audit on January 5 – 7, 2009.
The EMS for biosolids is a program entered into voluntarily. It focuses on critical control points within the biosolids production, treatment, and end use “value chain.” Critical control points are parts of the process where the quality of the end product and/or compliance and/or public acceptance will be adversely affected if things are not done right. An EMS program helps an organization prioritize its actions, reaching above and beyond mere compliance. It helps avoid “dumb mistakes.” As noted in an NEO news release, “it is a continual cycle of planning, implementing, reviewing and improving environmental and health & safety processes which an organization undertakes to meet its business and environmental goals.”
The rest of the New England EMS class are in different stages of developing their EMS programs, and most are close to seeking certification through an independent audit. NEBRA has assisted this class of EMS participants and encourages other members to call on NEBRA for assistance in entering the program and building their own EMS. Contact the NEBRA office for details.
Moncton Compost Certified by BNQ
(with information from the Québec Environment Ministry (MDDEP)
The Greater Moncton Sewerage Commission – a member of NEBRA – is receiving certification by the Bureau de normalization du Québec (BNQ) for the quality of its compost. This Type A compost is called “Gardener’s Gold.” It becomes the first compost certified by BNQ in New Brunswick and conforms to the voluntary Canadian compost standards of 2005. Congratulations to the Moncton team! Hopefully other Canadian municipalities will choose to seek independent certification through the BNQ. GMSC compost is produced from primary solids composted with fine wood waste in aerated windrows covered by Gore fabric. A unique aspect of the operation is the recovery of heat from beneath the compost piles.
The Stamford Waste-to-Energy Project
Driven in part by the growing interest in renewable sources of energy, the Stamford Water Pollution Control Authority (SWPCA) is several years into the design and phase-in of what would be the nation’s first full-scale biosolids gasification project.
The first phase of the project, according to a conference presentation by SWPCA’s Jeannette Brown and other project engineers, was the building of a solids drying facility that is now producing biosolids pellets. The next phase, funded by a $1.5 million grant from the U. S. Department of Energy and an equal sum from the city, has been the construction and operation of a pilot gasification system, which has produced a synthetic gas useable in an internal combustion engine. Now the team is in the facility design stage and is working on obtaining funding needed for the full-scale operation, some $60 million if a 15 MW plant is constructed (a smaller, 10 MW plant is also being discussed). The energy produced will be used to run the Stamford wastewater facility, with the excess – as much as 90% of what is generated, according to the project proponents – sold into the electric grid.
On February 4th, Jeannette Brown testified before the Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure of the U. S. House of Representatives. Her message, on behalf of the Water Environment Federation, was to help the committee “identify ways to mitigate this [energy] consumption by exploring energy efficient technologies and operations (http://www.wef.org/NewsCenter/02042009.htm).” She described the Stamford project and others as examples of wastewater treatment professionals working to advance energy efficiency and production.
After more than two years of reporting and discussion of the Stamford waste-to-energy project, there is now considerable excitement as construction approaches; it could begin later this year. However, there are some questions about the total net energy benefit and the costs involved (possibly $40 million of local bond funding), according to a late March Stamford Advocate article. For more details about the project, see http://www.stamfordbiogas.com.
New Halifax Wastewater Treatment Plant Shuts Down Due to Technical Problems
Equipment failure in January caused extensive flooding and damage to the Harbour Solutions Project’s Upper Water Street wastewater treatment facility in Halifax. The plant is one of three new facilities being built around Halifax harbor. They aim to eliminate raw sewage discharges for which Nova Scotia’s largest city has been infamous for years. The Upper Water Street plant began operations amidst much fanfare in 2008. There are ongoing investigations into the cause of the malfunction and negotiations on who will pay the estimated $55 million for the cleanup and repairs. It is estimated that the plant will not be functional again for another year. For more details, see http://thechronicleherald.ca/Front/1116645.html.
As the new Halifax wastewater treatment facilities come online, the solids generated are being transported to the Aerotech Park outside the city, for processing via an advanced alkaline stabilization process operated by N-Viro Canada. The biosolids are trucked to farms for use as a liming agent and soil amendment. With the increase in biosolids production, there has been additional public concern showing up in media reports. For example, a March 23rd Chronicle Herald article described odor issues.
Earlier this decade, the environment ministry placed a moratorium on biosolids land application in Nova Scotia, due to public concerns. Following public meetings and consultations, new stricter guidelines were adopted, and biosolids are in use again.
US EPA Releases Draft Rule for GHG Reporting
The US EPA released a draft rule for mandatory greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reporting on March 10, 2009. With the release of the draft rule, EPA has taken a first step towards mandatory reporting of GHG emissions. As proposed, the EPA draft rule would place new mandatory reporting requirements on major source facilities operating in the US to report their GHG emissions. The new requirements would apply to suppliers of fossil fuel and industrial chemicals, manufacturers of motor vehicles and engines, as well as large direct emitters of GHGs with direct emissions equal to or greater than a threshold of 25,000 metric tons of CO2e per year. Other sources covered under the rule include: cement production, iron and steel production, electricity generation, landfills, and wastewater treatment among others. According to EPA, approximately 13,000 facilities would be covered under the proposal. The first annual emissions report would be due to EPA in 2011 for the calendar year 2010.
What’s The Latest in the Debate on Biosolids Recycling to Soils?
The beginning of this article appeared in the Spring 2009 NEWEA Journal. This leads to further information...
Virginia Expert Panel Final Report Does Not Shake Things Up
In response to ongoing controversy in several parts of the state, two years ago the Virginia legislature created an expert panel to evaluate biosolids use on land. Now, the panel has released its final report...
EPA Releases Latest National Sewage Sludge Survey Results
Last week, the EPA Office of Water made available the results of the latest targeted national sewage sludge survey.
Maine Advances Pharmaceutical Return Program
A Maine law, passed in 2005, has led to the nation’s first comprehensive, hassle-free pharmaceutical return program.
News From the 2008 MABA Annual Conference
The latest news from the biosolids regional association to our south, including access to some excellent presentations...
News From the 2008 North East Conference
It was another informative assembly of this region's biosolids and residuals professionals...
NH Legislative Study Commission Final Report
Another New Hampshire legislative study commission supports current sewage, septage, and biosolids managment practices; calls for continued state grant aid funding and including biosolids in renewable fuel standards...
Book Review: The Big Necessity by Rose George
George describes Japanese toilets that precisely clean your backside as you finish; her impressions of going into London and New York sewers; stories of the need for public latrines in China, India, the U. S., and Britain; and the fact that 2.6 billion of the world’s people have no access to adequate sanitation, which causes widespread sickness and death. And she spends a chapter on the U. S. biosolids debate...
Celebrating Clean Water for 40 Years - Bangor WWTP Open House
by Brad Moore, Superintendent, Bangor WWTP
UN-HABITAT Publishes "Global Atlas of Excreta, Wastewater Sludge, and Biosolids Management"
"It is crystal clear that, in addition to clean air, the well-being of our planet also requires that water, wastewater and the resulting biosolids (sludge) need to be managed more seriously, and in a focused, coordinated and cooperative manner."
Clean Water Tours Increase Understanding
"I didn't realize how complicated this is," said one tour participant. "It's kind of gross, but it's fascinating." As part of a series of open houses at wastewater treatment facilities around New England, participants are seeing sewage converted to clean water, useful biosolids, and just plain air.
CELEBRATE CLEAN WATER: Wastewater and Biosolids Management Open Houses & Tours
The United Nations has declared 2008 "The International Year of Sanitation." Here in North America, many people take for granted toilets and wastewater treatment infrastructure. Elsewhere, there are 2.6 billion people without adequate access to sanitation. In recognition of what we have, tours and open houses are being offered this September at wastewater treatment facilities and biosolids programs around New England.
U. S. Senate Environment Committee Cancels Biosolids Hearing, Then Briefing
Since the spring, the U. S. Senate's Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), chaired by California Senator Barbara Boxer, has been considering holding a public hearing on biosolids recycling to land and related U. S. EPA policy. Earlier this month, a date for the hearing was announced on the website "sludgenews.org," a relatively new website created by the Resource Institute for Low Entropy Systems (RILES), but was never formally announced by the EPW.
Halifax Harbor Finally Gets Treatment
In mid-February, a Chronicle Herald article reported the start-up of a new Halifax Regional Municipality wastewater treatment plant, which aims to allow clean-up of the world's second largest natural harbor (after Sydney, Australia) "'Halifax Harbour is already on its way to becoming a healthy and environmentally friendly asset for the city,' Mayor Peter Kelly said.... "I've seen a difference over the last few weeks,' Mr. Kelly after a formal announcement to open the new Halifax sewage treatment plant on Upper Water Street.... [T]he effects are already quite dramatic, the mayor says.
Associated Press Corrects Its Story About Baltimore Biosolids Compost Research
On Friday the 13th of June, the Associated Press (AP) released a new story regarding biosolids. This new AP biosolids story is a significant retraction of the previous overzealous reporting of AP reporters John Heilprin and Kevin Vineys.
Associated Press Publishes Additional Biosolids Stories
On April 13, 2008, the Associated Press (AP) released two news stories relating to biosolids (sewage sludge) management. A third story was released April 15th; it was a follow-on to the other two stories, and it noted that the U. S. Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works will conduct a hearing on biosolids before the end of summer, 2008, according to Committee Chair Sen. Barbara Boxer. The AP stories were printed in major and minor newspapers and related news websites around the country (see links, below).
NEBRA Response to NPR Interviews with John Heilprin and Dr. Michael Klag
We appreciate the National Public Radio (NPR) coverage of recent Associated Press (AP) stories on the use of biosolids compost (4/24/08, http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=89915590). As AP reporter John Heilprin noted in the NPR interview, he and his colleague Kevin Vineys have conducted interviews and investigations about biosolids management in the U. S. for the past year. As Executive Director of a regional association of biosolids management professionals - many of whom are public employees - I welcomed Mr. Heilprin's interest and was interviewed last July. I was one of many involved in biosolids management whom he and Mr. Vineys interviewed; others included public wastewater treatment facility managers, regulatory officials, and research scientists.
NEBRA Releases Greenhouse Gas Comparative Analysis
The North East Biosolids and Residuals Association (NEBRA) is focusing increasing time and attention on the greenhouse gas emissions impacts of managing biosolids and other residuals.
AP Story About a Georgia Court Decision
On February 25th, a federal court in Georgia directed the U. S. Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) to grant an Augusta-area dairy farm's application for prevented planting credits. The farm is one of two that have claimed harm from City of Augusta biosolids applied to their land in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Murray McBride Takes the Lead at Cornell Waste Management Institute
The Cornell Waste Management Institute (CWMI), part of the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell University, announced in January the retirement of Ellen Harrison, MS after more than 20 years at the Institute.
Ongoing Interest in PPCPs in Wastewater & Biosolids
For the past decade, scientific and public interest has been growing regarding the presence of trace amounts of pharmaceutical and personal care products (PPCPs) in the environment. In March, the Associated Press (AP) published news stories on the topic, stimulating another round of attention. The AP stories presented summarized results from studies around the U. S. and the world, almost all of which related to the presence of pharmaceuticals in surface waters and/or aquatic organisms. Impacts, such as feminization of fish, were emphasized: "'It's inescapable,' said Sudeep Chandra, an assistant professor at University of Nevada, Reno who studies inland waters and aquatic life. 'There's enough global information now to confirm these contaminants are affecting organisms and wildlife.'"
Highlights from the WEF Residuals & Biosolids Conference in Philadelphia
Climate change, greenhouse gas emissions accounting, and energy concerns were hot topics at this year's annual WEF Residuals and Biosolids Specialty Conference held March 29 - April 1 in Philadelphia (Jeff Leblanc of WeCare, conference chair). Beginning with a Sunday morning workshop "Giving Residuals & Biosolids Reuse the Carbon Credit They Deserve" that drew more than 60 paying attendees and ending with the second of two sessions on "Sustainability" on Wednesday, it was clear that these have become major topics. New Englanders speaking about all this included Charlie Alix of MWH, who organized and moderated the opening workshop, Ned Beecher (NEBRA), Jeannette Brown (Stamford WPCA), and Mark Gould (CDM).
Tabou(e), a Documentary Concerned About Biosolids, Airs in Quebec
(English version, released later in 2006, is called "Sludge Diet.") by Marc Hébert and Ned Beecher, from NEBRA News, May 2006.
2007 was a notable year for advancing the recycling of biosolids and other residuals.
New England Legislation Peripherally Affecting Biosolids and Residuals
New England state legislators - even New Hampshire's - appear not to be addressing biosolids and residuals directly this year. But there are two bills that may involve biosolids and other residuals. In Vermont, a sweeping bill regarding "conservation, energy independence, and economic prosperity" (S. 350) would create carbon inventory and nutrient management systems; it includes mention of biosolids as one of many residuals that, when applied to soils, help sequester carbon. New Hampshire is working on a waste reduction, recycling, and recycled products purchasing bill (HB 877) that may encourage state agencies to utilize biosolids and residuals. Meanwhile, the NH legislature's HB 699 study commission will continue looking at how "sewage, sludge, and septage" are managed; their final report is due November 1.
New England Organics Receives Grant for Anaerobic Digestion Feasibility Study
Massachusetts Senator Richard T. Moore, (D-Uxbridge) is pleased to report that the New England Organics (NEO) Southbridge facility, a division of Casella Waste Systems, has been awarded a $40,000 Feasibility Grant from the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative's (MTC) Renewable Energy Trust (the Trust). The grant is one of many offered by MTC as part of their Large Onsite Renewables Initiative to expand the production and use of renewable energy technologies in Massachusetts. NEO will use the grant to conduct a feasibility study to assess a proposed 1000 kW anaerobic digestion CHP facility at their parent company's land site in Southbridge. "We have a unique opportunity at Casella's environmental complex in Southbridge.... Creating energy from food waste, wastewater biosolids and grease trap wastes will give new life to resources that are often otherwise considered 'dead-end,'" said Jay Kilbourn the Project Manager for New England Organics. "The opportunity to explore the production of renewable energy from waste is not only environmentally important, but represents economic opportunities ranging from local business development to national energy independence." MTC is the state's development agency for renewable energy and the innovation economy, which is responsible for one-quarter of all jobs in the state. MTC is also the administrator of the Trust, which pioneers and promotes clean energy technologies and strives to make the Commonwealth greener. The Trust works toward this goal by providing financial assistance to individuals and businesses for solar panels and wind turbines at their homes and facilities, working with communities to incorporate green design into schools, and helping emerging clean energy businesses flourish in the Commonwealth. For more information on MTC and the Trust, go to www.mtpc.org
Update on New Hampshire Legislative Commission on Sewage, Solids, & Septage
(from New Hampshire Water Pollution Control Association - NHWPCA)
On October 25, 2007, representatives of the NHWPCA Legislative and Regulatory Affairs Committee presented information to the HB 699 Commission - a legislative commission convened to study management options for sewage, wastewater solids, and septage. Joe Ducharme (Turner Group) and Shelagh Connelly (Resource Management, Inc.) presented members of the Commission with a slide show that was developed with input from NEBRA and additional help from Mike Trainque (HTA). Soon after that meeting, the Commission submitted an interim report about their progress to date. They still have much to review, and they will continue to meet monthly for the coming year.
"Sludge" or "Biosolids"? Official Usage of the Term "Biosolids"
What makes "biosolids" different from "sludge." This information update provides some history and official definitions of the word "biosolids" from around the United States.
The Best Biosolids - Tip for the Trade
Biosolids programs around the continent should be sure to learn from last summer's Milwaukee solids management mishap and a few other similar scattered events over the years.
Moving Forward Wastewater Biosolids Sustainability
Highlights of the IWA World Biosolids Conference, Moncton, NB, June 2007
Prince Edward Island compost dispute
According to CBC news, "a five-year dispute between the two engineering companies involved in the building and designing of P.E.I.'s central composting facility finally made it to court.... The central question in the dispute is whether the $17.5-million facility is working properly, and whose fault it is if it isn't. In claims and counter-claims, the two companies are suing each other for millions of dollars. ADI, the company that won the contract to build the P.E.I. government facility, is suing WCI, the company that designed it. ADI claims that the facility as designed couldn't produce the quality of compost required. But WCI says it could have fixed the problem, and is suing for being terminated before it was given a chance. WCI's lawyer, John Mitchell, contends the plant is still producing lower-grade "Category B" compost as a result. (from CBC news http://www.cbc.ca/canada/prince-edward-island/story/2007/10/10/compost-trial.html; appreciation to MDDEP for forwarding this item)
NEBRA Response to Film "Sludge Diet" ("Tabou(e)!")
The film Tabou(e)! is a professional documentary made in Québec by Mario Desmarais about the agricultural use of treated municipal sewage sludge, or biosolids. It was televised on April 20, 2006, by Télé-Québec, and has had occasional public showings around the province since then.
New U. S. EPA Procurement Rule Encourages Use of Biosolids and Manure Composts
In the September 14th Federal Register, U. S. EPA issued a final rule that revises the list of items designated in the Comprehensive Procurement Guidelines (CPG), which are intended to promote the use of materials recovered from solid waste. From the U.S. EPA summary regarding this action:
Vermont Update: Biosolids Recycling Rate Drops, Wood Ash Regulated
Early in the year, NEBRA reported on significant changes in biosolids management in Vermont. With increased volumes of wastewater solids coming into Quebec from Toronto, the management of Chittenden County, VT biosolids in la belle province came to an end. Since then, New England Organics and parent company Casella have been sending northwest Vermont's solids to landfills.
Kern County, CA Appeals Overturning of Biosolids Ordinance
According to the Bakersfield Californian (8/21/07), "Kern County will appeal a recent U.S. District Court decision that overturned Measure E, Kern County's anti-sludge spreading ordinance.... Measure E was approved in June 2006 by a majority of county voters. It bans the land application of treated human and industrial waste on farmland.... The city of Los Angeles, which spreads the majority of its sewage sludge on land at the Green Acres farm in Kern County, sued Kern County to overturn the ordinance. U.S. District Court judge Gary Feess ruled, this month, that the Kern County ordinance violated federal commerce laws. He overturned the ordinance. Maben said the county "remains committed to upholding the will of the people and protecting our vital resources. "Funding for the continuing legal battle, Maben said, has already been approved by supervisors and budgeted by the county."
World Biosolids Conference Comes to North America
The International Water Association (IWA) held its Specialist Conference on Biosolids June 24 - 27, 2007 in Moncton New Brunswick, Canada. The conference, organized by the Greater Moncton Sewerage Commission (GMSC), was titled Moving Forward Wastewater Biosolids Sustainability: Technical Managerial and Public Synergy.
GMSC Compost Facility - Working Towards a Sustainable Future
The Greater Moncton Sewerage Commission (GMSC) has recently purchased over 300 acres of land 10 kilometers from their wastewater treatment facility and begun composting the 11,000 wet tons of biosolids produced each year at the Riverview Wastewater Treatment Facility (WWTF). Previous to the composting operation, GMSC created lime stabilized class B biosolids as part of a land application contract.
Maine Farm Subjected to Enforcement Under New Federal CAFO Regulations
According to the July 23rd Bangor Daily News, a federal judge has found a Bangor area farmer in contempt of court for not cleaning up operations that are polluting a stream with manure and associated wastewater. Country Acres, Inc., in Dixmont, failed to follow through on an agreed upon action plan to stem manure leaks from a lagoon and run-off from a manure pile. Fines of up to $2,000 a day are possible, and violating the consent order could cost $32,000. The farmer has stated that he has no resources to complete the required clean-up. According to the Daily News, "Country Acres was the first farm in Maine to be regulated by the federal government as a 'concentrated animal feeding operation,' or CAFO. In March, the farm housed between 250 and 300 cows and had planned to expand to 800 animals later this year."
NEBRA Well Represented at IWA Biosolids Conference
NEBRA staff, as well as several members, participated in this year's International Water Association world biosolids conference in Moncton, New Brunswick. NEBRA co-authored two papers, one by Ned Beecher titled A Vision and A Voice for Biosolids Recycling in North East America, and the other presented by Nora Goldstein of BioCycle titled Invest in the Social Aspects of Biosolids. Three other NEBRA members also presented: Andrew Carpenter of Northern Tilth, Marc Hébert from the Ministry of Environment, Quebec, and John Peckenham from the University of Maine in Orono. Marc Hébert also co-authored a poster featured at the conference. NEBRA had a table-top display that received many visitors. Also, present at the conference were Kristy Crawford with NEBRA, Carl Pawlowski from MA Water Resources Authority, and Jamie Ecker and Ann Thayer from New England Organics.
NH Opens Rulemaking on Biosolids Regulations
This past summer, the NH Department of Environmental Services (DES) proposed an update to the NH biosolids/sewage sludge management regulations, Env-Ws 800, which are due to expire in March of 2007. The proposed rule change aims to..
NH Policy of Charging Different Rates for Septage From Towns With Biosolids Bans Is Challenged
The Franklin, NH wastewater treatment facility has raised its fees for septage disposal for septage from New Hampshire towns that have ordinances banning or severely restricting the use of biosolids. The Franklin facility is part of the Winnepesaukee River Basin Project (WRBP).
Vermont Begins Biosolids Rulemaking
Vermont has a progressive Solid Waste Management Plan, adopted in 2001, that encourages the beneficial use of biosolids. It requires municipalities to be responsible for the management of biosolids and septage in conformance with the State plan. Goals of the Plan include "managing 75% of the biosolids generated in Vermont through beneficial use" - a goal that has been met for many years. In addition, the Plan urges the Agency of Natural Resources (ANR) and municipalities to "identify and address any barriers to the safe and affordable beneficial use of biosolids." One such step taken by the state in recent years was to impose a tax on each wet ton of biosolids destined for disposal at a landfill or incinerator. According to Ernie Kelley of the residuals management section at the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), municipalities and solid waste districts are still completing their local plans and having them reviewed by the state, even as another every-five-year renewal of the state Plan is due.
Los Angeles and Other Plaintiffs Are Supported By Court
According to a late October press release from the City of Los Angeles: "A federal judge in Los Angeles rejected a significant portion of Kern County's motion to dismiss a lawsuit challenging its ban on land application of biosolids.... The ruling clears the way for a motion by the City and its allies asking the court to stay the ban and allow land application of biosolids to continue while the case is heard. As of now, the ban goes into effect in early 2007. Judge Feess will hear the Plaintiffs' request for a preliminary injunction on November 13.... The ruling is the court's first major decision on the lawsuit, which was filed in August by the City of Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts, Orange County Sanitation District, and farmers and businesses that work with biosolids. The lawsuit seeks to overturn a ballot initiative passed by Kern County voters in June that barred the Plaintiffs from recycling biosolids at two farm sites in Kern County, including a 5,000 acre farm owned by the City of Los Angeles."
New NH DES Commissioner Burack Signs Biosolids Rules
On January 19th, New Hampshire Dept. of Environmental Services Commissioner Thomas Burack, who took office in November, gave approval to the new Env-Wq 800 regulations proposed by the Department last summer. The existing Env-Ws 800 regulations are due to expire in mid-March. Commissioner Burack conducted a thoughtful review of the rules and the biosolids management issue, meeting with NEBRA members and representatives of opposing viewpoints in December and January. The new rules must still be reviewed by the Joint Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR), which is expected to address them at its late February meeting. In the meantime, NH DES staff are working on posting, on the NH DES website, public comments received about the rules and Department responses.
NEIWPCC Guide to Biosolids Sampling
The biosolids work group of the New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission (NEIWPCC) has released The Wastewater Treatment Plant Operator's Guide to Biosolids Sampling Plans. Developed by a team led by Michael Rainey of NH DES and Mike Jennings of NEIWPCC, with input from the region's state biosolids coordinators and technical advisors from around the country, the Guide provides details on how to create a sampling protocol, how to collect biosolids samples, and how to be a good consumer of biosolids testing services - for example, what questions to ask a testing lab to ensure quality data that will meet compliance needs. Notebook copies of the Guide are available for a small cost from NEIWPCC (www.neiwpcc.org); a PDF version can be downloaded from there.
Winnipesaukee River Basin Program Awarded Funding to Evaluate Regional Septage Treatment
The state-owned Department of Environmental Services (DES) wastewater treatment facility (WWTF) at Franklin, NH, is taking a lead in helping address the need for in-state septage treatment options. A quarter of New Hampshire's septage is hauled to out-of-state WWTFs, and, with 70% of new housing relying on septic systems, the volume of septage to manage is only increasing.
Brunswick, ME Biosolids Ban Annulled by Court
Use of Class A biosolids compost will likely continue as part of the maintenance of parks and sports fields administered by the Town of Brunswick, Maine. On May 29th, Justice Robert Crowley of the Cumberland County Superior Court ruled that applicable portions of a local ordinance adopted by voters in November, 2006, are preempted by state law and regulation.
Congratulations Honored New Englanders!
The New England Water Environment Association (NEWEA) was honored by WEF for outstanding achievement in the following areas: membership retention, financial strength, and scholarship programs. In 2004, NEWEA celebrated 75 years of service and commemorated the event with a 75th anniversary book, commemorative poster, shirt, and six $1,000 scholarships. Other achievements included raising over $50,000 in funds to support the organization. In addition, two NEWEA members were awarded individual awards: James Courchaine was awarded the Charles Alvin Emerson Medal, given to a WEF member who demonstrates outstanding service to the water environment profession, and Bradley Moore received the WEF Public Education Award. The Public Education Award is given in recognition of significant accomplishments in promoting awareness and understanding of water environment issues among the general public. NEBRA relies on NEWEA for support services and works closely with its Residuals Management Committee. We know how great an organization it is and are glad to see others recognize it also. Congratulation to NEWEA's staff and members for their hard work and dedication!
Thermal Drying - The Good With the Bad
Check out the article in the November issue of WE&T "Biosolids Dryer Safety: What Every Operator Should Know" for more details:
Monadnock Paper Achieves ISO 14001 EMS Certification
(from a Monadnock Paper news release)
Legal Battles Over Biosolids/Sludge Continue Here and There... VA... Kern County
While there are thousands of successful biosolids management programs around the nation, there are a few that gain media attention because of their involvement in lawsuits. Recently, one legal battle began in Virginia, while another continues in California....
Biosolids Recycling Meets Challenges in Quebec
In January, the Quebec environment ministry (MDDEP) published a second set of amendments to its 2004 "Guide to the Use of Fertilizing Residuals," the regulatory structure for the province. An earlier set of revisions had been issued in February 2006, and the Ministry considers the Guide to be a working document that is adapted to new research findings and experience as needed.
Brunswick Splits on Biosolids Compost Referendum
The votes are in, and two years of wrangling over the use of biosolids compost on town parks and sports fields may finally be coming to an end....
Update on Use of Biosolids Compost in Brunswick, Maine
Brunswick homeowners and businesses can use it, but now the Town can't. As reported in the November 9th NEBRAMail, the Brunswick, ME Question 1 referendum entitled "Community Health and Land Care Ordinance" banning Town use of Class A biosolids compost on public recreational fields passed by a slim margin and a recount was held.
Brunswick Ordinance Restricting Biosolids Compost Use Goes to Court
On January 16th, the Brunswick Town Council directed its town attorney to seek a declaratory judgment from Portland Superior Court regarding a local ordinance that bans the use of Class A biosolids compost on town properties. The ordinance, which was introduced as a citizen's petitioned initiative, was adopted by a slim margin as part of the Town's general election November 7th. The ordinance's legality has been questioned for some time by Town Attorney Geoffrey Hole and others, because the State of Maine preempts regulation of solid wastes.
Brunswick, ME Seeks Judgment on Biosolids Compost Restriction
In January, the Town of Brunswick, Maine filed a complaint in Superior Court seeking annulment of the "Community Land and Health Care Ordinance" that was adopted by a six-vote margin at the Town's November elections. The ordinance was the latest in several years of debate about the use of Class A biosolids compost as part of routine maintenance of town-owned sports fields and other lands. The Town Council, over the years, has dealt with the issue as carefully as possible, at one point asking for an independent scientific review, which found biosolids compost use presents no significant risk. Nonetheless, concerned citizens created the petitioned ordinance and mounted a vigorous campaign to paint a negative picture of biosolids compost. The Town responded that the ordinance was likely illegal, because of preemption of biosolids regulation by the State of Maine, but could do nothing to stop the ordinance going to a vote. After it narrowly passed, the Town placed a moratorium on its enforcement, pending evaluation by the Superior Court.
USCC Honors Compost Specialist Chris Bales
Christopher Bales, a Product Marketing Specialist with New England Organics (NEO), received the Hi Kellogg Award for Outstanding Service to the Composting Industry at the January 23rd US Composting Council's Annual Conference. This award is presented to an individual who has displayed outstanding service to the U. S. composting industry over a period of many years, and who has left a lasting positive impact on the practice and the people he has worked alongside.
NH Legislature Lends Cautious Support to Current Biosolids Management
On June 7th, the New Hampshire Senate ended another round of legislative debate on biosolids recycling by passing two bills, HB 699 and HB 812. Of five biosolids-related bills introduced in January, these were the only two destined to become law this year. This outcome, along with the approval of updated regulations by a joint legislative committee (see NEBRAMail, 6/1/07), suggests considerable - but cautious - legislative support for the state's current biosolids management program.
New Hampshire Adopts Updated Regulations
After almost a year since first proposed by the NH Department of Environmental Services (DES), new regulations governing sewage sludge and biosolids management went into effect on May 24th. The new regulations, Env-Wq 800, are fundamentally the same as the regulations they replaced, which were due to expire this spring. The only significant changes are clarification of how DES will determine the acceptability of certain equivalent methods and integration of the terms "biosolids" and "short paper fiber," which had been defined in law by the Legislature in 2000.
Biosolids in the U.S. - A New National Report
The Preliminary Report is Now Available
NH Legislature Addresses Biosolids Bills and Regulations
Strong Bi-Partisan Votes in House of Representatives Support Biosolids Interests
New Hampshire Legislation 2007
The new New Hampshire Legislature, led by Democrats in both houses for the first time in a century, is getting started making legislation. Five bills appear to have something to do with biosolids and septage management, although the detailed language of only two are available. The first out of the gate, HB 414, would allow Class A biosolids to be sold in 2000-pound agricultural fertilizer bags. The second, HB 384, appears to repeal several parts of current law that were created in recent years to provide funding and support for the NH DES to conduct random testing and inspections at biosolids and sludge land application sites. In addition, HB 384 would establish a committee of house and senate members to "study and develop policies and suggest changes in law for the management of sludge." Neither bill has yet been scheduled for public hearing. The three other bills address: creating a committee to study methods and costs of sewage, sludge, and septage disposal; permanent authorization of biosolids land application sites; and relative to prohibiting wastewater treatment plants from excluding towns for septage treatment and disposal services. Contact the NEBRA office for details.
Advancing Land Reclamation in Massachusetts
Resource Management Inc. (RMI) has used manufactured topsoils in disturbed land reclamation projects and landfill closure projects throughout New England since 1995. In June, RMI provided a tour of some of its most recent reclamation sites in central Massachusetts. These gravel mining areas are being reclaimed mostly for productive agricultural use (hay crops), although one is the site of a housing development. In all of these cases, biosolids and short paper fiber (paper mill residuals) are combined to create a 6 - 9 inch layer of manufactured topsoil that strongly resists erosion and supports vigorous plant growth.
Letter to the Editor of NH Sierra Club News
A LETTER SUBMITTED FOR PUBLICATION TO THE NH SIERRA CLUB NEWSLETTER, SIERRAN...
NEBRA Comments Regarding NH-DES Proposed Biosolids Rule Changes, July 2006
Introducing new NEBRA staff person Kristy Crawford
Kristy Crawford recently signed on as Project Assistant in a part time capacity to assist Ned Beecher in the NEBRA office in Tamworth, NH. Kristy currently resides with her husband in Conway, NH. She recently moved to Conway from Portsmouth, NH. Kristy is a 2001 Graduate of Maine Maritime Academy, summa cum laude. She holds a Bachelors of Science degree in Ocean Studies with a minor in Mathematics. While at MMA, Kristy served as the Student Representative on the Board of Trustees.
NEBRA Spring Tours Provide Insights on Wastewater, Biosolids, and Septage Management
On Tuesday May 9, 2006 New England Organics (NEO) hosted its annual open house at the Hawk Ridge Compost Facility in Unity, Maine. NEO manufactures Class A biosolids compost and distributes it under the Earthlife brand name. A variety of people attended the open house ranging from contractors, landscapers, municipal employees, farmers, and interested citizens.
Triclocarban - An Antibacterial in Biosolids That May Represent a Worst-Case Sentinel Chemical
In April, 2006, a paper by Jochen Heidler, Amir Sapkota, and Rolf Halden of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health was published in Environmental Science & Technology that showed the concentration in wastewater solids of a particular antimicrobial chemical, Triclocarban (TCC), used mostly in soaps, to be in the order of 50 mg/kg (ppm), a level the Dr. Halden believes is significant.
NEBRA Commentary on Caroline Snyder Critique of EPA in the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health
In November 2005, the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health (http://www.ijoeh.com) published a paper by Caroline Snyder, PhD, a New Hampshire citizen who has expressed concerns about biosolids recycling over much of the past decade. The paper appears with other papers in a "special issue" of the journal focused on "corporate corruption of science." Fluoride, genetically modified organisms, and leaded gasoline are subjects of other papers in this same issue.
Brunswick Voters To Determine in November the Future Use of Biosolids Compost
Despite the findings of an independent, locally-convened scientific review panel last December, that biosolids compost poses no greater safety risk than the use of organic composts and that that risk is negligible, those opposed to the use of biosolids on sports fields and other public areas in the Town of Brunswick, Maine, have forced a town-wide vote on the matter.
Letter to NH Sierra Club re Article in Sierran
Shelagh Connelly Honored With NH Women in Business Award
Shelagh Connelly, President of Resource Management, Inc. (RMI), was one of six women honored by the NH Business Review (NHBR) and Laconia Savings Bank at the first annual Outstanding Women in Business Awards on Thursday, February 2, 2006. The award recognizes the success and achievements of women in New Hampshire's business community. "With so many of our state's most successful businesses and nonprofits led by women, we felt it was time to honor those who are doing a truly remarkable job and have such a large impact on both our state's economy and communities," said Jeff Feingold, editor of NHBR.
Pharmaceuticals Are An Increasing Focus - What Does This Mean For Biosolids Recycling?
Pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) and their potential impacts on the environment continue to be the focus of considerable research. PPCPs are loosely defined as organic chemical compounds that are widely used in soaps, shampoos, detergents, perfumes, musks, etc., as well as antibiotics and drugs.
Biosolids Forum at Bowdoin College, Brunswick, ME
Biosolids ("sludge") Compost Use: Understanding the Benefits and Risks
How Biosolids Are Produced and Recycled in New England - a slide show
Click on headline to download a slide show that shows how biosolids are typically produced and recycled in and around New England (5 MB file).
NHWPCA Hosts Tours of MWRA's Deer Island
In mid-September, the New Hampshire Water Pollution Control Association (NHWPCA) arranged tours of the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority's Deer Island wastewater treatment facility. Attendees could choose one of two days - as it turned out, a sunny Tuesday or a rainy Thursday. Each group was met and led around by tour guide extraordinaire Charlie Tyler, process engineer for MWRA (also known for his dedicated support of NEWEA and NEBRA) and his helpful associates. Deer Island treats 300 MGD or more all the time, the flow quietly humming mostly enclosed in tons of concrete (for example, primary clarifiers are entirely enclosed and stacked two high). It can treat as much as 1,270 MGD, making it one of the largest facilities in the nation. And the biosolids! Seeing New England's biggest eggs up close, inside and out, on top and directly under, is inspiring. These digesters feed - now through a pipeline instead of the old barges - the steady production of Bay State Fertilizer at the New England Fertilizer Company plant in Quincy. Deer Island is a modern marvel, well worth a visit. NHWPCA was great to create this opportunity for its members and friends. To NHWPCA and MWRA - many thanks! More information about Deer Island can be found at the link, below.
NEBRA Welcomes Intern Elizabeth Dziezyk
University of Maine Student to Help With Nationwide Biosolids Use and Disposal Survey
NEBRA and NEWEA Invite Cooperation on Animal Residuals Management
As part of the 2005 New England Residuals and Biosolids Conference, NEWEA's Residuals Management Committee and NEBRA are reaching out to those who work extensively with animals - equestrians, farmers, and others - to foster exchange of information and cooperation about the management of animal manures and other residuals. Alwynne Hellfach of Birchmere Farm in Center Strafford, NH, long a NEBRA Board member, and Bob Spencer of WeCare Environmental in Marlborough, MA, are leading the hosting of a dinner meeting at the conference. Anyone in the region concerned with animal waste management is invited.
HOT and COLD - The 2005 New England Residuals and Biosolids Conference
HOT and COLD: Diverse Biosolids Management Strategies in New England November 15 - 16, 2005 Wyndham Hotel, Westborough, MA (http://www.wyndham.com/hotels/ORHWE/main.wnt)
University of Maine Releases White Paper on Biosolids Management in Maine
Dr. John Peckenham and associates at the George Mitchell Center have completed a review of current understanding of biosolids recycling in Maine.
Canadian Compost Standard Updated
(With information from Marc Hébert, Quebec Ministry of Environment)
Nova Scotia Faces Challenges As it Builds Biosolids Program
(with information from Jay Brenton, NS Ministry of Env. & Labor, and Maureen Reilly)
Risk Perception and Stakeholder Involvement Paper Available Here
The January - February 2005 edition of the Journal of Environmental Quality (JEQ) includes a paper by Beecher et al. on "Risk Perception, Risk Communication, and Stakeholder Involvement for Biosolids Management and Research." This paper was presented at the January 2004 Sustainable Land Application conference. Click here to download a copy for personal use. All abstracts from the conference can be accessed at the JEQ website: http://jeq.scijournals.org.
Prions in Biosolids
On May 31, 2005, an article in "Inside EPA" (InsideEPA.com) reported that "New EPA Prion Studies Could Hinder POTW Push to Land-Apply Biosolids" (see title, source, and quote from article, below). "Inside EPA" is a private news service, a publication of Inside Washington Publishers. Inside EPA is not an EPA publication.
The Latest on Pathogens & Pathogen Treatment
In April, JG Press published a significant report regarding pathogens in sewage sludge, biosolids, and animal manures. Edited by Jim Smith (U. S. EPA), Patricia Millner (USDA), Walter Jakubowski, Nora Goldstein, and Robert Rynk, this peer-reviewed report compiles the findings of the EPA-sponsored workshop on emerging pathogens and related issues that was held in Cincinnati in June, 2001.
Fats, Oils, Grease (FOG) Workshop Information Available
A New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission (NEIWPCC) workshop on "FOG" - fats, oils, and grease - was well attended February 15th at the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services building in Concord. Operators, septage haulers, and regulators from Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont packed the auditorium to get more information on this topic of increasing interest. FOG includes grease trap wastes (GTW) and consists of various hydrocarbons that, in the right environment, are readily consumed by microorganisms and/or are readily combustible (yielding carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, etc.). However, GTW and other forms of FOG are usually mixed with water, food particles, and trash. Analysis of FOG (e.g. for nutrient content) is difficult, because of interferences in the semi-solid matrix, but it does contain significant plant nutrients. FOG can include food frying oils, although most such oils are currently rendered into saleable products (in New England, largely by Baker Industries of Billerica, MA).
Crapshoot: A Film That Critiques Wastewater Treatment & Biosolids Recycling
"Underground, the city has a body like our own... Like a living entity, the city purges its waste... Waste belongs to no one, and we send it away. To where, no one knows."
New Hampshire to Begin New Rule-making for Septage Management
Sometime later in January, 2005, the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (DES) will initiate formal rulemaking to update the state's septage management regulations, Env-Ws 1600. The proposed rule revisions were developed, in part, by a Septage Task Force that has been meeting for three years. The objective of the Task Force's work has been to address the significant lack of septage disposal and treatment options in the state (currently, a large percentage of New Hampshire septage is trucked to wastewater facilities in Massachusetts and Maine).
The NEBRA / NEWEA Residuals Management Conference 2004
The New England Water Environment Association's Residuals Management Committee and the New England Biosolids and Residuals Association looked at residuals management from diverse viewpoints at the 2004 Residual Management Conference in Revere, MA on November 9th and 10th.
Maine Master Gardeners Enhance Highways
October 1st, a four-year effort by a Maine Master Gardener, Penelope Reilly, finally bore fruit. Trained in the Maine Cooperative Extension Master Gardener program, Reilly's vision for spending her donated volunteer hours is to create demonstration highway plantings to show how spectacular-and sustainable-native trees and shrubs can be.
New Board Members Elected at 2004 NEBRA Annual Meeting
On Tuesday, November 9th, NEBRA held its 7th Annual Meeting for NEBRA members at the NEWEA/NEBRA residuals and biosolids conference in Revere, MA. More than thirty people, representing a third of NEBRA's member organizations, made the trek to Revere, MA to: --adopt revisions to NEBRA's Bylaws' mission statement; --re-elect to Directors Chip Chesley, Patrick Cloutier, Alwynne Hellfach, and Barry Needleman; --newly elect to the Board of Directors Peter Coleman and Carl Pawlowski; and --discuss options for immediate efforts to meet NEBRA's basic financial needs in an ongoing, sustainable way.
NH Supreme Court Upholds Local Biosolids Ordinance
On November 30th, the New Hampshire Supreme Court released its decision on a case challenging a local restrictive biosolids ordinance in the town of Tilton. The Court sided with the Town, upholding the local ordinance: "Because the ordinance does not contradict State law or run counter to the legislative intent underlying the statutory scheme, we hold that the ordinance is not preempted by State law."
Public Perception, Communications, and Stakeholder Involvement - Powerpoint presentation available here!
Ned Beecher of NEBRA and Ellen Harrison of the Cornell Waste Management Institute were co-presenters of a paper "Public Perception, Communications, and Stakeholder Involvement" at the January, 2004 "Sustainable Land Application" state-of-the-science conference produced by the University of Florida. A powerpoint presentation of this paper is available from the NEBRA offic.
New New York Biosolids Regulations Take Effect
On March 10th, new solid waste regulations regarding land application and composting of organic wastes took effect in New York State. The new "6 NYCRR Part 360" rules utilize the term "biosolids" and set numerical standards for trace elements that are fairly consistent with EPA's Part 503 rule and other states in the region (an exception is the cadmium limit, which is set at 10 mg/kg for biosolids products (Class A, EQ materials) and 21 mg/kg for Class B materials and materials going into Class A facilities). Additional changes bring New York's regulations up to date with respect to current best practices. For more information, contact the Department of Conservation, Division of Solid & Hazardous Materials, at 518-402-8678. http://www.dec.state.ny.us/website/dshm/redrecy/la2.htm
Greater Lawrence Sanitary District Dryer is Operational
GLSD pellets have hit the market! New England Fertilizer Company (NEFCO), operator of the new Greater Lawrence (Massachusetts) Sanitary District (GLSD) heat drying facility, is now selling GLSD pellets to its established fertilizer markets. NEFCO also operates the pelletizing operation in Quincy, MA, which processes all of greater Boston's sewage sludge. According to NEFCO's Ginny Grace, the start-up of the new GLSD facility went well. It will be producing about 8,000 dry tons of pellets a year-a few truckloads a week. Much of NEFCO's product is currently shipped to the Midwest and Southeast, and Grace says they hope to provide more to New England markets soon.
Essex Junction WWTF Tackles Power Generation
On-site power system will reduce pollution, lower costs for local ratepayers
NH Legislative Commission Achieves Compromise on Setbacks From Designated Rivers
In June, a legislative commission completed its work of looking at the issue of setbacks of biosolids and other organic residuals from certain rivers in New Hampshire. After months of study and discussions, the "SB 87 Commission" voted 13-1 to adopt a coordinated, compromise proposal and final report. Commission Chairman Representative Tim Allen presented the final report to the governor and the leadership of the state house and senate. The report notes that "the commission prepared a coordinated proposal...that it recommends to the New Hampshire General Court for passage into law." That the Commission reached a nearly-unanimous recommendation on this often contentious topic was considered by many members to be miraculous.
Addressing Risks From Bioaerosols Generated at Land Application Sites
Several researchers at the University of Arizona, including Dr. Charles Gerba, a leading expert on the microbiology of sewage, sewage sludge, and biosolids, have published a correction to a paper that caused considerable public concern regarding the potential for human health impacts from bioaerosols from land application of Class B biosolids.
NEBRA Comments to EPA on Proposed Revisions to Government Procurement Programs
In December, 2003, the U.S. EPA proposed changes to the government procurement standards for products derived from organic residuals, including biosolids. The proposed revisions would include products derived from biosolids and manures in the procurement program that requires federal, state, and local governments to preferentially purchase products derived from recovered or recycled materials. This should increase demand in the markets for biosolids composts and fertilizers.
Bangor Maine EMS Program
The following was included in the April 19, 2004 National Biosolids Partnership electronic newsletter.
NEBRA's Hometown Uses Biosolids for Landfill Cover
NEBRA's office is in Tamworth, New Hampshire. Because of this, it is worth mentioning when biosolids are successfully used there locally.
EPA Responds to Center for Food Safety Petition
EPA used its response to a petition from the Center for Food Safety (CFS) and other groups to clarify its current position regarding the recycling of biosolids in the United States. The CFS petition, delivered to EPA in October, 2003, requested that the agency place a moratorium on the recycling of biosolids. In its response, EPA refuted the allegations of harm from biosolids that the petitioners had used as a basis for their request for a moratorium. EPA currently finds that all three legal options for the use or disposal of biosolids (recycling to soils, incineration, or landfilling) present minimal risks and are environmentally acceptable; the choice of which option is up to local wastewater treatment agencies and their communities.
Maine Legislature: Summary of Biosolids Bills, 2003
This spring's legislative session in Maine turned out to be a small roller-coaster ride for biosolids. While only two bills were introduced, and another was amended to reference "sludge and septage," the amount of legislative work involved was considerable.
Bioavailability of Contaminants in Soils and Sediments
by Sally Brown, University of Washington (from Northwest Biosolids Management Association Biosolids Bulletin, May 2003; see www.nwbiosolids.org )
Maine Legislature Rejects Another Effort to Further Restrict Biosolids Recycling
On March 11th, the joint Committee on Natural Resources of the Maine legislature voted down one bill and drastically amended another, gutting another attempt by opponents of biosolids recycling to restrict biosolids use in the state. The Committee's consideration of the two bills involved five hours of testimony at a March 6th hearing. Maine Waste Water Control Association (MWWCA) members, users of biosolids products (nursery owners, landscapers, farmers) turned out in large numbers to provide lots of information about the value of biosolids recycling programs all over the state. And, in a surprise and welcome development, the Maine Municipal Association joined MWWCA in its opposition to these bills, despite their long-standing support of local control.
Northeast Residuals & Biosolids Conference, November 02: Highlights
This year's annual New England Residuals and Biosolids Management Conference extended the collaboration between NEBRA and the New England Water Environment Association, resulting in two days of information sharing, including reports on successes and lessons learned from recent biosolids management projects around the region and news from Washington and the research community on the latest national developments. This year's conference was also co-sponsored by the New York Water Environment Association (NYWEA).
National Research Council Chair Issues Clarification
A National Research Council report, Biosolids Applied to Land: Advancing Standards and Practices, was released July 2nd of this year and generated some public and media interest. The National Academy of Sciences, which published the report, released a two-page summary and a press release that was criticized by those in the biosolids industry as being biased in their interpretation of the panel's results. Many of the NRC panel members apparently found this to be troubling as well and requested that NAS provide a clarification. In early September, Dr. Thomas Burke of the Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University, the chair of the NRC biosolids panel, provided a written statement, "The Science of Recycling Sewage Sludge," through the National Academy's "Op-Ed" website page.
2002 National Academy of Sciences Biosolids Report: Full Official Summary Available Here!
On July 2, 2002, a National Research Council (NRC) panel of the National Academy of Sciences released a final report on an 18-month review of the federal biosolids regulations and Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) biosolids recycling program.
NEBRA and MWWCA Complete Response to Toxics Action Report
In October, 2001, the Maine Toxics Action Center (TAC) released a report Toxic Sludge in Our Communities: Threatening Public Health and Our Farmlands. As the title indicates, the report was critical of biosolids recycling in Vacationland. Because TAC, as a group, is focused on the goal of reducing human exposures to toxic substances and toxics in the environment, the report focused on the presence of trace chemicals and elements found in biosolids. Much of the report involved conjecture and some clear misunderstandng of biosolids recycling practices. Additional concerns voiced by TAC included the belief that testing, enforcement, and oversight of Maine biosolids recycling programs is inadequate. Download NEBRA/MWWCA response.
NEBRA Letter to Editor Published in USA Today
On Thursday, October 19, 2000, the following letter to the editor was published in USA TODAY. For references and additional information, please contact NEBRA:
NEBRA Letter to Editor Published in USA Today
On Thursday, October 19, 2000, the following letter to the editor was published in USA TODAY. For references and additional information, please contact NEBRA.
We, the New England Biosolids and Residuals Association, are the people involved in the recycling of biosolids -- the treated solids or "sludge" removed from this region's municipal wastewater. Nationwide, more than 60% of sewage solids are recycled in land application, composting and fertilizer programs.
A USA TODAY editorial stated that "two deaths have been attributed to sludge." We believe this to be untrue ("Faced with faulty science, EPA muzzles critics," Our View, Punishing whistleblowers debate, Oct. 5).
Yes, a court case is pending regarding allegations of this sort -- people have the right to sue about anything. Since the case is in New Hampshire, we know something about it. Those alleging harm from biosolids do not have any valid scientific argument to back their claim.
The state medical examiner found no link to biosolids. In the other case, in Pennsylvania, the joint environmental and health departments' investigation also found no link to biosolids.
Such allegations are especially improbable considering the fact that thousands of wastewater and biosolids workers -- the people who work with untreated sewage solids and treated biosolids daily -- are generally as healthy as other groups of workers.
We encourage USA TODAY and its readers to learn more about biosolids recycling: Visit a wastewater treatment and biosolids production facility and see a biosolids-recycling program in action. Find out more about the decades of experience in which millions of tons of biosolids have been successfully recycled, and the hundreds of studies that have found biosolids recycling, in accordance with federal and state laws, to be beneficial to soils and crops and protective of human health and the environment.
Ned Beecher, Coordinator New England Biosolids and Residuals Association, Tamworth, N.H.
MA Secretary of Environmental Affairs Calls for More Biosolids Recycling
A Talk Given by Massachusetts Secretary of Environmental Affairs, Robert Durand, at a Biosolids Recycling Event at Harvard Medical School, May 3, 2000.
2000 Biosolids Recycling Day in NH - A Talk by NEBRA Coordinator, Ned Beecher, May 16, 2000
A talk presented by NEBRA Coordinator, Ned Beecher, to mark New Hampshire Biosolids Recycling Day-May 16, 2000-at a ceremony at the Concord Hall Street Wastewater Treatment Facility.
Biosolids Legislation 2000
In 1999, the Maine legislature considered two bills--including additional local testing requirements and a 1000-foot setback and more--that would have severely restricted biosolids recycling: the former was watered down to nothing substantial and the second was voted down. 2000 being the second part of the biennial session, no new bills are being considered.
NEBRA's Third Annual Meeting Held at WEF's National Biosolids Conference in Boston
NEBRA entered its third year of operations and marked more milestones at its Third Annual Meeting February 27th. Ann Bosiak, President and Chair of the Board since the inception of NEBRA, was honored as "Volunteer of the Year." Ann is leaving the world of biosolids to work as an attorney in Portland, ME, but will complete her term on the Board through the spring of 2001. Her leadership of NEBRA during its formative first two years has been critical. She follows Alwynne Hellfach and Shelagh Connelly as recipients of NEBRA's award. The NEBRA Board of Directors remains stable-two members were elected for three year terms. Erick Sawtelle, a New Hampshire farmer who utilizes biosolids, will remain on the Board. And Rose Mary Seymour, a professor in the Bio-Engineering Department at the University of Maine in Orono, joins the Board. Dr. Seymour is interested in further development of NEBRA's research programs throughout the New England. As a stakeholder from Maine, Dr. Seymour replaces Dick Bentzel of the Kennebec Sanitary Treatment District. We thank Dick for his input and networking, which have been critical to NEBRA's efforts, even though he says he wishes he could have contributed more. He, and each NEBRA Board and Committee member, do what they can, when they can. And even if these efforts seem small, they add up to making NEBRA possible. Considering the very busy times we are in, there is no other way to operate. Thank you, Dick Bentzel. For more information about the governance of NEBRA, the Board of Directors, and Committees, see the "Members" section of the NEBRA website or contact the NEBRA office. Volunteers are always needed to serve as Directors and Committee members.
NH Municipal Association Publishes Rebuttal to NH Sierra Club "Sludge" Paper
Note: The following was published in the February, 2000, edition of "New Hampshire Town and City" of the New Hampshire Municipal Association. It responds to a New Hampshire Sierra Club paper "The Sludging of New Hampshire," which was mailed to towns earlier this year.
Trace organic chemical pollutants in biosolids
There is public interest concerning the impacts of trace organic chemicals that come down the pipe and may end up in biosolids. NEBRA's 1999 report, "Cultivating New England Biosolids Recycling," found that "the fundamental issue is biosolids quality, especially with regard to trace metal and chemical contaminants."
NEBRA Encourages Strong State Biosolids Programs
In October, 1999 NEBRA sent the following letter to the Assistant Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. The letter's sentiment also applies to each of the other New England state environmental regulatory agencies: the successful management of biosolids and other residuals needs strong and consistent state regulatory programs.
New Hampshire Legislature Continues to Wrestle with Biosolids Setback from Rivers
Three bills encouraging further beneficial use of biosolids were introduced in the New Hampshire legislature this year by Senator Carl Johnson: Senate Bills 87, 88, and 89. All generated some good discussion. The last two, SB 88 and SB 89, were eventually voted down and withdrawn by the sponsor, respectively (see NEWWN, #80).
NH Compost Association Celebrates Compost Awareness Week
Compost happens. That's what one bumper sticker says-and it is accurate: most organic materials naturally decompose on their own, given enough time. But humans have long known how to speed up the natural composting process and put it to beneficial uses. Today, there is an industry here in New Hampshire and across the globe that works at composting everything from yard and leaf debris to sewage sludge to animal carcasses to seafood processing waste.
WERF Biosolids Research Summit Held
(adapted from the Water Environment Research Foundation)
UNH/McDowell Groundwater Monitoring Final Report Delivered to NH-DES
Dr. William H. McDowell of the University of New Hampshire Natural Resources Department has completed further study on groundwater quality beneath the topsoil manufacturing site in Hooksett where biosolids and short paper fiber (paper mill residuals) have been recycled for more than a decade. Dr. McDowell submitted his final report to the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (DES) in early March.
Vermont DEC Re-Commits to Biosolids Beneficial Use
Late last year, the Vermont legislature formally adopted a revised Solid Waste Management Plan created by the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). In Vermont, sewage sludge is regulated under the solid waste rules. The Plan calls for the state to achieve and maintain a 75% recycling rate for all of its sewage sludge by 2005. Cathy Jamieson, head of the residuals management program at DEC, notes that, therefore, "the Policy decision has been made." As DEC begins to consider some adjustments to its biosolids management regulations-a process that has not yet started-"the question of whether or not to recycle will not be raised; we will be addressing how and where."
To Regulate or Not to Regulate? New England Area Comments on Biosolids Dioxin Data Notice
This summer, EPA published data and information on its revised risk assessment for dioxins and co-planar PCBs in biosolids that are land applied.
References Regarding USA Today Allegations of Harm from Biosolids
Alleged cases of deaths linked to exposure to biosolids:
Updated NEIWPCC Biosolids Brochures Available
The New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission (NEIWPCC) has updated and reprinted copies of its four brochures on biosolids management: "Sludge or Biosolids," "Land Application of Biosolids," "Composting Biosolids," and "Incineration of Biosolids." The brochures were developed by NEIWPCC's Residuals Workgroup, which is comprised of the state biosolids management regulatory staff from each of the New England states, New York, and New Jersey. Updated data in the brochures indicate that biosolids beneficial use accounts for 38% of these states' biosolids use or disposal; while landfilling accounts for 18% and incineration accounts for 44%. Contact the NEBRA office or Mike Jennings at NEIWPCC (978-323-7929) to obtain copies.
Researchers Study Bioaerosols at Class B Land Application Sites
Commentary: RENEWing our commitment
U. S. House Committee Holds Hearing on Emerging Contaminants
On September 18th, the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure held a hearing on emerging contaminants in U. S. waters. Witnesses testifying before the Committee were David Littell (Commissioner of the Maine Dept. of Environmental Protection), U. S. EPA's Benjamin Grumbles, Matthew Larson (USGS), Keith Linn (representing NACWA), Tee Guidotti (George Washington Univ.), and Peter deFur (Virginia Commonwealth Univ.)
Swimming in Halifax Harbor
Halifax harbor reopened this summer to swimming, for the first time 30 years. According to a Canadian Press news article, "the news came nine months after the first of three waste water treatment facilities began operating as part of a $333 million project that took years of construction and difficult negotiations between three levels of government. Within days of the startup, ...readings showed a dramatic drop in bacterial contamination while the squadrons of tampons and condoms began to disappear" ( http://www.cbc.ca/cp/Atlantic/080727/t072702A.html). The new facilities provide advanced primary treatment. As noted in an article by Rae Wallin, president of NViro Canada, which appeared in Halifax's Chronicle Herald, the solids from the new Halifax facilities are being successfully treated at a facility in the Aerotech Business Park. "We are particularly proud to bring to the Harbour Solutions Project a beneficial, sustainable approach to dealing with the processing of wastewater biosolids," writes Wallin.
Biosolids Debate in Québec
A July 18th article in the Courrier of Laval, a northwest suburb of Montréal, discussed the fate and debate of Laval's biosolids. The debate resurfaced, according to the article, "after... a report of the commission of transportation and environment recommended that they be beneficially used."
Seabrook, NH May Pioneer Another Sludge Reduction Technology
(from the Daily News of Newburyport)
"Seabrook's sewer officials are enthusiastic about a way to lessen the cost of sludge disposal through an innovative technology created by PMC BioTec Company of Pennsylvania and Massachusetts.... If the town's attorney approves the contract, selectmen agreed to have PMC's equipment installed at Seabrook's treatment plant by the same company that built the plant in 1996. If everything proceeds as PMC's testing indicates, Seabrook could reduce its sludge anywhere from 60 to 80 percent. The remaining will be "green sludge," according to PMC's president, Alan Rozich, or environmentally safe sludge that should be much easier and less costly to have removed.... If for some reason PMC's system doesn't reduce Seabrook's sludge by at least 60 percent," the company will remove it at no cost to the town... "The PMC system uses microbiotic organisms that literally consume the sludge."
WERF Finishes Protocol for Responding to Reports of Symptoms of Illness
(from the Water Environment Research Foundation)
The Water Environment Research Foundation (WERF) has completed the first phase of research designed to provide a protocol for responding to reports of symptoms of illness by neighbors of sites where soil amendments, including biosolids, animal manures, food residuals, septage, and compost are applied to land. The Phase 1 research report is titled Epidemiologic Surveillance and Investigation of Symptoms of Illness Reported by Neighbors of Biosolids Land Application Sites and includes a completed draft protocol. The protocol is designed to be used eventually by local, state, and federal health and environmental officials. In the second phase of research, planned for 2008, the protocol will be field tested by environmental and health agencies and subsequently refined based on their feedback.
U. S. EPA Posts New Test Methods For Contaminants
(Thanks to Vivian Matkivich and Tom Schwartz for forwarding this information.)
The U. S. EPA has finalized and posted on its website three new laboratory test methods that have been peer reviewed ad single lab validated. Method 1694 is for Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products in Water, Soil, Sediment, and Biosolids by HPLC/MS/MS. Method 1698 is for Steroids and Hormones in Water, Soil, Sediment, and Biosolids by HRGC/HRMS. Method 1699 is for Pesticides in Water, Soil, Sediment, Biosolids, and Tissue by HRGC/HRMS and has detection limits considerably lower than those in other current methods for organochlorine pesticides. Details at http://www.epa.gov/waterscience/methods/method/other.html
Virginia Biosolids Oversight Changes Hands
(from the Lynchburg, VA News & Advance)
Last spring the Virginia General Assembly approved a measure transferring regulatory control of biosolids from the state Department of Health (VDH) to the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), effective Jan. 1. This decision came following numerous complaints that the health department wasn't a regulatory agency and didn't have the muscle or resources to enforce the permits it issued.
U. S. EPA Sends Report on Wastewater Infrastructure Needs to Congress
(From the National Biosolids Partnership)
A mid-January report from the U. S. EPA estimates $202.5 billion is the nationwide capital investment needed to control wastewater pollution for up to a 20-year period. Delivered to Congress this week, the 2004 Clean Watersheds Needs Survey summarizes the results of the agency's 14th national survey on the needs of publicly owned wastewater treatment works. The estimate includes $134.4 billion for wastewater treatment and collection systems, $54.8 billion for combined sewer overflow corrections, and $9.0 billion for stormwater management. "Water infrastructure is a lifeline for health and prosperity in communities across America," said Assistant Administrator for Water Benjamin H. Grumbles. "EPA is working with our partners to promote sustainable solutions and help utilities and households save money, water and energy."
"Sludge: The Black Sheep of Recycling"
In December, the magazine URBA, of an association of municipalities in Québec, published an article on "Sludge: The Black Sheep of Recycling" authored by Marc Hébert of the environment ministry (MDDEP). He notes that Québec has not met its biosolids recycling goal for 1998 - 2008, in large part due to the commitments to incineration at Montréal, Longueuil, and Québec. "For other towns, landfilling is often preferred, because of the simplicity and cost. Thus, 80% of the sludges are landfilled or incinerated, and less than 20% are used as fertilizing residuals." Towns that recycle biosolids by land application, pelletizing, composting, etc. include Saguenay, Sherbrooke, Gatineau, Laval, St-Hyancinthe, and Beaupré. Ste-Marie-de-Beauce, which has a lagoon system, composts solids when they are occasionally removed. "In total, about 60% of the biosolids that are applied to soils have been composted. The remaining 40% are applied to 0.2% of the agricultural lands" in the province. Notes Hébert: "It is not a question of inundating agricultural lands for the short or long term." The article, aimed at municipal officials, encourages consideration of recycling to soils as an option for local biosolids management.
GSI Environnement, a subsidiary of EnGlobe Corp.,has been awarded a five-year exclusive contract by Kruger Inc.
GSI Environnement, a subsidiary of EnGlobe Corp.,has been awarded a five-year exclusive contract by Kruger Inc. to be the sole provider of pulp and paper sludge that will be transformed into energy at Kruger's new 23-megawatt biomass cogeneration plant at its Brompton mill near Sherbrooke, Quebec. "This contract has many benefits for EnGlobe and for all Canadians," said Tony Busseri, President and Chief Executive Officer of EnGlobe Corp. "It provides our Company with a dependable stream of revenues for five years, which has long been one of our strategic objectives. It also enables GSI to position itself as a Canadian leader in the management and beneficial reuse of pulp and paper waste streams. And the environmental benefits are significant, since the Kruger biomass cogeneration plant will eliminate approximately 83,000 tons of greenhouse gases annually.
New "Guidelines for Pathogen Control at Organic Material Processing Facilities" is now available.
Environmental pathogens can affect plants and animals, workers, a local environment, and organic material markets. Keeping potentially pathogenic material segregated and contained at processing sites requires management of dust, water, and feedstocks. Proper site layout and appropriate processing technology are other features that maintain control and treatment of pathogens. The unique ability for organic materials to self-heat in large piles, along with reasonable handling techniques, can be used to provide excellent control over even some of the most difficult of the plant and animal pathogens that might be delivered to organic material processors. This Best Management Practices document strives to identify the details that make this a predictable outcome. Download available at: http://www.compostwashington.org/whatsnew.asp
Judge Orders Kern County, CA to Pay Attorney Fees
(From the Water Environment Federation)
In the City of Los Angeles Department of Public Works News (October 30, 2007): In a recent ruling, the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles decided that Kern County must pay attorney fees to the businesses that joined with the City of Los Angeles and other southland governments in their successful challenge to Kern County's ban on biosolids. The ruling follows the federal court's final decision in August overturning Kern's Measure E ban, which was passed by Kern voters in a 2006 initiative. That decision found that Measure E violated both the U.S. Constitution's protections for interstate commerce and the California Integrated Waste Management Act that mandates the recycling of biosolids.
Brown to Green: Biosolids and Residuals Management Reaches for Sustainability
From Tom Schwartz and Ned Beecher
ABC Creates Standing Committee for Biosolids Land Applier Certification Program
(from Suzanne de la Cruz, Association of Boards of Certification - ABC)
During its October 13th meeting, ABC's Board of Directors made permanent a committee that has been working on developing an examination and certification process for biosolids land appliers. The official name of the standing committee is now "ABC Biosolids Land Appliers Validation & Examination Committee." Bill Toffey, of the Philadelphia Water Department, was approved as the 2008 chair of this committee; Toffey chaired the ad-hoc committee since its inception. This committee will be responsible for developing the Class I and II biosolids land appliers certification exams. In addition, this committee will participate in the ongoing review of questions for the exams. Current committee members, including NEBRA representatives Gavin MacDonald and Mary MacDonald, are continuing to serve on the committee. The term of office for each committee member is two years, and each committee member is eligible to serve a maximum of six years.
Update on Pathogen Reactivation & Regrowth Research
(from the Water Environment Research Foundation)
WERF Report, Phases II and III: Evaluation of Bacterial Pathogen and Indicator Densities After Dewatering of Anaerobically Digested Biosolids, Abstract: The increase in culturable densities (ICD) of indicator bacteria, mainly fecal coliforms (FCs) and E.coli, immediately following dewatering, was evaluated at several full-scale facilities, in addition to the increases measured during cake storage. The results showed that the increase immediately after dewatering was a statistically verifiable occurrence at some facilities, but not all, as was the additional increases measured during cake storage. The immediate increase and growth were much more prevalent in processes that utilized centrifuge dewatering compared to belt filter press dewatering. In addition, thermophilic digestion processes typically experienced much greater increases immediately after dewatering compared to mesophilic processes. For example, increases of up to five orders of magnitude were measured in thermophilic processes. In comparison, the immediate increase after dewatering was typically 0 - 1 order of magnitude for mesophilic processes. Only one plant was sampled with high solids centrifugation that did not show increases immediately after dewatering and after storage and this plant was different from others in that it utilized thermophilic anaerobic digesters in series. The results showed a good correlation between the digestion temperature and the magnitude of increase measured after dewatering. As temperature of digestion increased, the magnitude of the increase also increased. The digestion SRT and VS reduction did not correlate well with the magnitude of increase after dewatering and storage. Sampling of several thermophilic Class A plants and a thermophilic Class B plant showed that bacterial pathogens, such as Salmonella, do not increase after dewatering and storage. In comparison, increases in Salmonella densities were observed during cake storage at two Class B mesophilic plants.
New resource on new technologies
Looking for some details about the latest current technologies for wastewater solids treatment, use, and disposal? Look to the recently released Emerging Technologies for Biosolids Management, created by the U. S. EPA Office of Wastewater Management. It reviews various conditioning, thickening, stabilization, dewatering, thermal conversion, drying, and other processes, including distinguishing them as "embryonic" (e.g. no full-scale operation in the U. S.), "innovative" (developing technology), or "established" (widely in use). According to the Executive Summary, "the document... provides information on each technology-its objective, its description, its state of development, available cost information, associated contact names, and related data sources. For each innovative technology, this document further evaluates with respect to various criteria, although it does not rank or recommend any one technology over another. Research needs are also identified to help guide development of innovative and embryonic technologies and improve established ones." It can be downloaded at http://www.epa.gov/OW-OWM.html/mtb/epa-biosolids.pdf.
Halifax Wastewater Treatment Facility Poised to Begin Operations
"The first part of the long-anticipated sewage-treatment plant will be fully operational by December. The Halifax wastewater treatment facility is treating a backlog of sewage and getting ready for a launch. 'It is handling a deluge of back-up black material, or sludge," said Mayor Peter Kelly. 'They are trying to feed it into the plant for treatment. It is hoped that that backlog is complete soon and then go into operational testing,' he said.
Ontario Proposes Revisions to Non-Agricultural Source Materials Regulations
(Appreciation to Shahab Shafai for forwarding this information)
"The Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs have undertaken an initiative to improve the regulatory framework governing application of non-agricultural source materials on agricultural land.... The goal of the proposed NASM framework is to minimize or eliminate the current overlapping approval requirements; develop and revise existing standards for NASM under the NMA to focus on the quality of the materials; and expand the existing framework to include all agricultural land where NASM will be applied in Ontario. The posting of this proposal on the EBR is the first step of a 3-step consultation process. Following this initial posting MOE/OMAFRA will be conducting stakeholder consultation. The third step will be the posting of a draft regulation on the EBR."
Final Report Issued by NH Commission on Fats, Oils, & Grease (FOG)
(from New Hampshire Water Pollution Control Association - NHWPCA)
This Commission was charged "to study ways to encourage the proper recycling and disposal of grease trap wastes and to determine ways to develop additional disposal capacity." The Commission's recently-submitted final report is an excellent summary of the major issues, including development of best management practices for FOG handling. Much work on this initiative was done by Ray Gordon of DES. Recommendations from the report:
"1. Best Management Practices. It is important that wastewater treatment operators and food service establishment owners and managers have access to written Best Management Practices (BMPs) aimed at reducing FOG discharges to sewer systems at food service establishments. The Department of Environmental Services (DES) should formalize its draft BMP document (attached to report), after proper public input, and distribute it to wastewater treatment operators and make it readily available to food service establishment owners.
"2. Technical Assistance and Training. The DES should provide technical assistance and training to municipalities that are interested in developing a grease trap waste control program in their communities.
"3. Education. The DES should work with health officers, restaurant inspectors, and treatment plant operators to educate them about grease traps.
"4. Disposal Capacity. The DES should encourage the development of grease disposal capacity, including the beneficial reuse of the material as a fuel source.
"5. Research. Legislation should be filed in the 2008 session to provide funding to DES's Winnipesaukee River Basin Program to study its ability to treat grease in order to make electricity through a digester and /or to manufacture biodiesel. The electricity or biodiesel could be used by the state or the local (member) communities to reduce energy costs. The approximate cost of the study is $100,000.
"6. Incentives Program. An incentive program should be developed to encourage restaurants to maintain their grease traps on a routine basis. One incentive could be a sticker or green logo to let patrons know that a restaurant is being environmentally responsible with its grease management."
Canadian Biosolids Partnership Grows
In late September, the announcement came that the city of Ottawa has joined the growing Canadian Biosolids Partnership (CBP). Numerous cities and organizations have pledged funding and/or in-kind contributions to the fledgling organization, which is also seeking funding support from the federal government. The CBP's development is being led by the Canadian Water and Wastewater Association (CWWA), which has developed a dedicated CBP website and has added a day-long workshop on the CBP and biosolids the day before its "Window on Ottawa" seminar in mid-November. Topics of the workshop will include fats, oil, and grease (FOG) management; updates on development of the CBP and a national definition of the term "biosolids;" and meetings of stakeholders. See http://www.cwwa.ca/2007wastewaterworkshop_e.asp. The CWWA has developed an informative and growing CBP website: http://www.cwwa.ca/cbp-pcb%5Chome%5Chome_e.asp.
Milwaukee Dealing with Contaminated Batch of Biosolids Pellets
According to news reports and the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD), the District is in the process of disposing of tainted heat-dried pellets - a process that will cost the district approximately $1.8 million. The problem arose when cleaning of old sewer lines released PCBs into the waste stream, contaminating the sludge. Park areas in Milwaukee received applications of the tainted pellets and the district and EPA have been conducting tests over the summer to determine the extent of impacts.
Update on Augusta, GA Lawsuits Over Biosolids Use on Dairy Farms
Another chapter has ended in the Augusta, GA conflict over historic biosolids use on two dairy farms. After years of litigation, a settlement has been reached between the City of Augusta and the R. A. McElmurray & Sons dairy farm whose owners believe that tainted biosolids caused the death of some of their cows in the 1990s.
Gaining Perspective on Water and Wastewater Issues
Update on ABC Biosolids Land Applier Certification Program
The Association of Boards of Certification (ABC) continues to work with a task force of biosolids managers from around the continent to develop a program of testing and certification of biosolids land appliers. This program will be similar to the testing programs for wastewater operators, which ABC manages in many jurisdictions. However, any biosolids land applier testing and certification program would be voluntary; no states or other jurisdictions have plans to require such certification. The idea is that biosolids managers will see benefits, such as recognized competence and credibility, in being voluntarily certified by an independent process that demonstrates their expertise and professionalism.
New NH Study Commission Begins Review of Sewage, Sludge, and Septage Management
Last spring, the newly-Democratic controlled New Hampshire legislature created a new study commission to "study methods and costs of sewage, sludge, and septage disposal." The first meeting was held August 9th, with eight members in attendance, including legislative members and representatives from state agencies (Patricia Hannon and Thomas Siegle of NHDES, Christopher Northrop of NH Energy & Planning, Matthew Cahillane of NH Health & Human Services, and Richard Uncles of NH Agriculture). Discussion focused on obtaining background information on biosolids use in the state and recent biosolids legislation and regulation.
Brunswick, ME Adopts Revised Lawn Care Ordinance Allowing Biosolids
After a court struck down a prohibition on biosolids compost use earlier this year, Brunswick, Maine has adopted a revised ordinance. The prohibition on biosolids compost use was part of the original "Community Health and Lawn Care Ordinance" passed by Town voters last November. The prohibition was found to be illegal because the State of Maine has preemptive authority regarding sewage sludge and biosolids management.
Virginia County Considers Unusual Legal Actions About Biosolids
Thomas Linzey, a Pennsylvania lawyer who co-founded the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund and is working for a Virginia community group opposing the use of biosolids, has convinced Supervisors of Campbell County in Virginia to consider adopting an ordinance that would "ban corporations from spreading sludge on county farmland," according to a January 6th news report in the Lynchburg, VA News & Advance: "The draft ordinance, in general, challenges corporate constitutional rights and reinforces individual citizen's rights on state and national levels....The draft, written by several lawyers including Linzey, cites three democratic documents as the legal base for the argument: the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution and the Virginia Constitution. The dominant theme throughout the draft is that governmental powers have always been derived from the people and the government is responsible for protecting the health and welfare of its citizens."
Changes in Leadership at VT Agency of Natural Resources
Cathy Jamieson has moved up from her position as Section Chief of Residuals Management at the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, Dept. of Environmental Conservation (DEC). In mid-January, Cathy became Solid Waste Program Manager. While her horizons having broadened, Cathy says she hopes "to stay involved with the proposed [residuals] rule revisions (since they are part of the Solid Waste Rules)," which were introduced conceptually late last summer. Cathy ably led the residuals management program in Vermont for many years. Ernie Kelley and John McMurray will continue their work in residuals management while DEC fills the position she has vacated.
Meanwhile, Vermont Governor Jim Douglas (R) has appointed George Crombie, former public works director for the City of Burlington under mayors Bernie Sanders and Peter Clavelle, as Secretary of the Agency of Natural Resources. Crombie took office January 9th. According to a state press release, "Crombie, 58, is a veteran public works, planning and natural resources manager." Most recently, he was public works director for the Town of Plymouth, MA. Before that, he headed the Public Works Department in Nashua, and, while in that position, served for a short time on the NEBRA Board of Directors. "Crombie, an avid skier and hiker, said he is looking forward to leading the Agency of Natural Resources. 'I welcome this exciting opportunity to return to Vermont to champion Governor Douglas' environmental initiatives and improve the services the agency provides to the people of Vermont,' he added. He served in Burlington from 1985 to 1992 where, among other things, he managed a $52 million pollution abatement program for Lake Champlain. After working for Sanders and Clavelle, Crombie served in the administration of Massachusetts Governor William Weld from 1992-1999, first as Regional Director of the Department of Environment Protection and then as Undersecretary of Environmental Affairs...."
Synagro Completes Woonsocket Incinerator Upgrades
According to the Woonsocket, Rhode Island Call, recent upgrades to the local sewage sludge incinerator have led to significant reductions in malodors reaching the neighboring community.
NEBRA and MWWCA Respond to Toxics Action Center
In October 2001, the Maine office of the New England environmental community action organization, Toxics Action Center, published a report condemning biosolids recycling in Maine. NEBRA and the Maine Waste Water Control Association responded in March, 2003. A PDF version of the response is available; click below.
Update: Organic Chemical Contaminants in Biosolids - More Research Results
Results are coming in from an increasing number of studies investigating the presence and quantities of organic chemical contaminants in biosolids. Building on several years of growing attention on certain groups of chemicals of emerging interest (e.g. endocrine disrupters, pharmaceuticals, personal care products), more and more studies are looking not only at chemicals in receiving waters downstream of wastewater treatment plants, but also in biosolids. Conferences and workshops regarding the presence, fate, and impacts of organic chemical contaminants in wastewater are proliferating - including a workshop at this year's WEFTEC in Dallas on "Compounds of Emerging Concern," an upcoming WEF webcast, and NEIWPCC's "Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products: State of the Science" conference next August in Portland, Maine.
Federal Guidance Issued Regarding Unused Drugs
Detection of traces of pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) in biosolids and in waters receiving wastewater effluents has stimulated a national discussion on what should be done with unused drugs. While research on the fate and impacts of such chemicals in the environment is still new and developing, there is evidence that some cause harm to aquatic organisms.
Asbestos Mine Being Reclaimed
(from Québec Minist�re du Développement durable, de l'Environnement et des Parcs (MDDEP))
New England Biosolids Programs Highlight Potential of Renewable Energy Markets
A recent article in BioCycle reviews the state of renewable energy markets and state government incentive programs around the country. Two New England biosolids management programs are highlighted in the article: the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) and Essex Junction, Vermont. Both agencies, varying greatly in size, have managed to develop beneficial programs and contracts to generate revenue and cost-savings from utilization of digester gas to produce electricity. Wilson Rickerson, an energy analyst at the Center for Sustainable Energy at Bronx Community College in New York, author of the article, notes "the bottom line is that WWTPs in many states have a rapidly expanding menu of green power options available to them. For facilities that already have electricity generating digesters, the green power markets provide a way to gain extra revenue and additional recognition for their contribution to energy independence and the environment. For facilities that do not combust their digester gas for electricity, or facilities without digesters at all, the green power markets may provide an interesting avenue for exploring new biosolids management strategies."
Research Finds Low Risk of Microbial Infection from Biosolids Land Application
New England Biosolids Legislation Round-Up
State legislatures have been wrestling with the perennial issues - budgets and... not biosolids - not this year, for the most part.
Volunteer Certification Program for Land Appliers Being Developed by ABC
The Association of Boards of Certification (ABC) has convened an "Ad Hoc Biosolids Committee" to further the development of a voluntary certification program for those involved in biosolids land application. The biosolids land applier certification program would be similar to other ABC programs, such as those for wastewater treatment operators and lab analysts, but it will be voluntary. No state has shown interest in having to administer yet another required certification program, so the voluntary certification might be offered by a professional organization or other entity. Land appliers wishing to voluntarily improve their professional credentials would take an ABC land applier exam to attain certification from the certifying organization.... But these and many other details are preliminary and still have to be worked out by ABC, with the help of the new Ad Hoc Biosolids Committee.
Keene WWTP Continues Continual Improvements
Donna Hanscom remembers when canoers remarked that there were "no recognizable floatables" in the Ashuelot River in the spring after the December 1985 start-up of the Keene, New Hampshire Wastewater Treatment Plant. Nineteen years later, after having moved to Keene from Maine to take a job in the new plant's laboratory, Hanscom now heads the treatment plant. "The river's much better than it was," she says, "but there are still issues and improvements yet to come."