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:

  • Public concern continues to spread some: Wilson officials are opposed to the idea of local biosolids use on soils:  Lockport Union-Sun & Journal.  
  • But there are indications that the early tide toward local restrictions is ebbing.  Wales has been going more slowly: Buffalo News.  And Marilla, one of the first towns to take action, placing a moratorium last year, has decided to let its moratorium expire, despite some citizens' objections: Buffalo News
  • The Farm Bureaus of Niagara County and New York state have come out vocally in support of biosolids use as a normal farming practice that should be regulated at the state level, not locally: Buffalo News, Watertown Daily Times.
  •  A bill that would allow local control was introduced to the state legislature.
  • The Niagara Gazette editorialized about the need for more research and noted that area legislators are urging DEC to conduct some.  (Ed. note: It is not unusual for local stakeholders to ask for local research, despite thousands of published research papers regarding bioslids management, including studies in similar soils and contexts.)

Local debate can be a good thing: more people are learning about biosolids management.  And if a discussion continues long enough, usually a moderate position accepting of biosolids is reached.  It also makes a difference that the spector of state preemption on the matter makes local action subject to potential legal action, which is the case in Wheatfield, where quasar energy group is challenging the local ban on biosoilds use.