National environmental management program launched in San Diego

Twenty-seven charter wastewater treatment agencies around the country will pilot test a voluntary residuals management system that goes beyond mandatory regulatory requirements and includes third party verification of the results.

Feb. 20, 2001—Twenty-seven charter wastewater treatment agencies around the country will pilot test a voluntary residuals management system that goes beyond mandatory regulatory requirements and includes third party verification of the results.

The new program was introduced and discussed at a preconference workshop Feb. 21 in conjunction with "Building Public Support," a residuals and biosolids management conference for water quality professionals sponsored by the Water Environment Federation. The conference runs Feb. 21-24 in San Diego.

The 27 agencies will participate in an Environmental Management System (EMS), a program to help municipal wastewater agencies improve management practices for biosolids. The agencies are pilot-testing the EMS "Blueprint" that will be used as a national model in many more communities around the country once it is refined. The model program, which will roll out on full scale in early 2002, is being developed by the National Biosolids Partnership (NBP), which includes conference co-sponsor WEF, the Association of Metropolitan Sewerage Agencies (AMSA), and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The partnership's EMS blueprint materials include a code of good practice, EMS elements and guidance, manual of good practice, and the 3rd party verification recommendations. The EMS is designed to increase the cost-effectiveness, safety and efficiency of wastewater programs that manage biosolids, addresses community environmental concerns, and fosters continuous improvement in biosolids management practices.

All wastewater treatment plants must comply with strict federal, state and local regulations to ensure their biosolids are treated and managed properly. Under current regulations, plants have management options ranging from recycling biosolids on land as fertilizer to using them as groundcover for landfills. By choosing to participate in the EMS program, agencies will address unregulated areas such as odor and noise and develop tailored solutions that meet the unique requirements of specific communities.

Through an EMS, the communities consider factors such as available land use possibilities, budgetary requirements, population size and existing treatment plant technology, and then develop a program that exceeds regulatory requirements in a way that satisfies community expectations for clean water residuals management.

The workshop kicks off the week at the residuals conference, a showcase for the latest biosolids issues and technologies from around the world. Other conference highlights include 21 technical sessions, an exhibit hall, and a keynote address by Dr. Margaret Maxey of the University of Texas at Austin, who will argue that opposition to effective biosolids management programs constitute a contradiction for a nation that professes to support recycling.

For more information about the National Biosolids Partnership and the EMS program, visit www.biosolids.org.

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