2004 brings good news for biosolids recycling

The Water Environment Federation (WEF) welcomes good news for biosolids recycling -- the practice of treating, processing, and recycling organic wastewater byproduct into fertilizer and other usable products -- and applauds the recent actions of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in support of the practice.

Jan 30th, 2004


Jan. 27, 2004 -- The Water Environment Federation (WEF) welcomes good news for biosolids recycling -- the practice of treating, processing, and recycling organic wastewater byproduct into fertilizer and other usable products -- and applauds the recent actions of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in support of the practice.

The National Biosolids Partnership (NBP), which includes WEF as one of its partnering organizations, is expecting success this year with its pilot-tested environmental management system (EMS) for the biosolids program. EMS verification signifies that an agency supports excellence in biosolids management, exceeds regulatory compliance obligations, and provides meaningful opportunities for public participation. To date, two agencies have achieved independent, third-party verification and a total of seventeen new agencies are expected to undergo audits in 2004.

Recently, several court decisions over local regulation of land-applied biosolids have been in favor of the practice. In November 2003, a Federal Court ruled to reject anti-biosolids ordinances in Appomattox County, Virginia capping a string of legal victories for Virginia farmers seeking to end the County's illegal ban on biosolids.

According to Mike Moore, Chair of WEF's Residuals and Biosolids Committee, "WEF is pleased by the positive progress of the biosolids recycling program and believes that the recent collective actions taken by EPA demonstrate that it is committed to the program's success and supports ongoing research while encouraging wastewater agencies to better manage their biosolids through an EMS."

On 10-7-03 a petition from the Center for Food Safety called for EPA to place an emergency moratorium on the land-application of biosolids. WEF was part of a Municipal Coalition that submitted a response letter to EPA on 10-23-03 urging the Agency to deny the Center's petition. On 12-22-03, the EPA responded to the Center with a 22-page document outlining its findings -- that the assertions made by the Center for Food Safety concerning the hazards of land-applied biosolids were not substantiated.

In related actions, on 12-31-03 EPA published in the Federal Register its final action plan responding to the National Research Council's recommendations from its July 2002 report on the land application of biosolids. The plan included 14 specific projects to enhance the Agency's ongoing research and outreach activities and presents the results of its review of existing biosolids regulations to identify additional pollutants for potential future regulations.

The Agency also issued a proposed rule on 12-10-03 to revise the current compost designation to include compost made from biosolids and announced on 10-17-03 its final decision not to regulate dioxins in land-applied biosolids. After five years of study, including outside peer review, EPA determined that dioxins from this source do not pose a significant risk to human health or the environment.

WEF will hold its 18th Annual Residuals and Biosolids Management Conference, February 22-24, 2004 at the Grand America Hotel in Salt Lake City, Utah, where these and other topics will be discussed. For more information about the conference, visit www.wef.org. To obtain background information on these recent actions visit www.biosolids.org. Media inquiries should be directed to Lori Burkhammer at 703-684-2400 ext. 7020 or lburkhammer@wef.org.

Founded in 1928, the Water Environment Federation (WEF) is a not-for-profit technical and educational organization with members from varied disciplines who work toward the WEF vision of preservation and enhancement of the global water environment. The WEF network includes water quality professionals from 79 Member Associations in over 30 countries.

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