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[GreenYes] Biosolids-Update

Because the topic of biosolids occasionally comes up on this page, what
follows is from a recent e-newsletter of the National Biosolids Partnership;
note the link to the full report:

New Preliminary National Report on Biosolids in the U.S. Available. The long
awaited results are in, the EPA-grant funded project New England Biosolids &
Residuals Association (NEBRA) has been working on for over 18 months has
concluded. The preliminary report titled "A National Biosolids Regulation,
Quality, End Use & Disposal Survey." provides a national summary regarding
biosolids in the U. S., with additional state-by-state data.

Executive Summary
In the United States, the infrastructure that leads to the production of
sewage sludge (also called "wastewater solids," and -- when treated and
tested for use on soils - "biosolids") includes 16,583 wastewater treatment
facilities, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA). Of
these, the largest ~3,300 generate more than 92% of the total quantity of
wastewater solids produced in the U. S. The data reported below are derived
from reporting and compilation systems that account mostly for these larger

The treated solids - biosolids - removed from wastewater at these wastewater
treatment facilities - can be legally used or disposed of in three ways: by
application of treated and tested solids (biosolids) to soils, by
landfilling (or surface disposal), and by incineration. The Clean Water Act
provides the legal basis for management of biosolids nationwide, and
regulations at 40 CFR Part 503 (Part 503) establish minimum national
standards that are protective of public health and the environment. Each
local wastewater treatment facility makes its own decision regarding how
their solids are managed.

Data compiled from state regulatory agencies, U. S. Environmental Protection
Agency (USEPA) offices, individual wastewater treatment facilities, and
other sources indicate that 7,180,000 dry U. S. tons of biosolids were
beneficially used or disposed in the fifty states in 2004.

Of that total, approximately 55% were applied to soils for agronomic,
silvicultural, and/or land restoration purposes, or were stored for such
uses. The remaining 45% were disposed of in municipal solid waste (MSW)
landfills, surface disposal units, and/or incineration facilities.

Of the total applied to soils, 74% was used on farmlands for agricultural
purposes. Another 22% were treated and tested to meet the U.S. EPA's
highest quality classification ("Class A EQ"), and were publicly distributed
for a variety of uses, including landscaping, horticulture, and agriculture.
Small percentages were used for land restoration and in silviculture.

Of the total not beneficially used, most (63%) were disposed of in MSW
landfills. Thirty-three percent were processed in incinerators, while the
remaining 4% were placed in biosolids-only surface disposal units.

Of the total 7,180,000 dry U. S. tons of biosolids in 2004, approximately
23% were treated to Class A standards - and almost all of that met Class A
EQ standards. Another 34% were treated to Class B standards. For the
remainder (43%), there is no data (or no data was obtained) regarding
whether or not it met Class A or Class B standards. This lack of data is
mostly due to the fact that wastewater solids that are landfilled or
incinerated are not generally subjected to the same stabilization, testing,
and reporting requirements.

Most states have additional regulatory programs that go above and beyond
Part 503. Thirty-seven states require management practices for land
application that are more stringent than those in Part 503, and sixteen have
adopted pollutant limits that are more stringent than those in Part
503.Seven states have received formal delegation for administration of Part
503, and most state regulatory programs work with relatively up-to-date
regulations and are addressing current issues. However, the number of
full-time equivalent employees (FTEs) working on biosolids at state agencies
nationwide appears to have declined by at least eight.

Overall, current data suggest little change nationwide, since the late
1990s, in the rate of biosolids recycling (USEPA, 1999), and half of state
biosolids coordinators report that biosolids beneficial use is not
increasing in their states.

To download the preliminary report visit
<> and click on the headline Biosolids in the US
- A New National Report.

Kendall Christiansen

Gaia Strategies

151 Maple Street

Brooklyn, NY 11225

o: 718.941.9535; cell: 917.359.0725

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