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LOOKING INTO A PRISM - THE DEVELOPMENT OF A BIOSOLIDS LAND APPLICATION ORDINANCE
Author: Hal Schmidt
Date: 4/105
2005 WEF/AWWA/KY-TN WEA Residuals & Biosolids Mgt. conf.

Over the past 10 years, the concerns regarding the land application and beneficial reuse of biosolids in the United States have risen to the forefront of environmental and public focus. In fact, public outcry and crusades have lead to a call for banning or imposing additional local controls on the beneficial reuse of biosolids in a growing number of municipalities in some parts of the United States (e.g., California, Florida, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Virginia). The issues and concerns being encountered have a common thread: the perception that the application of biosolids is unsafe, regardless of the provisions that have been employed to treat, manage, and regulate the biosolids land application sites. When developing a land application ordinance to regulate the beneficial reuse of biosolids, the goals and objectives should be equitable to all stakeholders and should include sound management practices. Who are the stakeholders? They can include, but are not limited to, the public, regulatory agencies, city and county officials, the biosolids industry, scientists, and utilities. Unquestionably, the biosolids industry and utilities have to work with the public to improve their understanding of the beneficial reuse of biosolids. Generally, the public views the land application of biosolids with a certain level of disdain. They argue that there is a possibility that the treated biosolids might contain unacceptable levels of heavy metals, pathogens, and other contaminants that may be harmful to neighbors of land application sites, as well as living creatures and the environment despite the management procedures and precautions in place. On the other side of the issue, the biosolids industry, including scientific research teams, must provide the public with assurances that the land application of biosolids is a safe process when properly stabilized, monitored, regulated, and tested to ensure the public’s health and safety as well as the protection of the environment. This paper provides an overview of the history of biosolids management programs and includes the following specific details: • How ordinances are developed for the beneficial reuse and land application of biosolids and the methodology behind a truly successful program. • The issues commonly raised by the public and the biosolids industry during the drafting of these ordinances. • The problems typically encountered when developing ordinances to regulate the beneficial reuse of biosolids. • The problems and solutions associated with developing fair and equitable ordinances that address all of the stakeholders’ issues adequately.