Feature Stories Archive
Biosolids are frequently applied directly to cropland, pastures or timberland, where they decompose, furnishing nitrogen, phosphorus and potash to growing plants. This method offers a more ecologically sound and practical alternative to domestic waste disposal than landfills or incineration, that may result in water or air pollution.
Nutrient cycles have been studied thoroughly in forested and agricultural ecosystems (Facelli and Pickett 1991; Wardle 1992; Attiwell and Adams 1993; Mary et al. 1996). In contrast, nutrient cycling has received little attention in ornamental landscapes, and the effects of mulch on soil fertility have been largely ignored.
Composting, essentially a rapid, self-heating process by which organic material is decomposed and stabilized, was practiced by ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans and is even mentioned in religious texts. During the past 20 years, this time-honored practice has developed into a robust waste-management technology that generates valuable organic soil amendments.
The Orange County Sanitation District (OCSD), Fountain Valley, CA was honored at a ceremony on Thursday, August 7, 2003 as the first public wastewater agency in the nation to receive national certification of its Environmental Management System (EMS) for biosolids. District leaders were recognized by officials from the National Biosolids Partnership, WEF, AMSA, and the United States Environmental Protection Agency. August 8, 2003
Presentation by Ian Pepper WEF Specialty Conference 2003. In what could be useful information for government agencies, biosolids land application companies, and municipal wastewater treatment plants, scientists have concluded that the chance of someone contacting Staphylococcus aureus through the air is exceedingly low.
The concept of using organic wastes as fertilizer is not new. Before the industrial age in the 1940s when synthetic N fertilizer became widely available, animal manure and human waste were the primary amendments to agricultural soils for improving crop yields around the world. Crop fertilization with organic waste has received renewed interest as municipalities face increasing disposal problems. Florida's human population growth from 4 million in 1955 to 16 million in 2000 is among the highest in the nation. Prohibition of waste dumping in streams and oceans, diminishing landfill space, skyrocketing landfill costs, and concerns over air pollution from incineration of waste have contributed to a strong public interest in finding alternative, environmentally sound solutions to waste disposal
Land application of biosolids is giving rise to more and more apprehension, or even opposition, especially from people living next to application sites. However, the scientific studies indicate that the risks for exposed workers, such as farmers, are relatively low and even extremely low for people living in the vicinity of the sites where biosolids are being applied. Available information also suggests that the potential health risks are relatively lower than those associated with the management of manure .
Concerned over protecting the Chesapeakes sensitive estuaries and facing a string of operating problems, Marylands Anne Arundel County adds lime into its biosolids treatment process and produces an award-winning program that wins over farmers and government officials alike.
With eight million residents and 14 wastewater treatment plants in five boroughs that treat 1.7 billion gallons a day of wastewater, New York demonstrates how creating Class A fertilizer pellets solves a problem and generates a valued fertilizer product.
Faced with a breakdown in its wastewater treatment plants stabilization systems, Grand Rapids finds a long-term solution in a dewatering program that relies on biosolids landfilling and land application while streamlining plant operations and reducing landfill tonnages.
In Burlington County, N.J., a desire for self-sufficiency in solid waste management leads to a model four-year-old co-composting program that blends biosolids, shredded wood and other organic wastes to produce exceptional quality compost that is successfully marketed to landscapers, nurseries and golf courses.