EPA Electronic Reporting Training for Biosolids Generators

EPA, National (11/26/18) - This information comes from our West Coast colleague at Orange County. At our MABA meeting, we learned that the EPA has seen many mistakes with public agency electronic submissions of Part 503 Annual Reports. What is more, the system is still under development. The EPA has organized trainings to assist biosolid users to electronically report their annual Biosolids data. The 2018 Biosolids Electronic Annual Program Report Training will provide participants with an overview of Biosolids Annual Report and background information to the eRule and how it affected the development of the Electronic Biosolids Form.  The training will explain access request process as well as provide a demo of how to complete the Electronic Biosolids Form.

Two things:

  1. EPA database training is coming up for their new online form (updated 2018). See dates below. I haven’t seen anyone communicating this info, but I may have missed it, so I just wanted to make you aware.

  2. Training sessions are important, especially this year because EPA has added an additional reporting requirement for POTWs to put in third-party handling data:

This is my biggest concern with the new EPA report form. We pulled some text from the new Biosolids User’s Guide and pasted it below. I read it to mean a BIG change from previous electronic reporting year’s where POTWs entered ONLY our own biosolids analytical data, and now they want us to enter the land app / composter’s data also! We have mentioned this to Lauren Fondahl when I noticed this new section in the EPA beta test form. We were hoping it would become optional, but it doesn’t seem optional based on the info below. This will add a LOT of work to completing the forms, no mind the duplicative work since many POTWs will be entering the Same data plus the composters are also entering their data.

Facilities that use a third-party handler, preparer, or applier will need to obtain the reporting data to successfully complete the Annual Biosolids report. For example, if a POTW selects “Land Application / Agricultural Land Application / Bulk / Third-Party” it will be required to enter data for the compliance monitoring events. The POTW may need to contact the third-party handler, preparer, or applier to complete the report.

It is important to note that you should select “Off-Site Third-Party Handler or Applier” or “Off-Site Third-Party Preparer” in scenarios where you generate sewage sludge, but another separate entity provides a service to handle or prepare your sewage sludge. This is often done by commercial enterprises offering services for sewage sludge handling and preparing (e.g., composting) and/or management (e.g., land application, surface disposal, incineration, or other management practice such as disposal in municipal solid waste landfill). A key distinction used in the form is that the third-party handler or preparer is an entity that takes full possession of the sewage sludge from the POTW and makes decisions independent of the POTW regarding the handling, preparing, and ultimate management of the sewage sludge received from the POTW.

MABA’s Annual Meeting and Symposium November 14, 2018

Edison, NJ (11/14/18) – More than 50 wastewater and biosolids practitioners from the Mid-Atlantic will convene in Edison, NJ for MABA’s Annual Meeting and Symposium. It will be an intentional discussion of regional solutions to biosolids challenges for growing new facilities. We welcome a diverse range of speakers presenting on, public outreach challenges, successful treatment approaches and regulatory issues with a panel discussion featuring state regulators.

We share with you, MABA’s Executive Director, Bill Toffey’s, opening presentation “Framing the Regional Issues: Bringing Global Perspectives to Local Challenges”.

An update will be sent out when all of the presentations from this year’s Annual Meeting and Symposium become available on the MABA Members site.

PA Legislative Finance Committee Biosolids Land Application Review Findings and Recommendation

The PA Legislative Finance Committee completed the report requested in the House Resolution 60 on Biosolids land application in Pennsylvania. Review the findings, recommendation and the full report. 

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Virginia Court Upholds VA DEQ Regulations Against Riverkeeper Challenges

The Virginia Biosolids Council reports that the Richmond Circuit Court has upheld the new DEQ Biosolids Regulations against the Potomac/Shenandoah Riverkeeper’s legal challenge. The Court Finding can be downloaded here. The Court found that there was substantial evidence to support the Board's decision to approve the amendments and that its regulations properly managed land application of biosolids. Its Expert Panel, supported by a Technical Advisory Committee, had concluded that land application is a viable reuse of biosolids that has been shown to be protective of the environment when applicable law and regulations are followed.

Plainfield Slate Belt Heat Recovery Center

Green Knight Economic Development Corp. selected Synagro Technologies to develop the $20 million Slate Belt Heat Recovery Center in Plainfield Township, Pennsylvania. Synagro’s facility will harness excess heat from the gas-to-energy plant near the Grand Central Sanitary Landfill, which uses methane from the landfill to generate electricity.

Synagro’s facility that will accept solid residue from municipal wastewater facilities and produce a Class A biosolids. The project will begin construction in 2017 and is expected to start operating by 2018, bring temporary construction jobs as well as permanent jobs to the community.

View the Press Release and the Synagro Pen-Argyle-Slate Belt page to learn more about the project.

Pennsylvania's House Bill 738

A lawsuit between Spicer Family Farms and a Benner Township resident that resulted in Spicer Farms withdrawing its biosolids land application permit has sparked more legislative attention. The PA House of Representatives approved House Bill 738 on June 23, 2016, proposed by Rep. Mike Hanna. The bill requires the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee look at methods used to spread biosolids.

A report will  be made within a year of the bill’s passing to define the current costs, disposal methods, enforcement programs and appropriate alternatives to what is in place in Pennsylvania or other states. The bill will also prohibit the application of biosolids in areas with source water protection.


Local news reporting on Bill 738 is below:

House Votes in Favor of Review to Determine Biosolids Benefits

Stronger Biosolids Regulations Needed

Poll: Should Treated Sludge be Used as Fertilizer on Farms?

Class A Biosolids from Hermitage

The Hermitage Wastewater treatment plant uses advanced anaerobic digestion to break down waste and produce biogas. The plan uses the biogas to generate electricity and heat for the facilities. The facility has been accepting food waste in addition to sewage to increase its biogas production. After years of planning, the facility received approval from the PA Department of Environmental Protection in June of 2016 for its Class A biosolids product.

Farmers and firms are beginning to take the next step to take the biosolids and apply it to their land. The authority expects to produce about 3,00 tons of sludge each year and will sell the product. Jason Wert from RETTEW worked with Hermitage on the plant design and construction. Check you Jason's presentation from the MABA 2015 Symposium. 

A Recent Report by Regional Biosolids Associations

The Biosolids Land Application and Food Crop Quality Assurance Scheme is a document supported by several regional biosolids associations (including the Mid-Atlantic Biosolids Association) with the help of Dr. Jorge Tarchirzky and Dr. Yossi Inbard from Israeli composting plants “Compost Or” and “Compost Shluhot”. It explores several topics: 1) what is biosolids and their composition, 2) outlets for disposal and beneficial use, and 3) the benefits and risks associated with land application in comparison to other exposure sources. The piece also explores preventative measures to mitigate risks of biosolids. It reviews conclusions of current risk assessment studies, and it explores the potential of quality assurance schemes to achieve confidence in beneficial biosolids reuse. This document draws from international research projects and is insightful and thorough in its exploration or biosolids. An entertaining read for anyone interested in the use of biosolids.

Right to Farm Ruling for York County Biosolids Application

Synagro Central received a permit in 2005 from the Department of Environmental Protection to apply biosolids to farmland in York County, PA. In July 2008, residents living near the farm began filing complaints stating the company was trespassing on land and was creating a health hazard by using biosolids.
On October 9,2014 the Pennsylvania Supreme Court granted review of a 34 plaintiff tort case where landowners were questioning the land application of biosolids in York County, PA. In the case Gilbert v. Synagro Central, the court unanimously held that biosolids application is a “normal agricultural operation” protected by the Right to Farm Act.
Members of the Mid Atlantic Biosolids Association were  involved in providing research in determining the safety of biosolids for the case. This is a monumental ruling that could be used by other states when questioning the land application of biosolids. For more information about the court case view the National Review’s Article Unanimous Ruling in Pennsylvania Supreme Court Shields Biosolids Land Application for Tort Claims.

DC Water Producing Electricity

The Facility

The DC Water Waste to Energy (W2E) project started producing electricity this September using its new solids handling processes. The project is located at the Blue Plains Advanced Wastewater Treatment Plant. The plant currently treats about 300 million gallons of raw sewage a day from the District of Columbia and from counties in Maryland and Virginia. The facility has a power output of 10 MW, which is enough to power one third of the Blue Plains Advanced Wastewater Treatment Plant.

This project is a major public investments in solids processing. Its price tag is around $470 million and took four years to build. The project’s construction included a dewatering building, 32 thermal hydrolysis vessels, four anaerobic digesters capable of holding 3.8 million gallons of solids each, and three turbines the size of jet engines. The plant expects to save $10 million on energy costs, $2 million on treatment chemicals, and an additional $11 million annually in trucking expenses for solids removal.

Prior to breaking ground in 2011, DC water conducted over a decade’s worth of research. Eventually the agency found the project would best be served using the CAMBI thermal hydrolysis process.

Thermal Hydrolysis Technology

The W2E project is the first in North America to use thermal hydrolysis technology. This technology application from Cambi is the largest such facility in the world. Thermal hydrolysis is a two stage process where a combination of high-pressure and heat are used to 'cook' sewage sludge. In the second stage the sludge is quickly sent to a different chamber where rapid decompression occurs. The result is sterilized sewage. But mutually important, this feed is digestible, and an increased amount of methane gas can be produced compared to standard digestion. Methane extracted in the process is sent to power electric generators, for which the agency has installed three 5 Megawatt turbines. Steam generated in the process is also reused for the CAMBI system.

Class B to Class A Biosolids

Before the W2E project, Blue Plains trucked Class B biosolids to local agricultural facilities. 60 truckloads of the material left the plant daily. The trucks traveled to farms in Virginia, which was not only pricey, but resulted in the emission of much carbon from diesel fuel usage.

The new facility will cut the amount of solids leaving the plant for land application in half and reduce the distance some of the sludge travels. What does leave the plant is a higher quality, class A biosolids. Class A biosolids have been treated in order to kill nearly all pathogens. This product can be applied to land in an urban area as well as farmland in the surrounding area.

Most exciting for the biosolids profession is the prospect of high quality biosolids being deployed in landscapes in and around DC.  The biosolids leaving Blue Plains may one day be on shelves of garden centers and home improvement stores throughout metropolitan Washington. To help support this prospect, a study is underway, funded by the Water Environment Research Foundation. DC Water is part of a team looking into into the preparation of urban soil products using this new biosolids material and into successful marketing strategies for biosolids-based products. You can learn more as this program develops by visiting our Facebook page for this research, High Quality Biosolids.