SPOTLIGHT on Biosolids OPs (Old Professionals)

Two hundred years... that is approximately the combined years of experience of the biosolids practitioners of this month's SPOTLIGHT.  This past month we had a fabulous "meet and greet" organized by MABA Board member Carolyn Christy of YPs, those wonderfully talented and committed folks new to the biosolids profession whom we call "Young Professionals." We, who have decades of experience, who have seen the development of national standards, who were present for the launch of the new word "biosolids," are now cheering the brilliance of the YPs who have joined our niche in environmental stewardship. We will hear from a few of these YPs in April. But please join us in celebrating a few of the OPs, "the Old Professionals."

Robert (Bob) Adamski 

Bob AdamskiRobert (Bob) Adamski, retired NYCDEP and Gannett Fleming, ([email protected], (917) 836-2614). Bob’s environmental engineering career started with service in the US Army Corps of Engineers, including environmental assessments in the New York metropolitan area. Bob was at NYCDEP when New York got "out of the ocean" and helped set up the beneficial land-based alternatives. “I went on to become Deputy Commissioner and was involved nationally in WEF's and NACWA's Biosolids Committees with setting up the third-party verification of compliance.” He moved to the private sector, for ten years as VP with Gannett Fleming.  Since retiring, Bob continues to share information on biosolid issues, both nationally and internationally. He has been involved in water and sanitation projects in developing countries, serving on the Boards of Water For People and Hermandad and as Chair of NYWEA's Humanitarian Assistance Committee. He is a local director of the American Society of Military Engineers.


Robert (Bob) Pepperman

Bob PeppermanRobert (Bob) Pepperman, Synagro, ([email protected], 443-510-5695).  Bob has been employed in the biosolids management industry for 38 years. A holder of two degrees from Penn State (BS ERM, 76; MS Agronomy, 81), Bob began his career developing approaches for reclamation of disturbed lands, including the use of biosolids, for an engineering consultant in Pittsburgh.  Since moving to Baltimore in 1984, he has filled multiple roles in the industry, ranging from lead agronomist to managing biosolids-derived product distribution and to his current position in business development. Among his “favorite” projects was the assessment of subsequent development of a model for nitrogen transformation within the deep-row method of biosolids application for land reclamation.  He was a key member of the team that enabled New York to cease ocean disposal of biosolids. He and his colleagues established the program that ultimately shipped over 1,000,000 tons of NYC’s dewatered cake via rail to southeastern Colorado for beneficial use, the largest US biosolids project no one ever heard about.  In addition to his current development role, Bob also works with Synagro’s Legislative Affairs/Compliance team in addressing new regulatory initiatives. Growing up in Camp Hill (PA), Bob was a fan of all things Philadelphia (Flyers, Phillies, Eagles and, most importantly, cheesesteaks) but having married a Pittsburgh native he has, in the interest of domestic harmony, become a Steelers season ticket holder. 

Diane Garvey 

Diane HarveyDiane Garvey, Garvey Resources, Inc. (215-362-4444, [email protected]). Diane, principal of her residuals consultancy, was present at the very start of the modern biosolids era. Her career began as an entry-level engineer with the Philadelphia Water Department, witnessing the last barge load of ocean dispersed sludge, and leading its iconic research at Penn State on demonstrating the use of wastewater solids for reclaiming Pennsylvania’s surface mining. Diane served as state, regional, and national leader in this emerging professional practice, leading a new biosolids committee that helped guide Pennsylvania regulations after Part 503 was promulgated. She served as Program Chair for the WEF Residuals and Biosolids Committee in Kansas City. Diane became a certified nutrient management specialist in Maryland and Pennsylvania, and she participated in WERF research on biosolids cost accounting and on pathogen regrowth and odor. Diane married an agronomist colleague at PWD, raised two boys, and has all along kept an active life. She has been skiing in Switzerland, river cruising in Europe, horseback riding in the Wissahickon, and rescuing over 200 Weimaraners. Today, Diane also embraces her role as a grandparent to three with two more on the way, the next generation of environmentalists.  


A. Thomas Ferrero, Jr.

Tom FerreroA. Thomas (Tom) Ferrero, Jr., NAWC Environmental LLC ([email protected], (267) 250-4068).  Tom began as a septic tank pumper in a family-owned business that his father started in 1941. Tom never strayed too far from a septic tank! Tom has a B.S. degree in Civil Engineering and has been a certified Sewage Treatment Plant Operator and Sewage Enforcement Officer. From 1970 to 1998 he owned and managed a full-service septic system company, and developed, and continues to use daily (e.g., 35 MG in 2020), a process which pretreats septage prior to introduction of the liquid faction into a municipal sewage collection system and landfills or beneficially uses the dewatered solids. Tom has held positions in the septage industry Associations on a National, State, and local level, and his leadership includes being MABA’s first treasurer. He is a past President of the National Association of Wastewater Technicians (NAWT) and currently the Association’s Secretary. While no longer flying, Tom, a private pilot, could often be found flying around Pennsylvania and the surrounding states rallying support for the unification and training of septage haulers. Tom would prefer to be found miles out in the ocean hunting for elusive game fish and is looking forward to 2021 better than 2020 for fishing and traveling the United States with his wife of 53 years, Eileen, in their 5th wheel travel trailer.

Trudy Johnston

Trudy JohnstonTrudy Johnston, Managing Director, Material Matters, Inc. (717) 367-9697 x102, [email protected]). Trudy has been in the wastewater field and biosolids community for nearly 40 years. The specialty consulting firm she helped establish in 1997 offers a wide range of services for managing and recycling residuals, evaluating residuals programs, conducting market studies, and acquiring regulatory permits. This huge commitment to biosolids does not stop her from enjoying gardening and flowers, but you might guess that biosolids samples that come into the office abet her hobby and generally end up in her large garden or flower beds.  She eats the vegetables from her garden yet does not consider herself a “highly exposed individual,” and she is consistently proving that healthy biosolids-amended soils grow exceptional vegetables!  She and her husband (nicknamed poor Ray or Saint Ray) also have two large composters where they compost most yard waste (with a biosolids boost from time to time) and return it to the garden.  Trudy has a daughter and 2 grandsons that also occupy her time.  She runs, hikes, bikes, and lifts weights, which leaves no time for relaxing.  “After all,” she says. ” when I get old, I want to be able to transfer from the wheelchair to the toilet by myself.”