MidAtlantic Biosolids Association

Biosolids NewsClips: Connecting Biosolids to the World

News from Within the MABA Region

BMPS & Pollution Prevention for Biosolids Management
Water & Waste Digest (10/2/19) - Robert Arner, life coach for Re-gain Consulting, gives a broad overview of best management practices of biosolids and highlights the benefits and concerns around land application of biosolids.

News from Beyond the MABA Region

Poop Talk in Oct. 3
Coupeville, WA (10/2/19) - Washington State University Extension is hosting a community discussion where scientists and experts in the field of biosolids will speak and answer questions about biosolids recycling. This discussion was organized to address community concerns about land application of biosolids.

What Makes Foods Today Toxic To Our Body?
Medical Daily (10/3/19) - “One agricultural expert examined three major sources of toxicity in food: phosphate fertilizers, glyphosate herbicides and biosolids (which are human waste used as fertilizer). He said these three toxins do their damage during the plants’ growth phase.”

Biosolids: Mix Human Waste with Toxic Chemicals, then Spread on Crops
The Guardian (10/5/19) - This article focuses on concerns surrounding biosolids land application.

Concerns Rise Over Tainted Sewage Sludge on Croplands
Lapeer, MI (10/4/19) - The town of Lapeer stopped supplying local farms with biosolids fertilizers in 2017 after state inspectors found biosolids were contaminated with PFAS. The city is now paying more to properly dispose of its biosolids and farmers are not benefiting from the low cost fertilizer. 

Compost Swap at Santa Rosa Sewage Plant Could Ease Path for Green-Waste Site, but Neighbors Skeptical
Santa Rosa, CA (10/5/19) - Santa Rosa Board of Public Utilities is looking to outsource its biosolids composting management which would free up the current facility that composts biosolids to be used as a green waste composting facility. 

Brevard Commissioners OK Six-Month Moratorium on Expansion of Spreading of Sewage Sludge
Brevard County, FL (10/9/19) - “Brevard County's six-month moratorium on expanded application of sewage sludge is now on the books, after a final unanimous vote by the County Commission.” The article below about the Annual State of the River Report brings up challenges the region is facing due to land application of biosolids. 
State of the River Report Raises Red Flags

News from Abroad

New $13.7 Million Biosolids Center at RMIT Announced
Melbourne, Australia (10/2/19) - The Australian Research Council’s Training Centre for the Transformation of Australia’s Biosolids Resource, headquartered at RMIT University will research methods to better manage and use organic matter from wastewater. The center will also develop a group of highly-trained industry-ready researchers that will develop more sustainable, improved technologies, and enhanced use of biosolids products. 
Biosolids Soon to Become a Valuable Resource
Leading the Way in Biosolids Research and Innovation


Biosolids Research Updates: Dr. Brown's Blurbs

How Does Your Urban Garden Grow?

It is really important to step back from PFAS, superbugs and shampoo by-products and remember why we all work with biosolids in the first place.  Biosolids make plants grow like nobody’s business.  This month’s library is devoted to growing plants with biosolids, not the typical wheat and corn, but plants that you find in the city.  And what better time for this than August, “Hot town, summer in the city” (remember The Loving Spoonfuls?).

Even in Seattle, the temperatures are soaring into the low 80s.  Go to the garden and sit under the shade of a tree on the green grass.  Take in the flowers.  Eat some tomatoes, fresh from the vine.  All of a sudden that heat isn’t so oppressive.  Summer becomes less a time of sticky sweat and more a time of warm, soft air and sunshine.  Access to greenspace is a critical component of getting through summer and every other season for city dwellers.  Recent studies (article #1) are recognizing the link between exposure to those green areas and public health.  Access to parks and other types of green space is considered an environmental justice issue.  And it is a double-edged sword. You make the space greener, and real estate values go up, forcing out the people who need the greenspace the most.  Some cities have turned to greening non-traditional areas as a way around this paradox.  This includes alleys, abandoned lots, and brownfields.  Soils in regular urban areas often need help; in these ‘special’ areas, likely more so.  As we all know, biosolids and composts can provide that help.  The rest of the papers in the library go into detail on different plant responses to these amendments.  These papers are not in the highest impact factor journals and do not make headlines in the news or get regulators all excited.  What they do is provide a simple, straightforward way that you can use your materials to make where you live a nicer place for you and all of your neighbors.  Take that to your municipal officials, along with a pot of pansies. 

The 2nd article in the library presents data from a study where trees were grown in three types of soil: a sand, a silt loam and a compacted clay.   Amendments added to the soil included biosolids, biochar, compost, compost tea (did not specify caffeinated or herbal), wood mulch and NK fertilizer.  Apparently, it was the biosolids that had the caffeine. Trees grew bigger in this treatment than any of the others with those in the biochar coming in second.  If you want trees in the city to grow tall and give you shade, grow them with biosolids. 

If you are thinking about a picnic on the lawn, look at the third article.  Here scientists grew turf grass on biosolids and biosolids blends with fertilizer as the control.  The turfgrass had higher yield and quality with the biosolids amendments.  The soil liked it, too, with higher organic matter, lower bulk density and higher nutrient concentrations.  Your average homeowner and potentially parks employee may not calibrate the application rate like a farmer using Class B material is supposed to.  You should apply based on nitrogen not phosphorus if you want the luscious lawn. 

Want to look at flowers while you picnic?  Maybe add some peppers to your salad?  Turn to article #4.  This one is from Craig Cogger and group at WSU.  They tested different biosolids based compost and potting soil mixtures as a substitute for traditional horticultural potting mixes.  This was done by the book, meaning composts properly made, and the study was done as it would be professionally for growing the plants.  Again, some of the biosolids mixtures tested were equal to or surpassed the industry standard. 

Finally, we turn to article #5. Here is your chance to try your turn at starting your own CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) or urban farm.  Researchers out of Virginia Tech mimicked an urban soil by compacting subsoil.  Then they amended it with biosolids-based products or fertilizer and grew a range of vegetables.  As someone whose onion and carrot crops are surrendering from the onslaught of moles and voles, I can assure you that this is not easy work.   Anyway, they found that the biosolids-based products, at loading rates as high as would be used in a backyard plot, worked well for growing the greens and improved the soil in the process. 

So, if your biosolids/compost is looking for a home, look no further than your back yard or back alley.  Cities are better for everyone if they have trees, flowers and grass.  The people living in them will be happier and healthier, and likely a little bit cooler.  Throw in some vegetables and they’ll be eating better, too.  You make the tools to make this happen.  Talk to those environmental justice folks and the parks department and show them your stuff! 

Sally Brown, University of Washington


Symposiums & Presentations

2019 Summer Symposium

2018 Annual Meeting & Symposium

2018 Summer Symposium

2017 Annual Meeting & Symposium

2017 Summer Symposium

2017 NJWEA Workshop

2016 Annual Meeting & Symposium

2016 Summer Symposium

2016 NJWEA Workshop