GRN Recycle Talk FAQ

Date: Tue Mar 16 1999 - 11:03:39 EST

Date: Tue, 16 Mar 1999 11:03:39 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Re: Information wanted on large-scale sewage recycling

March 16, 1999

Sewage sludge that has been treated, typically at publicly owned treatment works aka POTWs is widely applied
to land in the US. As of 1995, about 2 million dry metric tons is used so that the nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorous) and organic matter in sludge can be beneficially reused to grow crops or other vegetation. Lna application has to be managed to protect human helath, to guard against bacteria, viruses, pathogens, metals, toxic chemicals from also being applied to land. For that reason, incineration, landfill and ocean dumping may also be the best way to get rid of some fractions of it.
In the US the Clean Water Act and Part 503 of Title 40 in the Code of Federal Regulations, address what can and can't be done with sewage sludge.

Direct, untreated sewage sludge is absolutely not acceptable. If Hong Kong or anywhere else tries that, beware. That is something recycling should never get involved with. Or, put another way, if you want an example of where recycling has a negative social consequence: this is one of them.

Good examples of acceptable reuse: Montgomery County Regional Composting Facility, run by the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission, MD
Also, the city of St. Peters, MO which, from 1986 has applied dry biosolids to farmalnd, as well as filled swampland with the stuff. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utility District, NC used it as artificial soil at their airport and final cover at landfills in the distant past. Currently, I don't know if they still do this.

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