Recycling biosolids offers many benefits
By introducing a biosolids (treated sewage sludge) bill, Assemblyman John Ceretto is trying to capitalize on local citizen upset associated with quasar energy projects in Wheatfield and West Seneca. But his legislation is not backed by decades of science and experience. This is an important kind of recycling that advances sustainable communities throughout New York.
Biosolids have been recycled in New York for decades. The United States recycles 60 percent of the sewage sludge produced nationwide – including from San Francisco, Seattle, Denver, Milwaukee, Chicago, Boston and thousands of smaller communities. Science-based regulations make it safe. Research demonstrates benefits: cycling nutrients and organic matter, building healthier soils, sequestering carbon and reducing the costs and impacts of producing and transporting synthesized fertilizers.
On Northeast farms, biosolids are mostly used as fertilizer for corn and hay fed to animals. It’s a local resource used locally, supporting local economies. And, often, as biosolids are treated, renewable energy is generated.
The preponderance of scientists (including two reviews by the National Academy of Sciences), most countries and all U.S. state environmental agencies – as well as the Department of Agriculture, Environmental Protection Agency and Food and Drug Administration – accept biosolids use on soils, when done in accordance with regulations. For more about the scientific basis for biosolids recycling, see www.nebiosolids.org.
We welcome the dialogue on biosolids in Western New York. It helps more people learn about this important, but often hidden, recycling program.
Executive Director, North East
Biosolids and Residuals Association