MABA Summer Technical Symposium and David A. Long Memorial Educational Service Award

Diane will be attending the Mid-Atlantic Biosolids Association Conference on July 18th and 19th.

MABA Summer Technical Symposium in Linthicum Heights, MD

Tuesday, July 18 to Wednesday, July 19th, 2017

Making Connections for Effective Biosolids Management


Diane Garvey was recently awarded the David A. Long Memorial Educational Service Award by the Pennsylvania Water Environment Association!

This award was established in honor of Dr. David A. Long in recognition of his lifelong service and dedication toward the education and training of wastewater and water treatment plant operators and environmental professionals.

This award is presented to individuals who distinguish themselves through their efforts and contributions to the education of water quality professionals.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

PA’s Legislative Budget and Finance Committee Recommends Odor Management Plans

Last year, the Pennsylvania General Assembly passed House Resolution 2016-60, directing the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee to review the state’s regulations for the use of biosolids via land application. In July of 2017, this review was completed, including an evaluation of how biosolids are currently used, the associated costs, and the potential alternatives. The resolution also required review of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protections’ implementation of the biosolid land application program. The title of the report is “PA’s Program for Beneficial Use of Biosolids (Sewage Sludge) by Land Application.”

One of the notable points raised by the report is that Pennsylvania sends more of its biosolids to landfills than most other states. Whereas Pennsylvania sends approximately 46 percent of its biosolids to landfills, others send only about 20 percent to landfills. Additionally, while Pennsylvania uses about 38 percent of its biosolids for land application, other states use almost 60 percent of their own biosolids for the same purpose.

This is important because the report identifies land application of biosolids to be the least expensive method of biosolids management. A 2007 report from the Center for Rural Pennsylvania is cited identifying the average cost for large-scale land application of biosolids to be $145 per dry ton; the other two leading methods for biosolid disposal, landfills and incineration, cost an average of $260 and $290 per dry ton respectively.

The Legislative Budget and Finance Committee report goes on to describe the other benefits of biosolid land applications – namely, their role in reducing fertilizer costs for farmers. The report states that the nitrogen, phosphorous, and other various micronutrients contained in most biosolids are beneficial to plant growth, while also reducing surface runoff and erosion and improving the capacity of the treated soil to hold water and nutrients. Some biosolids have also been used to assist in the reclamation of surface mines in Dauphin, Centre, Clearfield, and Schuylkill Counties.

Continuing, the report addresses the protections for biosolid recycling under the Right to Farm Act, citing a December 2015 Supreme Court decision to regard the use of biosolid fertilizer as “normal agricultural practice”. The report also mentions the public’s primary concern about biosolid land application in this manner to be the offensive odors they produce.

The report continues with information on how technologies are still developing to use and process biosolids more effectively, including the potential for biosolids to be used to produce methane fuel. Another noted technology cited in the report is the OmniProcessor, demonstrated at a Seattle test facility, which could use some biosolids to produce “…drinkable water, electricity, and a pathogen-free ash”. Another alternative is the use of dried biosolids in coal fired power plants and cement plants. The report also mentions advances in digestion and thermal hydrolysis.

Finally, the report makes its recommendation regarding its findings, stating that the “DEP should modify its General Operating Permit requirements to require biosolids generators to develop odor management plans”. This strategy is designed to address the odor problem of land-applications for biosolids, which the report cites as “…the biggest threat to the beneficial use of biosolids”. It finishes by saying that, should DEP inspectors be made aware of a valid odor complaints, then they should “…take appropriate enforcement actions if the odor management plan is not being properly implemented”.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

New Fact Sheet on Dried Biosolids Distribution and Marketing

The Water Environment Federation, Residuals and Biosolids Committee, Bioenergy Technology Subcommittee, Thermal Drying Taskforce created a new fact sheet, based on a survey, regarding dried product marketing. Some observations follow;

Most of the dryers are in the eastern US and the highest density is in the mid Atlantic region.

Most dried biosolids are sold in bulk for agricultural use.  Only one respondent mentioned the product is sold as a specialty fertilizer.  PA Department of Agriculture definition; A specialty fertilizer is a fertilizer distributed for non-farm use and fertilizer material primarily intended to supply plant nutrients other than nitrogen, phosphate, and soluble potash. A commercial fertilizer distributed primarily for non-farm use, such as, but not limited to, use on home gardens, lawns, shrubbery, flowers, golf courses, municipal parks, cemeteries, greenhouses, and nurseries.

According to the PA Department of Agriculture regulations, you would not be allowed to register dried biosolids as a fertilizer because it is below the minimum concentrations of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium.  It is surprising that only one product is a Specialty Fertilizer.  Maybe only one respondent thought to mention this.

Most respondents claimed to sell the product for between $1 and $20 per ton, 30% claimed more than $20 per ton and 15% paid for disposal.  Most generators have a backup plan for disposal when they can’t sell it all.

In addition to the lab analysis required for regulatory compliance, respondents monitored; additional pathogens and nutrients, odor, organic compounds and product temperature.  23% had to suspend distribution one or more times due to product quality.

In order to get new customers, generators rely mostly on staff to identify users, word of mouth and their website.

Most marketing programs required 2 years to become established but 33% required longer.

Most utilities rely on customers to handle transportation of the product and 23% provide delivery.

The complete 7 page fact sheet may be found on the WEF website.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Another Look at Triclosan

In July, 2016, our article entitled, “Triclosan?  Just Wash Your Hands!” appeared in Keystone Water Quality Manager Magazine.  At that time, we reported that indicators and research pointed to a minimal risk to humans of the trace amounts of triclosan found in land-applied biosolids.  We also noted that, since such anti-microbial compounds provided no additional benefit to the consumer over washing with plain soap and water, these active ingredients could be removed from products such as antibacterial wash products without putting the safety of the general public at risk.

A couple months later, the FDA reached a similar conclusion when they released their findings that companies could not prove that the inclusion of such ingredients in consumer wash products provided better protection against spreading certain infections and preventing illness than diligent hand washing alone.  In September, 2016, the FDA issued a final ruling that over-the-counter (OTC), anti-bacterial wash products that contain one or more of 19 specific active ingredients, including triclosan, will no longer be able to be marketed.  This only applies to those products that are intended to be used with water and rinsed off.  It does not affect consumer hand “sanitizers” or wipes, or antibacterial products used in hospital and food service settings.  Manufacturers will have one year to comply by either reformulating or removing the products from the market.

This ruling by the FDA is a follow-up to their proposed rule in 2013 when data showed that long-term exposure to these active ingredients could pose minimal health risks, including bacterial resistance and hormonal effects.  The new ruling concludes that, since there is no benefit to including the ingredients – and, in fact, there is a slight negative health risk – there is no need to use them at all.  The Centers for Disease Control recommends that, if soap and water are not available, consumers should use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer instead.  Other ingredients that have shown anti-bacterial properties in alternative products include hydrogen peroxide, thyme oil, and citric acid.

The FDA has deferred ruling on three other ingredients used in consumer antiseptic wash products until more safety and effectiveness data is submitted.  The three ingredients are: benzalkonium chloride, benzethonium chloride and chloroxyleno (PCMX).

All of this is good news for the biosolids sector.  Eliminating potentially harmful ingredients in the manufacturing of consumer products will subsequently reduce their presence in biosolids and thus reduce the risk and public anxiety over the presence of these microconstituent contaminants in the future.

The 19 banned ingredients are:

  • Cloflucarban
  • Fluorosalan
  • Hexachlorophene
  • Hexylresorcinol
  • Iodophors, which are iodine-containing ingredients
  • Iodine complex, which is ammonium ether sulfate and polyoxyethylene sorbitan monolaurate
  • Iodine complex of phosphate ester of alkylaryloxy polyethylene glycol
  • Nonylphenoxypoly, or ethyleneoxy, ethanoliodine
  • Poloxamer, an iodine complex of Povidone-iodine 5 percent to 10 percent
  • Undecoylium chloride iodine complex
  • Methylbenzethonium chloride
  • Phenol greater than 1.5 percent
  • Phenol less than 1.5 percent
  • Secondary amyltricresols
  • Sodium oxychlorosene
  • Tribromsalan
  • Triclocarban
  • Triclosan
  • Triple dye
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Draft Supplement to Nutrient Management Technical Manual

The State Conservation Commission (SCC) is in the process of writing draft guidance for the next edition of the Nutrient Management Technical Manual dealing with Act 38 participants who utilize Food Processing Residuals (FPRs) and/or Biosolids (Exceptional Quality or Class B) as a nutrient source or soil amendment for agronomic purposes.   On October 24, 2016 the SCC distributed a draft supplement for comment to Nutrient Management Planners.

If you would like Garvey Resources to draft comments on behalf of your organization, please call or email.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Biosolids Presentation Updates

Diane will be presenting at three upcoming events in September.  Two of the presentations at EPWPCOA will deal with permitting for land application of biosolids and the WEFTEC presentation will cover a paper addressing biosolids hydrolysis and high solids liquid fertilizer .

EPWPCOA Meeting and Trade Show in Leesport, PA

Friday, September 16, 2016

The title of the presentation is: “The Phosphorus Index and the Impact on Land Application of Exceptional Quality and Class B Biosolids.”

The conditions of the General Permits for Land Application will be revised and reissued in April 2017 to include an evaluation of each field for the Phosphorus Index.   This presentation will evaluate the impacts of this change and provide recommendations to prepare for these new regulatory requirements.

WEFTEC 2016 – Technical Exhibition and Conference in New Orleans

Technical Session #410, “Sludge Hydrolysis,” Tuesday, September 27, 2016 at 2 PM

This will be a presentation of a paper written by Diane Garvey et. al. entitled, “Hydrolysis Process and High Solids Liquid Fertilizer Reduce Land Application Costs & Complies with Nutrient Management Regulations”

The Issue: With the growing interest in Resource Recovery, many biosolids producers are keen to continue to recover the nutrients and organics in their biosolids through land application to agricultural lands. The traditional land application of dewatered biosolids, however, often raises concerns from regulators and the public about odors, dust and nutrient run-off. In addition, newly implemented or soon to be implemented Nutrient Management Regulations in each state will limit how much and where biosolids may be used in agriculture.
The Solution: Over the last 8 years a number of biosolids producers in Canada have made use of a biosolids hydrolysis process to overcome stakeholder concerns. This process produces a high solids EQ biosolids liquid that can be land applied in a way that offers a number of benefits to the ratepayer, the public, environmental regulators, and the farmer.


EPWPCOA Event “Beneficial Use of Biosolids in Mine Reclamation” in St. Clair, PA

Session entitled “General Permitting for Beneficial Use” on Friday, September 30, 2016 at 10:45 AM

This presentation will cover the process of General Permitting for the Beneficial Use of Biosolids, including the requirements for biosolids quality, preparation of sampling plans for biosolids permitting, and the preparation of Biosolids Quality Enhancement Plans for use in the Land Application and Beneficial Use of Biosolids.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Triclosan in Biosolids – No Cause for Concern

In recent years, there has been much concern and scrutiny regarding the microconstituents found in biosolids and whether or not they present a human health risk.  Several research projects have focused on one type of microconstituent – antimicrobial compounds.  In particular, many studies have looked at the antimicrobial Triclosan (TCS), a common ingredient in many household and personal care products. TCS is routinely detected in treated biosolids and wastewater effluents.  But what exactly does this mean to human health?  Is it harmful in the amounts found?  Does it get into the food grown on biosolids-amended farm fields?  If so, is that a problem?  Researchers have looked at these issues and concluded that there is a negligible risk to human health in any of these circumstances.

Let’s clear one thing up first: antimicrobials are not the same as antibiotics.  While “all antibiotics are antimicrobials…not all antimicrobials are antibiotics.”[i]  Antibiotics are molecular substances produced by a microorganism.  Antimicrobials, on the other hand, may be natural or synthetic.  They also tend to have a narrow window of effectiveness for specific microorganisms and are thus less likely to cause bacterial resistance with repeated use.

Now, back to the antimicrobial, Triclosan, whose primary use is in antibacterial soaps and washes.  Research focused on TCS has been reported on by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Water Environment Research Foundation (WERF) as well as in several industry journals.[ii]  All reports conclude that there is a minimal risk to humans from TCS in land-applied biosolids or in its presence in crops grown in fields amended with biosolids.  The FDA had first reviewed TCS in 2010 and again in 2013, concentrating only on antibacterial soaps and body washes that are used with water, not hand sanitizers, wipes, or antibacterial soaps used in health care settings.  In both studies, they concluded that the presence of TCS in biosolids was not hazardous to humans, but did warrant further study because it was so prevalent in household products.

A fascinating result of the FDA’s research was the finding that the benefits of using antibacterial soap products are unproven and that “…no evidence that OTC (over the counter) antibacterial soap products are any more effective at preventing illness than washing with plain soap and water.”[iii]  This raises the question of the need for antibacterial soaps and washes for the general public and whether TCS and other antimicrobials are necessary in consumer products at all.  Might it not be more efficacious to launch a public education campaign to discourage the use of antibacterial products while promoting more thorough hand-washing?  A novel thought, indeed!  In this way, less TCS and other microconstituents would find their way into biosolids while the health and well-being of the human race would not be compromised by avoiding antibacterial products.  Sounds like a win-win!

That being said, because of this particular antimicrobial’s ubiquitous nature in products worldwide and its inefficient removal during wastewater treatment, some researchers have recommended that TCS be placed on the priority list of emerging microconstituent contaminants and its use in products regulated.[iv]

In other words…keep an eye on it.

________________________________________________________________________________________________  [i] “Antimicrobials: An Introduction” Antimicrobial Resistance Learning Site for Veterinary Students. Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI. 2011.
[ii] Versylcke, T; Mayfield, D. B; Tabony, J. A; Capdevielle, M; Slezak, B. “Human health risk assessment of triclosan in land-applied biosolids.” Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry. 14 January 2016.
[iii] Versylcke, T; Mayfield, D. B; Tabony, J. A; Capdevielle, M; Slezak, B. “Human health risk assessment of triclosan in land-applied biosolids.” Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry. 14 January 2016.
[iv] Versylcke, T; Mayfield, D. B; Tabony, J. A; Capdevielle, M; Slezak, B. “Human health risk assessment of triclosan in land-applied biosolids.” Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry. 14 January 2016.


Posted in biosolids, biosolids as fertilizer, disposal of biosolids, Uncategorized, wastewater treatment plants | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment