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Policy Statement 429 - Municipal Wastewater Biosolids

 

Approved by the Energy, Environment and Water Policy Committee on April 16, 2020
Approved by the Public Policy Committee on May 18, 2020
Adopted by the Board of Direction on July 11, 2020

Policy

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) supports and encourages:

  • The beneficial use and generation of municipal wastewater biosolids of acceptable quality which minimizes energy consumption.
  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) continued development and implementation of risk based biosolids-quality standards for known contaminants and contaminants of emerging concern which will protect the public health and the environment.
  • Amending the EPA Part 503 rule to more fully assure that only biosolids of exceptional quality, in terms of both pathogen and chemical limits, are marketed to the general public.
  • The use of nutrient recovery programs and effective capture and use of the energy content of municipal wastewater biosolids to reduce energy consumption and provide new sources of renewable energy. 

Issue

Properly treating human waste which produces biosolids as a byproduct is necessary for public health and safety. Properly treated biosolids that meet current U.S EPA standards 40 CFR Part 503) result in biosolids that can be beneficially used in the environment and as a source of renewable energy through biogas development. There have been some public health concerns about the beneficial use of biosolids associated with contaminants of emerging concern. Those concerns must be weighed against the large amount of landfill capacity consumed by biosolid disposal and the growing desire for renewable energy that biosolids can provide while protecting the public health and environment. 

Rationale

The EPA has developed standards for biosolids that are intended to be protective of public health and the environment, support reduction of waste streams to landfills and generate alternative and renewable sources of energy. The beneficial reuse of these materials is strongly encouraged by the Society. The U.S. EPA estimates that more than 7 million dry tons of solids (45 million cubic yards) are generated annually for use or disposal by the more than 16,000 municipal wastewater treatment facilities nationwide (U.S.). There are currently 1,241 wastewater treatment facilities in the U.S. that use biogas, with more than 2,440 plants identified as viable for future biogas development projects. Continued implementation of a national policy for regulation of municipal wastewater biosolids is the key to their successful beneficial use.  

ASCE Policy Statement 429
First Approved in 1994


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