With biosolids bills failing in Florida Legislature, DEP to develop own rules
With bills to regulate biosolids failing this year in the Florida Legislature, the state Department of Environmental Protection plans to come up with a set of rules to keep the sewage sludge dumped on farmland from polluting the state's water.
Several people concerned with pollution caused by biosolids told TCPalm they hope DEP will develop regulations with teeth.
"I'm guardedly optimistic," said Bob Solari, chairman of the Indian River County Commission, which has twice enacted moratoriums on biosolids use in the wake of pollution at Blue Cypress Lake tied to sludge spread on nearby pastures.
Commissioners said they would have banned Class B biosolids outright but lacked the authority. Instead they looked to the state Legislature for help.
"It will take some work to make sure DEP gets things right," Solari said. "We'll be following them very closely."
Of the 340,000 dry tons of sewage sludge Florida produces each year, about:
100,000 tons goes to landfills
100,000 tons is partially treated and spread on land as Class B biosolids
140,000 tons is combined with composted landscape material and chemically treated to produce 200,000 dry tons of Class AA biosolids, which is classified as "fertilizer" and can be used without regulation
Both Class B and Class AA contain about 5.5% nitrogen and 2.2% phosphorus. Combined, the two produce about 4 million pounds of nitrogen and about 1.5 million pounds of phosphorus, nutrients that feed toxic algae blooms.
The ill-fated bills — a Senate version by state Sen. Debbie Mayfield, a Melbourne Republican, and a House version by state Rep. Erin Grall, a Vero Beach Republican — called for statewide regulations on the use of Class B biosolids along the lines of