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Sludge that failed to meet federal pathogen requirements was applied to fields in Sacramento, Solano, and Merced Counties
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has ordered the city of Pacifica, Calif., to comply with federal sewage sludge requirements after the EPA discovered the city failed to meet federal pathogen requirements before sewage sludge was applied to land.
The EPA found that between January and June 2007, sewage sludge from Pacifica's wastewater treatment plant, the Calera Creek Water Recycling Plant, exceeded limits for fecal coliform. The sewage sludge was land-applied to fields in Sacramento County, Solano County and Merced County for growing grasses, such as ryegrass.
When properly treated and processed, sewage sludge (or biosolids) can be safely recycled and applied as fertilizer to improve and maintain productive soils and stimulate plant growth.
“Biosolids can be an excellent fertilizer when the specific requirements to ensure its safe use are consistently met,” said Alexis Strauss, the EPA’s Water Division director for the Pacific Southwest region. “We monitor biosolids compliance throughout the Southwest to ensure public health and the environment are protected.”
The order directs Pacifica to ensure that sewage sludge is not applied to land when federal pathogen and/or vector attraction reduction requirements are not met. The order also requires the city to report its self-monitoring results to the EPA on a monthly basis for one year.