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Water-Related News

Ban biosolids use along upper St. Johns River, Indian River County administrator tells DEP

Indian River County Administrator Jason Brown called Thursday for banning sewage sludge application on land in the upper St. Johns River watershed, which includes Indian River County.

Speaking at a Florida Department of Environmental Protection workshop in West Palm Beach on proposed rule changes for the use of sewage sludge, known as biosolids, Brown noted the practice already is banned in South Florida watersheds, including the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee rivers.

"We should be part of that club," he said.

Florida's wastewater treatment plants produce about 350,000 dry tons of sewage sludge each year. Of that, about:

  • 25% goes to landfills
  • 30% is partially treated and spread on land as Class B biosolids
  • 45% 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 classes of biosolids produce about 4 million pounds of nitrogen and about 1.5 million pounds of phosphorus, nutrients that feed toxic algae blooms.