Monday, June 07, 2010

Ohio proposal would ban farmers from using sewage sludge on winter fields

Ohio officials have proposed a ban to prevent farmers from spreading sludge on fields during the winter. The process is believed to pollute nearby streams, but the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency ban would restrict the practice only between Dec. 15 and March 1, Spencer Hunt of The Columbus Dispatch reports. A stricter proposal, which would have expanded the ban by 45 days, was abandoned three years ago.

"The state says the proposal is intended to prevent incidents in which sludge that was spread on frozen farm fields runs off and poisons streams during sudden thaws or unseasonable rainstorms," Hunt writes. Sewage treatment plants were among those that objected to the original proposal three years ago, and David Brewer, a sludge manager for Montgomery County's sewer systems. Brewer told Hunt the new proposal would still "raise costs for public sewer systems that would have to either store sludge during the winter or pay to dump it in landfills," Hunt writes.

"(The EPA) drew a big line in the sand ... They said, 'We're just not going to compromise anymore on winter (sludge) application,'" according to Brewer. About 140,000 tons of sludge is spread on as many as 8,800 fields across Ohio each year, Hunt reports. The ban applies only to sludge sprayed on the surface as sludge injected into the soil is less likely to runoff into streams. Still, injection is not likely to work in the winter as the ground is usually frozen. (Read more)

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