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Board Plans to Control Use of Sewage Sludge

June 04, 2003|From Times Staff Reports

Concerned about Riverside County becoming a regional dumping ground, the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday moved toward regulating the use of highly treated sewage sludge.

If approved, an ordinance would control only the spreading of sludge on farm fields and scarred mining lands. Use of the material on golf courses, in landscaping and in backyard gardens would not be regulated.

Sludge processors and some farmers say the material, which is the solid matter that remains after sewage is treated by extracting liquids, is valuable fertilizer. But faced with persistent concerns about health risks, as well as odor and dust from the human waste, counties across the nation have increasingly banned its use unless it is further treated.

In a unanimous vote, the supervisors ordered county health officials to draft an ordinance allowing them to regulate Class A sludge, which must have all but trace amounts of certain disease-carrying bacteria removed. The board already banned use of less thoroughly treated sludge.

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