1/29 Editorial: It's time for King William to locally monitor biosolids applications

12:17 PM EST, January 30, 2014


When Synagro Technologies, Inc. applied more than 3,000 tons of a free but controversial fertilizer made from treated human waste to 250 acres of forestland on Wakema Road in King William County late last year, neighboring residents started voicing concerns. The smell, they said, made them ill. Since then, their concerns have drawn attention to biosolids land applications in the county.

Monday night citizens urged the King William Board of Supervisors to take more action locally to monitor such sites. This can be done through a local monitoring program by the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ),

While individual localities do not regulate biosolids projects (DEQ handles the permitting and inspections), a local biosolids monitor can provide the county with an additional level of assurance that applications are meeting state and federal regulations, thus providing residents with the peace of mind and well being they deserve.

According to the Virginia Biosolids Council, the General Assembly amended the Code of Virginia in 2003 to give local governments more oversight over biosolids applications within their jurisdictions. The local monitoring supplements the on-site inspection program already in place by DEQ. Monitors may order the abatement of any violation of state regulations but they can't enforce more restrictive conditions on the land application of biosolids than what already exists at a state level.

What can monitors do?

• Review permit information related to health and environmental protection issues

• Site monitoring, sample collection and delivery and examination of records

• Site inspections (prior to land application, during and following biosolids application)

• Ordering the abatement of any violation of state regulations (in consultation with DEQ)

• Verifying sign notices, buffer distances, and site management

• Assessing post application runoff

• Managing records, including data entry, communications, developing reports

• Responding to issues complaints, including contact with the public and state officials

• Collecting samples and testing

• Training

And there's no cost to the localities. DEQ reimburses local governments for the cost of hiring a local monitor. It's a win-win for all sides involved.