NACWA Discusses Land Application with Inspector General, Biosolids Committee Briefed on PFAS

three(September 26, 2017) - NACWA spoke with EPA’s Office of Inspector General (IG) on September 22 to discuss the IG’s ongoing evaluation of the Agency’s controls on the land application of biosolids. NACWA first learned of the review in June when the IG sent Mike Shapiro, Acting Assistant Administrator for Water, a letter indicating that it would begin preliminary research on the biosolids land application program. The objective of the review is stated in the letter as, “Does the EPA have and implement controls over the land application of sewage sludge that protect human health and the environment?”

The IG is still in its preliminary research stage, and continues to interview stakeholders to collect additional input. Based on the information it gathers, the IG will determine whether it should issue a report with recommended actions for EPA, continue with more research or conclude that no further action is necessary. If a report is developed, it would likely be released in late spring or early summer, 2018.

NACWA’s Biosolids Management Committee also met September 21, and was briefed on an emerging issue out of the Northeast involving the presence of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) at extremely low levels in biosolids. The group of man-made compounds was used for years for its nonstick and stain-repelling properties, and while certain PFAS chemicals are no longer manufactured in the US, they can still be found in wastewater and the environment.

A copy of the presentation on PFAS is available to NACWA members by contacting Chris Hornback. The Committee was also briefed on the new biosolids staff at EPA Headquarters as well as the IG’s evaluation.