Clean Water Current

EPA Hosts Second Biosolids Working Group Meeting

Mar 27, 2024

On March 19-20, several NACWA members participated in a two-day facilitated discussion with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on biosolids management challenges due to growing concerns with PFAS. This discussion was the second of a series of three meetings organized by EPA and Ross Strategic. The meetings include representative members from NACWA, the Water Environment Federation (WEF), state regulatory agencies from the Environmental Council of the States (ECOS), and solid waste members from the Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) along with EPA staff.

The meeting was designed specifically to seek individual commentary from participants on how they are working to reduce PFAS from industrial sources and improve source control strategies, how they are managing PFAS leachate from landfills, and how landfill capacity is impacting residuals management. Points of conversation included monitoring, laboratory capacity, and associated costs.

The two-day meeting also included breakout sessions where stakeholder participants could discuss communication gaps and where help is needed regarding the complexities of risk, relative risk, and what is known and not known on the PFAS front – and how to communicate these to the public, the media, and to political officials.

One of the most telling takeaways from the meeting was the real distress that state regulatory agencies and utilities would face if a single biosolids management pathway were to be eliminated. This is a particularly acute concern in New England at the moment, but one that stretches nationwide. Eliminating land application and transporting biosolids – sometimes great distances – for landfill disposal is simply not a long-term solution. Along with addressing these practical management challenges, discussion participants made clear that EPA must find a way to hold the companies that are responsible for creating this PFAS problem accountable.

The final meeting of the Working Group will be in person in Washington, DC in late May. NACWA members and Association staff will participate and provide the entire membership with an update.

If members have questions, please contact Emily Remmel, NACWA’s Senior Director of Regulatory Affairs at 202-533-1839.

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