Biosolids Management in York County
What are biosolids?
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) defines biosolids as nutrient-rich organic material produced from the stabilization of sewage sludge and residential septage that meet specific quality criteria and are suitable for land application. Biosolids can be used on permitted farm fields as a soil amendment (in place of manure or chemical fertilizer). PADEP regulates land application of biosolids and issues permits. Click here to access PADEP's web site for biosolids-specific information.
How did the Authority get involved in the management of biosolids?
In 1993, the Authority adopted a county-wide plan for the management of biosolids and septage (material removed from septic tanks that receive waste or wastewater). The plan addressed York County’s ability to provide long term capacity for this waste stream and recommended land application of biosolids as a management option. This plan called for licensing all biosolids and septage haulers, monitoring land application sites, tracking manifest data, and implementing public education efforts.
In 1998 the Authority, PADEP and the York County Conservation District adopted a Multi-Agency Biosolids Management Plan. The Multi-Agency Plan is unique not only to York County, but also to Pennsylvania in that it is the first "action-oriented" plan to expand upon the state's regulatory management of biosolids.
The Multi-Agency Plan establishes multiple systems of checks and balances at the local level. The Authority plays an active role in this aspect by monitoring site activity and responding to community concerns.
As a result of these plans, how is the Authority providing for the management of biosolids and septage?
By staying on top of York County’s biosolids activities, the Authority is able to effect a "real time" response and better assist PADEP by providing monitoring information that enhances the regulatory process.
- Addition of permanent staff to provide site monitoring, plan implementation, data collection and general oversight. The Authority acts on the local level to monitor permitted application sites and will report questionable activity to the appropriate PADEP officials. The Authority can take compliance actions against haulers who violate licensing rules and regulations (such as delivering biosolids or septage to unpermitted sites).
- Licensing of all biosolids and septage haulers. Haulers are required to provide documentation for each load of material collected, transported, delivered to a permitted facility or land applied in York County. Out-of-county haulers land applying or transporting this material to a permitted facility in York County must also be licensed and submit appropriate documentation for their hauling activities. Documentation is in the form of either manifests or monthly reports.
- Providing technical seminars for biosolids generators and appliers. The Authority has and will continue to conduct informational workshops to assist generators and land appliers in following PADEP regulations and in calculating appropriate loading rates. Ongoing technical assistance will continue to be provided.
- Establishment of a biosolids/septage database. This database contains information taken from submitted numerical manifests or monthly reports (location of generator, volume of material collected, date of collection, where and when it was land applied or delivered to a permitted facility, etc.). When biosolids are land applied, the generator must also submit information that enables the Authority to monitor compliance with appropriate loading rates.
- Public Education Efforts. Educational presentations on the topic are available to school and civic groups at no cost.
- Monitoring. The Authority’s Compliance Specialist audits land application sites to check compliance with state regulations. Residents with concerns or questions about biosolids can call Pat Pizza at 717-845-1066.
- Site Outreach. The Authority has contacted every municipality where a biosolids land application permit exists to provide information, meet one-on-one with municipal officials, and arrange for land application demonstrations when requested.
The Multi-Agency Plan also eliminates redundancy between the organizations as each agency has a specific role to play. As the state’s regulatory body responsible for management of land application of biosolids, PADEP approves and issues permits for land application and sets and enforces regulations.
Locally, the York County Conservation District reviews and confirms farm conservation plans and erosion & sedimentation plans. Biosolids cannot be land applied to a field until a current conservation plan is implemented. This ensures agricultural use of the farm site is appropriate and will be done in accordance with farming practices that minimize surface water runoff and provide appropriate nutrients for crop growth.
The Authority licenses haulers, tracks information on a database, conducts site inspections, responds to community concerns and conducts public outreach programming. This ensures biosolids haulers are adhering to York County’s standards and regulations for transporting biosolids and enables the Authority to take enforcement action.
Our database enables us to track application information pertinent to monitoring agronomic loading rates. The goal is to ensure the appropriate volumes of biosolids are applied so as to preserve the site’s long-term productivity for future generations.
Conducting site inspections and responding promptly to community concerns sends a strong message to biosolids generators and land appliers that their operations are being monitored and they will be held accountable if they do not follow regulations.
By actively involving all three agencies in the process of land application, the Multi-Agency Plan provides for a system of checks and balances. Most importantly, it enables the Authority and the Conservation District to actively and promptly ensure that land application of biosolids in York County is being done in accordance with the regulations and it enables us to take a lead role in addressing and responding to community concerns—on a local level and from a local perspective.
The Multi-Agency Biosolids Management Plan is working in York County. The Authority is committed to taking the action necessary to ensure agricultural use of biosolids is conducted in our county in accordance with the regulations.
If you have questions about the land application of biosolids in York County, call us at 717-845-1066 or e-mail us at: email@example.com.