The Washington Department of Ecology (DOE) last week announced a newly updated biosolids general permit in an effort to create a more streamlined approach to approving biosolids operations in Washington state.
Biosolids, which the announcement described as “the rich organic matter left over after domestic sewage is treated at a wastewater management facility,” will face new environmental protections at all facilities and increase the ability of biosolids operations to communicate with the DOE.
“Maintaining a strong and efficient regulatory process is important as we continue developing systems to coordinate and improve management of all organic waste in Washington,” said Laurie Davies, manager of Ecology’s Solid Waste Management Program. “Biosolids are a valuable resource that save all of us millions of dollars every year when they are diverted from expensive landfills to beneficial uses, like low-cost fertilizer and compost.”
According to the announcement from DOE, biosolids can replace petrochemical fertilizers while returning “essential nutrients” to the land and, when given proper oversight, can ensure benefits to “farmers and soil without leaching nutrients into surface or groundwater.”
Because of the new general permit, DOE will now be able to place stricter requirements on certain locations based on local environmental conditions.
DOE released a draft permit of the plan in 2021 and used public feedback to prepare the final permit language. According to the statement, the public will have 30 days to appeal the permit to Washington state’s Pollution Control Hearings Board before it goes into effect.
For more information, visit DOE’s website at https://ecology.wa.gov/.