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The Wastewater Program regulates the beneficial reuse of biosolids in Massachusetts through land application. It also regulates construction and modification of residuals treatment facilities, residuals landfills, and residuals incinerators.
What does the Residuals Management Program do?
The Program regulates the beneficial reuse of biosolids in Massachusetts through land application. It also regulates construction and modification of residuals treatment facilities, residuals landfills, and residuals incinerators.
What is the difference between sludge, residuals, and biosolids?
Sludge is the solid material in sanitary wastewater, either from wastewater treatment plants or on-site septic tanks. Biosolids is sludge that has been treated to ensure that it can be safely applied to land as a fertilizer or soil amendment (these are called beneficial reuses). Residuals is a general term for both sludge and biosolids. MassDEP's program that oversees wastewater treatment sludge and biosolids is called the Residuals Management Program.
How is wastewater sludge generated in Massachusetts handled?
The approximate breakdown is as follows:
How are biosolids created?
First, water is removed from the sludge (called "dewatering") with centrifuges, vacuums, drying beds or presses. Then the material is stabilized using one or more treatment methods in order to reduce pathogens and odors and make the biosolids safe for beneficial uses such as fertilizer or soil amendments.
Is all sludge regulated by the Land Application Regulations?
No. Only wastewater treatment residuals that are intended for use as biosolids are subject to MassDEP's Land Application regulations. The incineration or landfilling of wastewater treatment sludge is governed by MassDEP policy and guidance documents.
Does the EPA regulate biosolids?
Yes. EPA also regulates the beneficial reuse of biosolids through land application. EPA's "Regulations for the Use and Disposal of Sludge" (40 CFR Part 503) set pathogen removal and metals standards for biosolids. In some areas, MassDEP's standards are stricter than EPA's, and state regulations and permits also address areas not covered by EPA.
How do we know that biosolids are safe to use?
MassDEP regulations for the Land Application of Sludge and Septage (310 CMR 32.00 ) ensure that biosolids are safe to use.
Wastewater treatment plants that treat sludge for beneficial use as a biosolids must meet the following conditions:
In addition, biosolids must meet strict quality standards for their proposed use:
Sludge from industrial wastewater treatment processes is regulated by MassDEP's Bureau of Waste Prevention.
The following facilities produce biosolids, which may be available to users directly or through retail outlets. For more information, contact the facility directly.
Policy on the utilization of blended sludge compost (compost mixed with sand, peat, or other materials).
Preventing drinking-water contamination from stored sludge and septage.
Clarifying the allowable use of wastewater-treatment sludge in horticultural operations.
Hydrogeological evaluations for proposed landfill sites define the geology of the site, groundwater flow paths and rates, design characteristics of the landfill liner, and the location of all proposed groundwater protection and monitoring systems.
Requirements for large publicly-owned treatment works seeking to contract out sludge reuse or disposal.
Allowing a single application for land application of sludge or septage to cover multiple sites under the same ownership.
Plan approval application submittal requirements.
Parameters of a sampling and analysis plan for wastewater treatment sludge and septage.
Technical information required for plans and specifications for sludge compost facilities.
Requirements for back-up facilities for wastewater treatment plants that may not be able to dispose of sludge throughout their design life (20 years).
Procedures and certifications required for closing a residuals landfill.
Parameters for the environmentally safe design and operation of sludge landfills.
Due to the potential for molybdenum toxicity in ruminant animals, biosolids containing this element must carry a warning label. November 2016.