|Posted:||May 16, 2019 09:21 AM|
|From:||Senator Mario M. Scavello|
|To:||All Senate members|
|Subject:||Land Application of Sewage Sludge|
|In the near future I intend to introduce legislation amending Title 27 (Environmental Resources), providing for further environmental protections over the land application of biosolids, otherwise known as “sewage sludge.”
While this is a common practice and means of disposal across the Commonwealth, application of treated human waste to farmlands has caused significant environmental, health and community concerns throughout Northeast Pennsylvania. Due to the region’s close proximity to New York and New Jersey – and its accessible location from major metropolitan areas, including Philadelphia – the Poconos and Lehigh Valley have become a dumping ground for a high volume of sewage sludge.
Despite significant steps taken to preserve our exceptional value waterways and sensitive environmental features, the Commonwealth’s standards over the land application of sludge are considerably weaker than many other surrounding states. For example, throughout Pennsylvania, sludge is commonly land-applied on farmland with steep topography. This heightens concerns that even a moderate rainfall will simply wash contaminated waste material downhill and jeopardize nearby residential neighborhoods, drinking wells and exceptional value waterways.
Landowners who spread sewage sludge are not subject to buffer requirements from adjoining properties and are only required to uphold minimal buffers from nearby buildings or waterways.
In response to these concerns, my legislation will create stronger buffer standards and protections that mirror existing best practices of other states. This legislation will establish safer distances from drinking wells, surface water and groundwater; property line boundaries; sinkholes; and occupied and unoccupied dwellings. In addition, the proposed legislation decreases the maximum allowable slope where sludge can be land-applied.
As we continue to evaluate the safety and health of treated sludge material, this legislation is a necessary first step towards ensuring our environment and communities are protected.
Please join me in sponsoring this legislation.