Did you know that the average resident of the U.S. accounts for 37 pounds of biosolids that is beneficially used or disposed of each year? It’s an interesting statistic, something you can find in the recently completed National Biosolids Summary Project.
The same team completing the most recent survey in 2004 completed this latest assessment for the year 2018. That year was selected because it is representative of the late 2010s, after the SSI (incinerator regulations) were approved and before other regulatory changes occurred in some states. It provides a good comparative look at the changes in biosolids management from 2004 and 2018.
According to the study, more than half (53%) of wastewater solids are treated and recycled to soils as biosolids fertilizers and soil amendments. The other 47% of wastewater solids are placed in landfills or incinerated.
Some interesting facts:
- The percent of beneficial use of biosolids increased from 49% in 2004 (not including stored biosolids) to 53% in 2018.
- ~5% more 2018 biosolids were Exceptional Quality (Class A) biosolids.
- The percent of biosolids used for land reclamation decreased ~1%, while agricultural use increased ~1%.
- Corn for animal feed and energy, followed by hay/grass/forage, are the most popular crops grown using biosolids as an amendment. EQ (Class A) biosolids products are widely used on turfgrass (lawns, erosion control, golf courses, landscaping).
And finally, the utilities responsible for biosolids management are most concerned about rising costs and future outlets for management options.
The National Biosolids Data Team project can be found here.
The largest percent of biosolids in Virginia was used on agriculture fields (53.49%). Virginia-specific biosolids data can be found here.