NACWA Backs Los Angeles Lawsuit Challenging Biosolids Ban

Clean Water Advocacy - News Releases - August 15, 2006

For Immediate Release: August 15, 2006
Contact: Alexandra Dunn, NACWA General Counsel, 202/533-1083

NACWA Backs Los Angeles Lawsuit Challenging Biosolids Ban
The National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) supports the City of Los Angeles in its lawsuit challenging Kern County’s ban on the import and land application of biosolids. The Los Angeles County Sanitation District (LACSD) and the Orange County Sanitation District (OCSD), both NACWA member agencies, joined as plaintiffs in the lawsuit, which was filed in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. The lawsuit challenging the Kern County biosolids ban also includes farmers who improve their land and crops with biosolids, as well as truckers and small businesses that are damaged by the ban. The clean water agencies and their allies contend that ban violates their constitutional rights and is contrary to the federal Clean Water Act.

Biosolids are created when solids from municipal wastewater treatment plants are treated to reduce or eliminate pathogens and minimize odors. The result is a useful, recyclable agricultural product that meets strict federal and state environmental health and safety standards. Biosolids are carefully monitored and are used as fertilizer to enhance agricultural lands for crops. They are also used on gardens and in parks and to reclaim mining sites. The controlled land application of biosolids completes a natural cycle in the environment that NACWA believes is preferable to taking up valuable space in a landfill or other disposal facility.

“It is imperative that the nation’s clean water agencies be allowed to manage their biosolids in a safe, environmentally friendly manner and in compliance with EPA regulations, as they have for decades,” Ken Kirk, NACWA’s Executive Director, said. “In this case, NACWA members have spent millions to ensure their management practices met Kern County’s strict standards for biosolids quality and monitoring. While it is unfortunate that this issue has pitted communities against each other, NACWA believes it is important that our members can be assured that the investment they make to build safe, effective biosolids management programs is protected.”

The City of Los Angeles and OCSD were the first two agencies to receive certification under the National Biosolids Partnership’s World Class Biosolids Environmental Management System Program, an honor they received in 2003. For more information about biosolids and this stringent certification program, go to the website of the National Biosolids Partnership at

NACWA stands ready to assist its member agencies as the litigation in the Kern County case moves forward.
For more information on the lawsuit, please feel free to contact Marshall Lowe, Los Angeles’ Public Information Officer, at (213) 978-0330 or at

NACWA represents the interests of nearly 300 of the nation’s publicly owned wastewater treatment works, serving the majority of the sewered population in the United States, collectively treating and reclaiming over 18 billion gallons of wastewater every day.

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