Biosolids Issues Management

PWEA Biosolids Committee and Mid Atlantic Biosolids Association Continue to Work on Biosolids Issues Management 

What does "Biosolids Issues Management" mean? Wikipedia says: "In business, Issues Management refers to the discipline and process of managing business issues and usually implies using technology to electronically automate the process. In Project Management, the purpose of Issues Management is to insure that any concerns recognized during a project are addressed in a timely manner and do not go unresolved until they become major problems."

PWEA Biosolids Committee and MABA have been working on Biosolids Issues Management by setting up web sites with factual information, providing information packets to influential people and developing social networks with the media and those affected by biosolids recycling. 

Since December 2009, the main issues management activities have been in response to PA House Bill 1341 known as the "Sewage Sludge Testing Act." This proposed legislation authorizes municipalities and the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to conduct sewage sludge testing and requires the DEP to submit reports to the General Assembly.

If HB 1341 is passed, a municipality may adopt an ordinance or resolution authorizing the municipality to conduct tests of land for the application of sewage sludge.[1] The ordinance could require that the testing be paid for by: the entity that applied the sewage sludge; the owner of the land; or the transporter of the sewage sludge.

Not knowing what would be tested, what parameters would be analyzed or how frequently testing would be conducted makes it impossible for wastewater treatment plants to budget such an expense.[2]

The following is a summary of what the PWEA Biosolids Committee has done regarding this issue:

                In December 2009, the Biosolids Committee joined forces with MABA and Pennsylvania Municipal Authorities Association (PMAA) and met with PA House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee staffers to discuss HB1341 before the Legislative Hearing on December 16, 2009 and launched a letter writing campaign to the PA House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee. 

                In March 2010, the Environmental Resources and Energy Committee voted HB 1341 out of Committee to the House floor and as of April 30, 2010 it is being reviewed by the PA House Appropriations Committee.

                At this writing, the Biosolids Committee is in the process of launching a letter writing campaign to the PA House Appropriations Committee members.  It is hoped letters will be sent by wastewater treatment plants, farmers, PWEA, the Eastern, Central and Western sections, PMAA, MABA, farmers and agricultural organizations.

                The Biosolids Committee is developing connections with other organizations to consider ways to work smarter on addressing common issues.

                Diane Garvey's Chrystal Ball – Most of the public's concern about biosolids recycling is fueled by emotional and misleading information on the internet.  If you Google "Sewage Sludge" the first page of results are mostly negative views.  Wouldn't it be great if the first page of an internet search for "biosolids" or "sewage sludge" brought up all sites providing factual information?  Just imagine if those sites were actually interesting and not all research and jargon.  If there were loads of pictures with captions and even video clips, people would actually read the information.

                Today, (buyers/researchers/people looking for information) begin by looking on the Internet, particularly in search engines and social networks like YouTube and Facebook.[3] Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is evolving fast; basics (such as a static website), are no longer enough.  Organizations can adapt and optimize their websites in order to be findable by searchers and to be able to interact with those looking for information.

Utilizing SEO will enable an organization to present their information by getting found by interested parties. In addition, a large internet footprint will increase credibility.  There are over 200 million active users on Facebook.  Thousands of organizations are setting up Facebook pages to help reach people who want to know what they know.  Social media[4] can be used for more than just connecting with friends.

If water quality organizations want to get found online, a blog is a great way to produce ongoing, fresh and current content and to improve our search engine rankings.  By maintaining a blog, we can quickly respond to biosolids issues.  We can distribute factual information in a succinct format and a timely manner to people who will actually read it because they just searched for it on the Internet.  Blogging is a great way to post pictures and videos and respond to commenter's questions.

Other ways to improve search engine rankings include: using key words, tags, and inbound links - sites hyperlinking to you.  Hyperlinking, or Linking, is the ability to click once on a bit of text or an image and have it jump you to another page, or area of a page; it could be linked to your organizations site.  Hyperlinks influence search results even more than keywords.

At present, factual information is scattered across the internet like dust in the wind.  The goal would be to improve all our organizations search engine rankings, increase our internet foot print and provide opportunities to interact with people searching for information about biosolids recycling.


[1] This is what the House Bill says but we don't know if they will be testing the biosolids or the soils (land)

[2] If HB 1341 was passed it would make land application of Class B and possibly Exceptional Quality biosolids unfeasible.  A land applier would never know when a municipality would conduct testing for every parameter known to mankind and send them the bill.

[3] Recently Facebook and Youtube have surpassed Google in the number of searches conducted.

[4] Social media are media designed to be disseminated through social interaction, using highly accessible and scalable publishing techniques. Social media use web-based technologies to transform and broadcast media monologues into social media dialogues. Source; Wikipedia



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Diane Garvey was recently awarded the David A. Long Memorial Educational Service Award by the Pennsylvania Water Environment Association!


This award was established in honor of Dr. David A. Long in recognition of his lifelong service and dedication toward the education and training of wastewater and water treatment plant operators and environmental professionals.


This award is presented to individuals who distinguish themselves through their efforts and contributions to the education of water quality professionals.

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