Sludge Beneficial Land-Use Permits: Learning More
- What is "land application"?
- What will this permit do?
- Who is applying?
- What else can I learn about the applicant?
- How can I learn what other people think about this?
- What if I have more questions?
What is "land application"?
Sludge and septage contain nutrients that may be limited or missing from the soils of a particular site. "Land application" is a way of reusing sludge for use as a soil amendment. By spreading the sludge over the land or tilling it into the soil, the soil can become fertile enough to grow hay or other agricultural products.
Under this permit, the waste applied is a sludge produced in either of the following ways:
- treated municipal wastewater
- purified water from a lake or stream into drinking water
- lime-stabilized domestic septage from residential septic tanks
What will this permit do?
The point of applying sludge to land is to increase the level of one or more nutrients. But if the levels of those nutrients are already high enough, the extra nutrients in the sludge might run off into nearby streams. In some cases, too much of one nutrient in the soil can limit the growth of plants.
So before issuing a permit, we study the land where effluent will be applied. We consider things like:
- water and nutrient needs of the plants,
- how the soils hold water and nutrients, and
- nearby wells and groundwater sources.
A beneficial land-use permit does the following:
- Before the sludge is brought to the application site, it is analyzed to ensure that it meets safe levels of bacteria based on state and federal guidelines and regulations. Nutrients in the sludge must also not exceed the land’s capacity to absorb them.
- After the sludge is applied and spread, best management practices must be used to ensure the site does not harm human health or the environment.
By obtaining a permit, the owners and operators of the site where the sludge or septage is applied to the land agree to follow its requirements.
Who is applying?
When you see a public notice about a permit application, look at the first paragraph to find the name of the applicant.
If you do not see the notice published in a newspaper, you can find public notices on our website:
- Search for these notices, plus more status information about the application
- Search for public notices only
What else can I learn about the applicant?
You can learn about this applicant and their plans by contacting them directly. The last paragraph in the public notice will tell you how to contact the applicant.
We also have ways you can learn about this applicant's history with us — for example:
- Other facilities they have permits for
- Other businesses they are related to
- Their environmental track record
How can I learn what other people think about this?
On our website you can search for information about comments others have made about this application. Under Step Three be sure to choose "Include all correspondence...".
What if I have more questions?
Our Public Education Program can help you find the status of applications and tell you more about our permitting processes.
- Call PEP at 800-687-4040
- Or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org