Public meeting set on biosolids applications

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By Tom Wilmoth

    A public meeting on a permit application to allow the land application of biosolids in Bedford County has been scheduled for next Wednesday, March 13.
    The meeting will be held at Central Virginia    Community    College-Bedford Campus Community Room, 1633 Venture Blvd., Bedford, from 5-7 p.m.
    The meeting is an opportunity for DEQ to discuss technical issues related to the permit application and receive public input on the permit application for the agency to consider; discuss the standard content of permits; and detail how the public can provide comment on a draft permit.
    The Department of Environmental Quality has taken over the permit process for biosolids from the Virginia Health Department, leading to the need for Synagro to apply for the new permits.
    Synagro Central LLC has applied for an issuance of a permit to authorize the land application of biosolids to 576 fields in Bedford County totaling about 13,033 acres of agricultural land. 
    According to a release from DEQ, biosolids refers to solid, semisolid or liquid materials removed from municipal sewage and treated to be suitable for recycling as fertilizer. The biosolids will be land applied as a fertilizer at a controlled rate in accordance with a nutrient management plan that will be developed for each site.  The applicant proposes to utilize biosolids on farmland without a discharge to surface waters. The public may review the permit application at the public meeting and at the DEQ office named below.
    Contact for document requests and additional information: Stephanie L. Bowman; DEQ-Blue Ridge Regional Office-Lynchburg, 7705 Timberlake Road, Lynchburg VA, 24502; Phone: (434) 582-6208; E-mail: stephanie.bowman@deq.virginia.gov; Fax: (434) 582-5125.
    Some changes will be coming to the regulating of biosolids, according to Neil Zahradka, manager of office of land application programs with DEQ.
    When DEQ officially took over the regulatory oversight of biosolids in 2008, the process and regulations of biosolids went through a full review, with some changes being eventually proposed. Those changes, from the State Water Control Board, were voted on in September 2011 and DEQ has been waiting for the governor’s final approval.
    While there aren’t any far-reaching changes to the technical requirements—along with testing, treatment and practices—changes approved include how setback issues are handled with neighbors of properties where biosolids are applied, along with the public notice procedures for biosolids treatments.
    Once signed by the governor, any neighbor desiring an additional setback from his property or residence from treated areas will have to submit a doctor’s note indicating there is a medical condition requiring that additional setback.
     Zahradka said a lot of the changes were to bring clarity to the processes and procedures that were once filled with “shoulds” as opposed to more definitive “shalls.”
    “The overall program doesn’t change tremendously,” he said. “We added more clarity.”
    That goes for everyone involved—land owners, neighboring property owners and those applying the biosolids.