Sewage Sludge:

How Do We Cope With It?

CED-78-152: Published: Sep 25, 1978. Publicly Released: Sep 25, 1978.

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About 5 million tons of sludge are produced each year and the amount is increasing at a rapid rate. Sludge disposal options are limited. Federal and state environmental regulations have restricted such options as landfill and incineration and ocean dumping is being phased out because of dangers to human and marine life.

The nutrient content of sludge could make it valuable as a fertilizer and it also has potential as an energy source. However, its bacterial and toxic content limit its agricultural use and its feasibility for energy use has not been proven. In spite of these problems, the use of sludge as a resource is still the most viable solution to dealing with this substance. However, this has not been done because such use has not been encouraged by federal and state authorities, guidance has been lacking, and there has been no comprehensive national sludge disposal policy.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) should develop a national sludge management policy emphasizing sludge use as a resource. The policy should deal with agricultural and nonagricultural land uses, sales and giveaways of sludge, and the feasibility of thermal combustion systems. EPA should: fund full-scale demonstration projects if it is determined that current projects cannot be used to determine the feasibility of thermal combustion, communicate the results of successful demonstrations to interested communities, and monitor the growth and development of systems which have been successfully demonstrated to determine the need for additional Federal support.

    Agency Affected:


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