State regulators to review rules on human waste as fertilizer

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by JIM DOUGLAS

Bio | Email | Follow: @wfaajdouglas

WFAA

Posted on June 18, 2013 at 6:00 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jun 18 at 6:13 PM

State regulators agreed Tuesday to revisit rules on using treated human waste as fertilizer.

The main issue is odor. Some residents near farms using "biosolids" say the smells are ruining their lives and property values.

As WFAA reported, Parker County commissioners held an emergency outdoor meeting Monday to record complaints.

County Judge Mark Riley attended a Tuesday morning hearing in Austin at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. He said experts tell him there should be few odor problems when the biosolids are applied to fields properly.

A company called Renda Environmental collects the sludge from treatment plants, such as Fort Worth’s Village Creek plant, and hauls it to farms and ranches in the program.

Records show the state has received more than 200 complaints over the past decade, but only last month issued its first enforcement notices for nuisance odors in Wise County.

According to documents obtained by WFAA, the stench was so powerful it nearly made the investigator sick.

Renda is contesting the citations. A company spokesman said there is a three- to five-year waiting list for farmers who want to get into the program. Supporters say it’s an effective way to recycle waste.

But some residents want buffer zones to limit where it can be used.

Judge Riley said TCEQ staffers were given five months to study the issue, and to consider whether new rules are needed.

E-mail jdouglas@wfaa.com

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