From Sludge to Brokered Biosolids

by Teresa Austin, Asst. Editor; Civil Engineering Magazine, ASCE World Headquarters, 345 East 47th Street, New York City, NY.,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1992, Vol. 62, Issue 8, Pg. 32-35

Document Type: Feature article


At the end of June, a sludge filled barge pulled away from New York harbor for the last time. It traveled more than 100 mi offshore, where workers unloaded some of the 355 dry tons of sludge that New York City produces each day. The recent end of 60 years of ocean dumping (mandated by the Ocean Dumping Ban Act of 1988) has forced the East Coast dumpers to decide in three or four years what other U.S. cities have tried to figure out over the last two decades: how to dispose of ever-increasing amounts of sludge in an environmentally acceptable and economically sound way. The former ocean dumpers (nine sewage authorities that include some of the world's largest sludge producers) are entering into residuals management when even the old timers are facing major changes. Sludge treatment became an issue in the 1970s, when the advent of secondary wastewater treatment produced twice as much sludge as primary treatment. After several years of developing beneficial reuses for sludge, wastewater experts must now focus on developing markets and educating a sometimes suspicious public. In October, after several delays, EPA will issue the first comprehensive federal sludge regulations. Many engineers believe these regulations will push municipalities even further away from incineration and landfill disposal options toward land-based alternatives.

Subject Headings: Sludge | Solid wastes

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