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Re: E-M:/ Ypsilanti Community Utilities Authority May Reject Composting for Incineration of Sewer Sludge
Enviro-Mich message from joonmck <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I feel the predicament of Ypsilanti's citizens, as passionately put
forward by Judy Shazer (Huron Valley Group Sierra Club). And I note
Craig Harris's even-handed depiction of the sludge issue as a thorny
Were citizens in most communities as vigorous as Ms. Shazer in
encouraging democratic dialogue on the issue.
But the very fact that the sludge issue has surfaced into the public
arena is a victory for Ypsilanti. Why? In part because few stakeholders
in most Michigan communities, I would imagine, even know much about the
issue. And those people who are abit aware of the controversies (such as
state and local government officials) generally prefer to stay safely
behind the scenes. Though if municipalities are THAT worried about
liability, as Harris states, the issue might soon explode (Craig, what
data/testimonies/sources do you have on this?).
I'm shocked to hear that Ypsilanti dropped $2.5 mil into two studies.
"Yipes,-the-anti" is always rising down there. And I'm as disturbed as
Ms. Shazer that the issue might not receive a full hearing.
Might the $2.5 million have been better spent? On new technologies
I wades in with the views of these two commentators/organizations:
First, the classic review by Peter Montague (adapted from Abby A.
Rockefeller) in Rachels' Environmental Weekly (April 1999) Parts 1 & 2;
part 2 refers to some possible solutions):
"Therefore -- as heroic a task as this may seem -- it is time to re-
think centralized water-carriage sewage treatment systems. The present
systems were not designed to produce useable products and therefore the
DESIGN of present systems is the root of the problem.
"Three policy goals are needed: (1) Sewer avoidance (stay off or get off
water-carriage, centralized sewer systems). (2) Promote low-cost, on-
site resource recycling technologies, such as composting toilets, that
avoid polluting water and preclude wasting resources. (3) Price water
right so that the market works to keep it clean, not contaminate it with
Read the details (and an interesting history) for yourself at:
Then there is CQS, a Massachusettes-based environmental group. Here's
what they say (largely echoing Montague and Rockefeller):
"Short-term, we can demand:
1.Standards based on "background" concentrations of heavy metals - the
amount found in
unsludged, non-irrigated West Coast farmland. The Dutch sludge standard
is also a good
starting point. (See the Sewage Sludge Fact Pack, available from
Environmental Research Foundation.)
2.Zero tolerance of organochlorines, other organic chemicals and
solvents, asbestos, and
3.Low-heat drying or composting of all sludges to eliminate pathogens
and runoff, and
disposal in secure (concrete-lined) landfills.
"Long-term, we at CQS believe the answer lies in wholesale conversion to
home/apartment composting toilets and community greywater (kitchen,
bath, and laundry washwater) treatment systems. Home composting toilets
are available for less than $1000 each, and last for many years. That is
less than 10 years of New York City's costs per home for sludge
processing alone. Similar economics apply to many other cities and
towns. Industrial wastes must be removed at their source: there is no
excuse for toxic substances in community wastewater. The goal must be
Review their arguments at:
P.S. And for you Ypsilanti citizens out there….try to get to that
meeting on Tuesday (Feb 27) at 3:00 p.m. at the YCUA offices. As Shazer
has put it: "Concerned residents fear that a vote will be taken on
Tuesday without public input. DO WE REALLY
WANT TO BURN OUR SEWER SLUDGE in our local community when we have a
viable composting solution?? It is hard to imagine the community really
wants incineration as a solution. Please consider attending the meeting
at the YCUA offices, located at 2777 State Road Ypsilanti, Michigan
48198, to demand a public hearing on this issue. For directions, call
734-544-7129, or go to the YCUA web page at www.ycua.org."
Judith Stein Shazer wrote:
> The Ypsilanti Community Utilities Authority treats a large quantity of
> the sewer water in southeast Michigan. After the sewer treatment
> process, there is an amount of "sludge" or biosolids, which need to
> be disposed of. Currently, YCUA has been burning the sludge, causing
> a large environmental impact on the local area.
> Several years ago, YCUA spent $2 million dollars on a pilot study to
> determine whether composting was an environmently and economical way
> to dispose of sewer sludge. A report was generated and presentation
> given showing that composting was a viable solution. The YCUA board (3
> Township people and 2 Ypsilanti City people) voted (3 to 2) to
> suddenly spent another $500,000 for another study. The results from
> this study will be presented this Tuesday (Feb 27) at 3:00 p.m. at the
> YCUA offices and will show that incineration is the best solution.
> Concerned residents fear that a vote will be taken on Tuesday without
> public input. DO WE REALLY WANT TO BURN OUR SEWER SLUDGE in our
> local community when we have a viable composting solution?? It is hard
> to imagine the community really wants incineration as a solution.
> Please consider attending the meeting at the YCUA offices, located at
> 2777 State Road
> Ypsilanti, Michigan 48198, to demand a public hearing on this issue.
> Again, the meeting is on Tuesday, February 27th at 3:00 pm. For
> directions, call 734-544-7129, or go to the YCUA web page at
> If you are concerned, but can't attend, please consider calling the
> YCUA board members on Monday to ask them to hold a public hearing on
> this issue, before taking a vote. Ypsilanti township residents are
> particularly encouraged to call, as the Ypsilanti Township trusties
> voted for the second study, and may be disposed to continue the
> incineration solution.
> For more information, contact interested citizen Dave Strenski at
> 313-317-4438 work; 734-480-1587 home.
> Submitted by Judy Shazer, Huron Valley Group Sierra Club
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