Biosolids are a nutrient-rich by-product generated from wastewater treatment. The treatment process separates solids and water whereby after the treatment, water is discharged to the Willamette River while the solids are processed further to meet state and federal regulations. This further processing turns the solids into a useful by-product that is an effective fertilizer.
The biosolids produced by Clackamas County’s Water Environment Services (WES) originate at four treatment plants: Kellogg Creek Treatment Plant )located on the Willamette River in Milwaukie) serves much of the North Clackamas area , Tri-City Treatment Plant (located north of the I-205 and Highway 213 interchange in Oregon City) serves Oregon City, Gladstone and West Linn; Hoodland Treatment Plant (located in Welches) serves the Hoodland Corridor area near Mt. Hood; and Boring Treatment Facility (located in Boring) serves the community of Boring.
Why use biosolids?
The Biosolids reuse program began in 1970, with 80 acres of biosolids land application. Since then it has grown to more than 3,028 wet tons applied per year to 252 acres of farmland throughout Clackamas County. Biosolids are a valuable recycled resource and are the nutrient-rich organic materials that result from the wastewater treatment process. The biosolids are used to improve soil conditions and provide a useful soil additive to pastures, providing cost savings to farmers by eliminating the need for expensive fertilizers.
As the earth’s population, and more specifically the population of Clackamas County, grows, resource conservation has become essential. It is everyone’s responsibility to reduce, reuse and recycle our natural resources. By reclaiming these solids from wastewater, WES and the community is doing its part to save money and resources by reducing dependence on petroleum-based fertilizers. Did you know that nearly 42% of all U.S. produced wastewater solids are used as fertilizer?
Another great reason to use biosolids is because many of the metals, which naturally occur in the soil, are actually plant micronutrients. The amount of metals in biosolids is carefully regulated and monitored by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ensure there are healthy amounts of metals allowed in biosolids.
Where are biosolids applied?
Currently, biosolids are applied on hay, pasture and dryland wheat. The fields chosen for biosolids application are first approved by the State of Oregon's Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ.). DEQ applies strict criteria established by the EPA for each wastewater treatment facility and application site.
“ We have increased our hay production by 48% as users of biosolids.” - Mel Block, farm owner.
“ We have been using biosolids on my farms at Beavercreek for the past 20 years.” - John R. Rosebrook, farm owner.
The Biosolids Management Policy …
WES will continue effective source control activities and investigate/ implement feasible, innovative and cost-effective resource recovery options in order to promote a diversified beneficial reuse biosolids program in order to protect our water resources in Clackamas County.