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Municipal Sewage Sludge for Fertilizer

 
pollinator
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I'm a big fan of Ronnie Cummings Organic Consumers Association donate and subscribe to their newsletter.   This just in - I want to throw up, then never buy  ANY industrial  food again.   It's been my goal for 10 years but I'm only 50% there.   Now I'm really motivated.

As if it couldn't get any worse, I didn't know about this municipal wastewater sludge practice.  Ugh.

Oops - I just realized I gave my email URL instead of the Organic Consumers Association website so I'm replacing it here.   I think you can be safe - it's a website I visit regularly.

https://www.organicconsumers.org/bytes/organic-bytes-610-could-be-ticket
 
pollinator
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I haven't read the article (I'm very leery of clicking on links due to possible viruses) but I would totally avoid municipal sludge. Even the USDA won't approve it for organic ag. If the USDA says its contaminated, then it must be bad.

Just think what goes down the sewer......everything! As a child I watched my parents and neighbors dispose of medication, unwanted cleaning products, old paint, even stale gasoline down the drain!!!
 
Susan Pruitt
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Yes we want to avoid sludge but the concern is how?   There's no way to know what fertilizer that growers around the country use, or even locally for that matter.    I'm glad to report that after my original post I researched my own city's wastewater sludge handling and found a fascinating description of the many steps and technologies it goes thru before it is incinerated and the ash is sent to the landfill.  I don't know if that's "best practice" but it sounds good so I'm glad I don't have to haunt the halls at city council meetings to fight for change.   But as for the fluoride and chloramines in our drinking water........that's another story for another forum
 
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We use all of the sludge from our own residential sewage treatment plant to fertilize our fruit trees and grape vines.



It's exactly the same as the stuff on the bottom of our fish ponds when I clean them out.







 
Su Ba
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Yes Greg, I'd use my own wth no objection. But not the municipal stuff.

I already collect urine for fertilizer use. Livestock manure goes into my compost and human manure into hole preparation for the next orchard tree. Once I run out of trees to add to the farm, I plan to build our own sewage treatment system.
 
Greg Mamishian
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Su Ba wrote:Yes Greg, I'd use my own wth no objection. But not the municipal stuff.

I already collect urine for fertilizer use. Livestock manure goes into my compost and human manure into hole preparation for the next orchard tree. Once I run out of trees to add to the farm, I plan to build our own sewage treatment system.



I totally understand, Su. We trust our own sewage sludge. My wife and I are both vegeterians so there's no meat pathogens in the sludge. We also don't take any pharmaceutical drugs so there's no chemical toxin issue there.

Another benefit to pumping our own sewage sludge is that for the rest of our lives, we never have to pay hundreds of dollars to have our tank professionally pumped. I have a little portable pump setup I call the "Sludge Puppy". I simply lower a footswitch controlled pump into the tank, pump out the sludge into buckets, and pour the buckets wherever we need fertilizer.

We transformed a literal waste product into a valuable commodity.
 
pollinator
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Probably not all sewerage sludge is toxic. I would simply ask for the analysis, I'm pretty sure they are doing it because they want to get rid of the sludge. incineration of the sludge is not very enivro friendly either. It depends if the sludge constains industrial waste or not.
 
gardener
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Greg Mamishian
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Interesting article, Shawn.
Seeing that America has become a narcoculture it's kind of karmic that people would end up eating their own drugs. It's also why we deal with our own shit... literally. (lol) We are personally responsible for the waste we produce by processing it ourselves and putting it to good use. It's drug free so we have no problem fertilizing our own food supply with our own processed sewage.
 
Greg Mamishian
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paul salvaterra wrote:so you keep your septic system 'safe' and only  you and your wife use it .  What do your guests use, ??  Sorry but i firmly believe no form of  human waste is 'safe' near ediabilesthat would include any orchard.  Science says  you may loose one day.  I   understand  some will not like to hear it but that is the way it is.  just because it has never happened, do not be lulled into thinking it never will
Paul



Our friends share our values. Everyone here is free to do whatever they see fit. I'm simply describing my own personal approach which is to learn how to creatively adapt in order to live a good life in this world just as it is right now, and not in my fantasy of what I feel it should be.
 
master pollinator
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paul salvaterra wrote:so you keep your septic system 'safe' and only  you and your wife use it .  What do your guests use, ??  Sorry but i firmly believe no form of  human waste is 'safe' near ediabilesthat would include any orchard.  Science says  you may loose one day.  I   understand  some will not like to hear it but that is the way it is.  just because it has never happened, do not be lulled into thinking it never will
Paul



It doesn't matter how firmly you believe a thing if it's not verifiably true.

Human waste can be processed quite simply to render it safe. One of the most popular ways is thermophilic, as in hot composting. Some people like to use Black Soldier Fly Larvae, which are funneled to chickens. Some even use way more carbon than necessary, causing it to dry out, or catch their deposits on mesh or wooden slat grating, in a chimneyed environment that encourages dessication.

The key issue here is pathogenicity. That's why fresh human feces can be dangerous and require care in handling. If they are completely dried out, or go through a complete bacterial decomposition, or are eaten by poop-eating insects, the pathogens die. They need moisture to live, are sensitive to being eaten by voracious bacteria, and can't generally survive the digestion process of non-host organisms.

I would be more concerned with heavy metals and persistent toxic gick ingested with our food and medications. For that reason, I would probably spread processed human wastes in a woodlot, to grow fuel crops, or in preparation for growing green manure crops. In either case, the wastes are uptaken as nutrients, and either burned, and the ashes can then be used as fertiliser, or turned into mulch and planted into, in the case of the green manures.

South American indigenous cultures that existed without benefit of manure-producing livestock used their own. I believe the Aztecs did so in conjunction with their chinampas.

-CK
 
master pollinator
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The spreading of sludge, or biosolids, has been in practice in many areas of NA for decades.  I think that it would be just OK if it was only comprised of #1 & #2, but people dump all sorts of crap (not actual crap) down the drains.

I think that there are still many areas in the world that use untreated human waste as fertilizer.  That doesn't interest me, but I do wonder if it's better than the sludge we produce with all the extra chemicals.
 
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