PTC, treated sewer water is not your friend

Ben Nelms's picture

Peachtree City is truly a fine city. It is one that continues to be heralded as one of the most desirable in the United States in which to live and raise a family.

So for all its accolades and attributes, why is it that the mayor and council cannot, or will not, bring themselves to understand that the use of “specially treated wastewater” from the city’s sewage system to irrigate baseball and soccer fields used by the city’s kids is highly questionable?

Our elected officials are joined in their willingness, according to city Leisure Director Randy Gaddo, by the city’s sports associations.

Apparently unknown or dismissed by decision-makers in PTC is a nationwide effort to bring the sludge topic to the forefront. (Does anybody remember a couple of years ago when kids were subjected to herbicides on the same fields that made some sick?)

It was just last year the McElmurray Dairies in Augusta, Ga., finally won a federal lawsuit over the destruction of the genetic line of their cattle, not to mention the death of many of their cows, due to the sewage sludge from the Messerly Wastewater Treatment Plant.

This was sewage sludge (aka biosolids) approved by EPA/EPD for land application.

By the way, EPD took the side of the city of Augusta and the feds against the dairy owner. What PTC will do is scoop up part of the water layer that floats on top of the semi-solid sludge and use it to irrigate the ball fields.

Across America the fight to tell the truth about sludge is ongoing. Jim Bynum’s and the work of the National Sludge Alliance are examples of the evolving wealth of information and data associated with the problem that has long been ignored by federal and state environmental agencies.

Many like former EPA scientist Dr. David Lewis have already left the agency, fed up with the machinations and lies wrapped into the research and in the wording of the 503 rule that governs sludge nationwide.

For example, take the comment of EPA expert on pathogens, Dr. Jim Smith, who said, “The 503 sludge rule never was subjected to a vigorous risk assessment based on the harmful health effects which may arise from bacteria in the sludge.”

Or those of EPA’s Dr. Rosemarie Russo, who said, “EPA failed to conduct research in six areas vitally important to determining the public health risks associated with sludge.”

German scientists reported a decade ago that anywhere from 30-60 drugs can be measured in a typical water sample, according to the March 1998 article “Drugged Waters” by Janet Raloff in Science News.

Bear in mind that what they found was subsequent to wastewater being discharged and then re-introduced into the drinking water system.

And what PTC is planning will occur before the wastewater is ever discharged.

This issue emerged in Europe last decade, according to a 1999 report by the Water Resources Research Center at the University of Arizona’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, when German environmental scientists found clofibric acid, a cholesterol-lowering drug, in groundwater beneath a German water treatment plant.

They later found clofibric acid throughout local waters, and a further search found phenazone and fenofibrate, drugs used to regulate concentrations of lipids in the blood, and analgesics such as ibuprofen and diclofenac in groundwater under a sewage plant.

Meanwhile, other European researchers discovered chemotherapy drugs, antibiotics and hormones in drinking water sources.

If you’re keeping up with current events, you know similar drugs have been found in U.S. drinking water.

Or consider a February 2003 statement from the New Mexico Environmental Department: “The EPA’s own research, which is stated in the preamble to the new proposed (Coded Federal Regulation Section 40, Parts 257 and 503) sludge regulation, has documented in addition to the toxic heavy metals, a list of 25 primary pathogens in sewage sludge.

“Among these are: five bacteria pathogens (including Campylobacter juni, Escherichia coli, Salmonella, Shigetla, and Vibrio Cholerae), nine virus pathogens (Entroviruses, Poliovirus, Coxsackieviruses, Echovirus, Hepatitis A, Norwalk and Norwalk like viruses, Reovirus, and Rotavirus), five helminthes pathogens (among them are hookworms, tapeworms, and nematode worms), five protozoan pathogens (Toxoplasma gondii, Balantidium, Entamoeba histolyca, Giardia lambia, and Cryptosporidium), and one fungi pathogen (Aspergillus).”

If Peachtree City, with the blessing of the athletic associations, is to apply wastewater to its sports fields and risk children’s health, then so be it.

It is unfortunate that our elected leaders did not take retired biologist and local environmental activist Dennis Chase more seriously.

I just hope some parents will do their own research and not depend solely on “experts” from EPA, EPD, the city or the waste treatment industry to make their decisions for them.

Not so long ago, we were told mercury was perfectly safe; so was lead, so was coal dust, so was DDT, so was asbestos, so were PCBs, so was radioactive dust. Remember?

American adults have a long history of believing nearly anything they are told by those in “authority.”

So who knows, maybe the kids that will be exposed to the “specially treated wastewater” might want to do the research themselves. Research works.

Sewer water is not your friend.

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Submitted by rogger on Wed, 02/17/2010 - 4:00pm.

Is there any research on that water that proves it's unsafe for us? I am asking because there are a lot of discussions today on water safety, specially on water treated with chemicals. I remember a while a go there was an intense discussion on using atrazine in agriculture. There was even a trial on that but in the end it was proved that the substance is used at safe levels. I think we should only be alarmed when there is clear evidence for that, and if that water is a hazard then we should be aware of the proofs by now.

Submitted by cdl305 on Thu, 02/28/2008 - 3:14pm.

In the world of water and wastewater, there is a distinct difference between treated wastewater and sludge. While I have not followed the story in great detail, I have never read, except in this editorial, that the city planned to spread sludge. Sludge, in its unprocessed form, can be a promordial ooze. Treated wastewater, on the other hand, is widely used for irrigation. Australia has probably the greatest history with it due to their limited supply of fresh water, although it is in use successfully throughout the US, even in PTC supposedly. Either the city is mis-representing information or we have an instance of biased reporting. The biggest challenge with utilizing treated wastewater is changing land management practices to accomodate for the increased levels of salts, which can negatively impact turf plants.

mudcat's picture
Submitted by mudcat on Tue, 02/26/2008 - 8:20pm.

If sludge is your game, go find out where the sludge from PTC went in the 70's and 80's. Give you a hint - SE corner of Redwine Road and 74 - behind that old white house. Is anything built there - like a school or something that we should care about? Yes, methinks.

Who owned the land, who owned the sewer system, who had to dispose of the sludge, who had a baited hunting field there, who sold the land for the school? Gee, I've done your research for you.

Check it out Ben. Another hint - public records that were filed with the county.

Submitted by sageadvice on Wed, 02/27/2008 - 5:31am.

Might the Star's Mill schools mold down sometime?

Submitted by ptcmom678 on Tue, 03/04/2008 - 8:54am.

Actually, ask any faculty member over at the complex - it is already not the best environment as far as mold goes. Several faculty members have had allergies or other lung conditions develop due to the conditions there. Wonder how many kids have had similar conditions develop due to the mold in the environment.


Robert W. Morgan's picture
Submitted by Robert W. Morgan on Wed, 02/27/2008 - 6:15am.

You may be hinting that the mold or bacteria in the police station could come from sludge as well. That's really reaching - just because the land was owned by the same company in both cases and that company also owned the sewer treatment plant adjacent to the police station site. That would mean that one of the highly-paid and dedicated sewer employees took it upon themselves to dump sludge into a nearby dump (the police station site) instead of hauling it 10 miles down to the school site. That implies that someone didn't care about the enviornment, the health of future generations or the laws governing sludge disposal and was also lazy.

How suspicious.

bad_ptc's picture
Submitted by bad_ptc on Tue, 03/04/2008 - 10:42am.

Google “MRSA” and find out. I suggest you be in a sitting position first.

CDC: MRSA Not from Food Animals, Compiled By Staff, March 3, 2008

“Claims that food animals are increasingly the source of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus bacteria in humans are greatly exaggerated.”

DNA Pollution May Be Spawning Killer Microbes

Rogue genetic snippets spread antibiotic resistance all over the environment.
by Jessica Snyder Sachs

“Outbreaks of MRSA in public schools recently made headlines, but that is just the tip of the iceberg.”

“Wright suspects that the antibiotic-drenched environment of commercial livestock operations is prime ground for such transfer. “You’ve got the genes encoding for resistance in the soil beneath these operations,” he says, “and we know that the majority of the antibiotics animals consume get excreted intact.” In other words, the antibiotics fuel the rise of resistant bacteria both in the animals’ guts and in the dirt beneath their hooves, with ample opportunity for cross-contamination.”

“While livestock operations are an obvious source of antibiotic resistance, humans also take a lot of antibiotics—and their waste is another contamination stream. Bacteria make up about one-third of the solid matter in human stool, and Scott Weber, of the State University of New York at Buffalo, studies what happens to the antibiotic resistance genes our nation flushes down its toilets.”

“Mackie has found that soil bacteria around conventional pig farms, which use antibiotics, carry 100 to 1,000 times more resistance genes than do the same bacteria around organic farms.”

Somebody’s lying to us, we just don’t know who yet.

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