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On June 26, 1997, the Board of County Commissioners of Elbert County, Colorado, issued a cease and desist order prohibiting the Metro Wastewater Reclamation District from applying its biosolids on approximately 30,000 acres it owns in that eastern Colorado county. The Metro District, which serves about 1.3 million residents in metropolitan Denver and produces about 75 dry tons of biosolids a day, did not believe the order was legal and could have chosen solely legal means to resolve the issue. While a legal resolution may have been effective, it would not have solved the major underlying problem: Neighbors surrounding the property feared biosolids. Complicating this problem was a lack of trust.

In the time between a tour of Metro District's Central Treatment Plant and farm property and a hearing scheduled before the Board of County Commissioners a month later, the District was asked to put together an independent biosolids monitoring plan. The county's first concerns were what will be in the biosolids delivered to the District's property and what effect those biosolids will have on both the District's property and surrounding property. The other major concern was trust. It was made clear that neither the county nor the property neighbors trusted the District, the state, or the EPA. And it also was made clear that the District would pay for the monitoring, but the county would control it.

This paper describes a 1.39 million independent monitoring plan that the Metro District developed, the steps the District took in developing it, and the impact independent monitoring is having on the relationships with the county and the neighbors. The plan is now in place; biosolids are being monitored at the point of production, and groundwater, surface runoff, and soils are being monitored on and around the District's farm property.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2000-01-01

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