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To “B” or Not to B (Class A), that is the Question: A Utility's Quest to Sustain a Biosolids Market

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The combined efforts of this evaluation study establish the need and advantages of attaining Class A versus Class B level biosolids treatment. This paper is prepared with utilities in mind that are currently attempting to work through this dilemma, with specific emphasis on the cost to benefit of achieving Class A biosolid product for small to medium sized utilities. This paper will focus on the following three considerations of Class A versus B product:

Benefits of the higher level of treatment and improved qualities and characteristics,

Regulatory implications including the advantages and pitfalls, and

Marketability advantages in “recycling”.

This study evaluated the improved qualities and characteristics of the Class A residual product. Biosolids data from two (2) treatment facilities within the same community were compared (and will be further analyzed until the completion of this study through August2002). The second important issue relative to selection of Class A or B biosolids treatment is the current regulatory environment. The current regulatory environment has resulted in a less than clear picture for many utilities for biosolids management planning, including the potential to either severely restrict or prevent the beneficial recycling of biosolids products. Recent implications toward biosolids by a number of sources, some unfounded, have resulted in additional independent evaluations of the regulations and practices relevant to biosolids. Finally, this paper will address the current marketability advantages of the Class A versus Class B biosolid. In reviewing the most common disposition methods for Class B biosolid product generators, the greater majority are limited to utilizing land application, whereas, the Class A or AA biosolid product generators have a greater opportunity for beneficial recycling.

The findings of this paper indicate that the wastewater industry should strongly consider biosolids treatment to Class A levels, if at all possible. The regulatory climate at federal, state, and county levels is a trend of necessitating the higher level of treatment. Depending on the Class A process selected, the cost to achieve Class A level treatment may not be significantly more than the Class B level treatment. The marketability of the Class A biosolid product opens many doors to the utility, including use by the general public. In conclusion, the uncertainty of the current regulatory climate relative to biosolids, along with the increased flexibility and beneficial uses of the Class A product, make the Class A biosolid option a likely part of your utilities future.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2002

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  • Proceedings of the Water Environment Federation is an archive of papers published in the proceedings of the annual Water Environment Federation® Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC® ) and specialty conferences held since the year 2000. These proceedings are not peer reviewed.

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