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Public Outreach/EMS Efforts toward a Sustainable Biosolids Management Program

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The Metro Wastewater Reclamation District (Metro District) generates about 80 dry tons per day of Class B anaerobically digested biosolids that are marketed under the trade name METROGRO® Cake. On an annual basis, ninety percent of the METROGRO® Cake is transported up to 75 miles from the central treatment plant (CTP) and land applied to agricultural land in eastern Colorado. During inclement weather that prevents land application, biosolids are composted at the Metro District's CTP. On average, about ten percent of the biosolids is composted to meet Class A compost criteria and sold as METROGRO® Compost to golf courses, landscapers and home owners in the metro Denver area.

Historically, the production, transport and distribution of METROGRO® Cake was performed 'under the radar', every attempt made to draw as little attention as possible. In addition, the Metro District's purchase of 52,000 acres of farm property, the METROGRO Farm, for the dedicated purpose of land applying biosolids was approached as a private instead of public matter. The public responses to the Metro District's biosolids operations, and move into the farming community, were sometimes negative and often ill-informed. Public concern caused biosolids operations on a portion of the METROGRO Farm to be stopped at one point. The need for a change in attitude was recognized and the Metro District's public relations efforts began in earnest. The National Biosolids Partnership's (NBP) Environmental Management System for Biosolids (EMS) provided a comprehensive and systematic approach to public outreach planning, evaluation and implementation. Biosolids production and product information is now promoted in multiple media and also in CTP and Farm tours and demonstrations. Stakeholder groups are in place for the Metro District's EMS program, major studies and the METROGRO Farm monitoring program. Facilitating communications, access and availability to the public is promoting a sustainable biosolids management program.


Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: October 1, 2007

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