Biosolid use as fertilizer curtailed north of Longmont

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From the Longmont Times-Call (Brad Turner):

Because of fears about groundwater contamination, spreading sludge — or biosolids, as the industry calls the nutrient-rich material produced by sewage-treatment plants — won’t be an easy option for [farmer Issac Drieth], if it’s allowed to happen at all. “I got nothing against the stuff. It’s done wonders for me,” the 79-year-old said Monday afternoon, leaning against a pickup outside his farmhouse on the Jim Clark Open Space property north of Longmont. “But people around here raise hell.”

Data compiled recently by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment show Drieth lives on a farm where groundwater may be too close to the surface for biosolids use, even though he had been allowed to use sludge as fertilizer from 1996 to 1999.

Drieth would have to pay a contractor to drill holes on his property that prove the water table is at least 5 feet deep — far enough down that nitrates from the sludge wouldn’t seep into the water, according to state health officials. High levels of nitrates in drinking water can cause oxygen deficiencies in young children.

In addition to shutting down biosolids use on part or all of three farms north of Longmont over concerns about the shallow water table in the area, CDPHE officials suspended biosolids use on four farms that hadn’t used sludge in recent years. The 97-acre farm where Drieth has lived for 30 years is one of the four inactive sites.

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