PFAS will Raise Biosolids Costs, Experts Say

PFAS will Raise Biosolids Costs, Experts Say
Eric Spargimino, PE, LEED AP CDM Smith Envi­ron­men­tal Engineer
According to a new report from CDM Smith and its research partners, utilities can expect to see, on average, a 37% increase in biosolids management costs in response to new PFAS regulations.

Many states have implemented limits and regulations on PFAS that have affected biosolids management, which has already reduced the effec­tive­ness of sustainable, energy-efficient beneficial use programs.

To gain a better under­stand­ing of these financial impli­ca­tions, CDM Smith partnered with the Water Environment Foundation (WEF), National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) and the North East Biosolids and Residual Association (NEBRA) to conduct an in-depth survey of affected facilities. The CDM Smith team contacted impacted parties such as water resource recovery facilities, residuals haulers, biosolids land appliers, and facilities dedicated to end use (incin­er­a­tion, compost, landfill, farms, etc.) and requested detailed information regarding cost and operational impacts from the growing variety of state and federal PFAS policies and regulations. The full report is available to download. 

increase in biosolids management costs
facilities responding to our in-depth survey
This report is a helpful first step at identifying the regulatory costs of PFAS.
NACWA news release

While many of the survey responses were qualitative in nature, most of the facilities were able to provide some data on costs before and after PFAS became an issue, allowing our team to evaluate impacts of PFAS regulations on the market. Based on the data provided, the average management cost across the facilities surveyed increased by approx­i­mately 37 percent in response to PFAS regulations. 

Overall, the impact to each facility varies depending on the type of management and geographic location of the facility, among other contribut­ing factors. The fact is that water and wastewater utilities are the receivers of PFAS. Regulation will continue to signif­i­cantly disrupt markets if these utilities and other receivers of PFAS aren’t provided treatment options and funding for PFAS mitigation, and the tools needed to identify and control upstream sources of PFAS.

We need to educate our communities, politicians and regulators on the responsible use of these PFAS compounds, and appropriately applied restrictions, so that biosolids programs and all their benefits can continue while protecting public health.  

Eric Spargimino Eric Spargimino
We need to educate our communities, politicians and regulators on the responsible use of these PFAS compounds.
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PFAS and Biosolids
“Cost Analysis of the Impacts on Municipal Utilities and Biosolids Management to Address PFAS Cont­a­m­i­na­tion” was produced in collab­o­ra­tion with NACWA, WEF and NEBRA.
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