Sludge Dumping Plot Thickens

May 17, 2018 – A call to our Association yesterday from Mr. Jason Phillipe of San Bernardino Environmental Health indicated that any action to implement land-spreading changes to the County Code will be delayed until the impact of SB1383 provisions have been considered. The bill was passed in September of 2016, and although it is supposed to reduce dairy methane emissions it could also have implications related to the dumping of methane containing elements of sewage sludge as well. 


 The fact that methane contributes about thirty times as much as carbon dioxide to atmospheric warming, regardless of what position one takes about that warming or not, must have been the raison d’être behind the bill.

But no matter what the motivating factor was, perhaps efforts to implement related laws could have a very positive impact in preventing the dumping of water treatment so-called compost in our rural areas and Newberry Springs to be specific, this being a very dangerous material considering the harmful metals, drugs, vectors, etc. that it contains or generates in situ.

Several residents here in our community both members and non-members of our Association allege that the dumping of this sludge is ongoing and is in many circumstances not properly processed according to statute in the fields for which is was intended, frequently sitting for extended periods above ground contributing to unbearable stench and overwhelming swarms of insects.

If you’ve ever driven by the Barstow water treatment facility when the wind is right (Did you pass gas?), there is incontrovertible evidence of the existence of methane in waste water. Why can’t that methane be eliminated using the same methods that digesters currently use to process and then burn the gas instead of abusing rural communities with urban offal?

Our guess is that the profiting waste industry has convinced farmers and many unenlightened consumers of the immense benefits of the use of this ‘harmless’ material, even paying them to spread it because the opposition it might generate from a delusional community of local activists.

The bottom line is that our community needs to continue opposing this loose interpretation of a County Code purposely so amorphous that it will allow waste profiteers to continue to dump this stuff in our back yards by the trucks-full. But feeding the alfalfa grown with the stuff to animals that may ultimately find their way to urban tables as well may ultimately provide the recompense that the waste industry so richly deserves for promoting this stuff as a boon to mankind.