Save Carbon County launches campaign against sewage sludge use in agriculture

Round concrete sewer tunnel full of sludge and garbage.

Members of Save Carbon County, a local environmental advocacy group, gathered outside the Carbon County Administration Building on Thursday to announce their new campaign against the use of sewage sludge as fertilizer on area farms. This initiative includes an advertising campaign in the Times News over the next 30 days, which will encourage the public to support local farmers by purchasing directly from farms, while also questioning the use of sewage sludge on their land.

Lucy Freck, an officer for Save Carbon County, emphasized the importance of this campaign by highlighting the unknown dangers of sewage sludge, including the presence of PFAs (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) and other harmful contaminants. “People don’t realize all the dangers of sewage sludge,” Freck stated. She pointed out that while there are tests to remove these contaminants from water, no such tests exist for the sludge itself. “Where does it go after they remove it from the water? In the sludge,” she added.

The group has expressed concerns about the long-term environmental and health impacts of using sewage sludge in agriculture, citing cases from other states where farming lands have been adversely affected by this practice. According to Save Carbon County, approximately 5% of Carbon County farms currently use sewage sludge.

Linda Christman, president of Save Carbon County, voiced the group’s determination to continue fighting until sewage sludge is “properly monitored, tested, and regulated.” She believes that local governments should have a significant role in deciding the use of sewage sludge to better protect residents. “We also believe that local government should have a meaningful say in the use of sewage sludge so that they can protect their residents,” Christman said.

Freck hopes the new ad campaign will shed light on the broader impacts of using sewage sludge as fertilizer. “The impact of sewage sludge use goes well beyond the lands where the sludge is used,” she explained. “It negatively impacts a way of life not only of farmers and their livelihood, but also of residents and neighbors who live around the site. It impacts their health and quality of life.”

To support local farmers in demonstrating their commitment to sustainable practices, Save Carbon County is offering “This Farm is Sludge-Free” signs at no cost. Farmers interested in receiving a sign can call 570-676-2644 to request delivery.

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