By Alex Bridges
A biosolids supplier may soon expand its efforts to spread sludge on farmland in Warren County.
The Department of Environmental Quality appeared on track Friday to approve a draft permit for Virginia-based Recyc Systems Inc. to put treated human waste and wastewater treatment plant residuals on more fields in the county. The supplier sought to expand the use of sludge by approximately 260 acres.
The DEQ received no comments from the public by the deadline Wednesday, according to Keith Showman, senior water permit writer for the agency. Nor did DEQ receive any requests to hold a public hearing on the draft permit, Showman stated by email Friday.
"The next step in the process is the finalizing and signing of the draft permit, which could be completed as early as today," Showman stated.
DEQ published a public notice in November announcing the opening of a 30-day public comment period on Recyc's application to modify its permit to add 14 fields on which it can spread sludge.
Recyc Systems, of Remington, submitted an application to the DEQ in July requesting to expand the area on which it can apply biosolids by 386.5 acres. Recyc Systems could apply biosolids on more than 1,100 acres in Warren County under its recent permit. With the modification the permit allows Recyc Systems to spread sludge on 1,366.9 acres.
The permit requires the applicant to monitor the process and to submit monthly and yearly reports to the DEQ. The permittee must also pay fees to the DEQ for the application of the biosolids.
DEQ issued the first permit to Recyc Systems for 307 acres in 2009. DEQ approved expansions of 423 acres in 2010 and 375.9 acres in 2011, at which point the agency also allowed Recyc to apply wastewater treatment plant residuals.
Some residents who attended a public meeting DEQ held on the request in October voiced opposition to an expansion of the permitted area. Members of the Warren County Board of Supervisors also expressed concern that the state does not give the elected body any authority or say over such a request. Del. C. Todd Gilbert, R-Woodstock, proposed a bill in the Virginia general assembly that, if approved, would have given local elected boards authority over land application of biosolids.
The DEQ received a request not long after the meeting from Recyc Systems indicating the supplier wanted to withdraw three of properties from the original application. The fields removed from the application, located on the Larry Andrews site, include land along Catlett Mountain across from the Shenandoah River from Skyline High School, as well as fields at the intersection of Va. 55 and U.S. 340-522, according to Showman.
Removal of the fields reduced the requested area for expansion by 125.9 acres, leaving 260.6 acres for DEQ's consideration.
Recyc submitted its request to reduce the area for the permit in response to the comments made at the public meeting, according to Showman.
"It is not uncommon for applicants to revise their permit application requests voluntarily based on public comment received at a public information meeting and/or the 30-day public comment period," Showman stated by email.
Visit www.deq.virginia.gov/Programs/Water/LandApplicationBeneficialReuse/PublicNotices.aspx for more information about the permit, restrictions and requirements, and biosolids application.
Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or firstname.lastname@example.org