The 40 CFR Part 503 Biosolids Rule of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) publishes regulations on the management of biosolids. It includes the Clean Water Act amendments of 1977 and 1987, which required regulators and stakeholders to take a more active role in managing and using biosolids. But all of these were state regulations and thus, have no specific requirements for the municipal governments to act on biosolids treatments and processes in their communities.
As a result, the EPA came up with the 40 CFR (Title 40, Code of Federal Regulations) Part 503 Biosolids Rule (Part 503 rule) that will govern the management, the use, and the disposal of municipal sewage sludge. The Part 503 Rule was a result of an extensive study and comprehensive risk assessment that began in the mid-1970s about using biosolids. It is more extensive than any federal rulemaking effort for biosolids.
One of the most important items in Part 503 is the encouragement of the building and establishing of municipal wastewater treatment facilities. This means that each municipality in the United States is encouraged to welcome private treatment facilities or build one of its own biosolids treatment plants. Though there are several misunderstandings and misconceptions about the presence of treatment facilities in the community, municipalities are therefore encouraged to treat wastewater sludge and turn it into biosolids that can then be used by growers and farmers in the communities.
They are also being pushed to treat biosolids to a higher quality level, which means the end products should be Class A or Class A EQ biosolids. There are many biosolids treatment facilities that could only produce Class B biosolids, but this class of biosolids is only used on very limited situations, and they could not be utilized for crops and vegetation.
That being said, municipalities are also being encouraged to minimize the constraints in the use of biosolids. Since neighborhoods, communities, and the society in general are not easily welcoming or open to the presence of biosolids, municipal governments must establish focus groups and discussions that would open the eyes of the community to the benefits of biosolids.
The presence of governments in the utilization of biosolids is an important step in the public acceptance of biosolids use. There are still many steps that need to be taken for the public to be welcoming of treatment plants and the use of biosolids for the growth of plants, crops, vegetation, and many others.