|Managing Our Biosolids|
Land Application is the addition of biosolids to land to condition the soil, fertilize crops or other vegetation grown in soils in order to supply nutrients and replenish soil organic matter. Land application can occur on agricultural land, forests, rangelands, or on disturbed land in need of reclamation. Land application of biosolids has been practiced for thousands of years and has been studied and researched extensively. For more information on biosolids land application view the links below.
Green Acres Farm
In August 2000, the City purchased a 4,688-acre farm named Green Acres in Kern County to ensure a reliable place to manage the City’s biosolids produced at the wastewater treatment plants.
Green Acres Farm has been a beneficial reuse site for reclaimed water generated by the City of Bakersfield since 1989. The use of the reclaimed water is governed by the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board Order No. 88-172. All crops are surface irrigated with reclaimed water using a border check system. When reclaimed water quantities are insufficient to satisfy crop demands, there are two other sources available:
The objectives of the Farm include the following:
The biosolids are applied in bulk and managed as a Class A, EQ product in compliance with all applicable federal, state, and local regulations. As a best management practice tool the City looks to, as guidance, the California Water Environment Association (CWEA) Manual of Good Practice for Agriculture Land Application of Biosolids. At this time, the City contracts with Responsible Biosolids Management, Inc. (RBM) for the loading, transporting, and beneficial use of biosolids at Green Acres Farm. RBM land applies biosolids with conventional agricultural equipment such as manure spreaders, tractors, and front-end loaders. The biosolids are typically incorporated into the soil by means of plowing or disking. The City typically incorporates its biosolids into the soil within 30 minutes after it is off-loaded at the farm. The contract between RBM and the City specifies a minimum daily tonnage of 548 wet tons per day and is set to expire in September 2010.
Crops grown on the Farm include corn, alfalfa, milo, wheat, rye, and Sudan grass. The City’s Green Acres Farm, managed by R&G Fanucchi, had a very productive year. Crop revenues of over $2.6 million offset total farm costs and generated an additional $400,000 profit. This additional revenue comes despite the fact that we land applied less biosolids than the previous year. The graph below shows the crops harvested. These numbers are comparable to crop yields in Kern County.
2011-2012 Green Acres Crop Production
Download Green Acres fact sheet for more Information
To view farming operations click Green Acres Tour.
Legal Challenge Against
Kern County voters, with the passage of Measure E in 2006, approved the ban on the import of the wastewater byproduct, biosolids. The City of Los Angeles, along with other affected Southern California counties and agencies, filed a federal lawsuit which was dismissed in November 2010.
On January 18, 2011, Kern County enforced the Measure E ordinance. The ordinance is effective January 19, 2011 and affected parties have to discontinue land application by July 19, 2011. In light of the enforcement of Measure E, the City of Los Angeles along with other plaintiffs on January 26, 2011 filed a complaint against the Kern County biosolids initiative and filed a motion seeking a preliminary injunction on April 22, 2011 to continue biosolids land application in Kern County pending the outcome of the case. On June 9, 2011, the Tulare County Superior Court granted Plaintiffs Southern California biosolids generators, contractors, haulers and farmers a preliminary injunction against enforcement of the ban while the case is heard. On September 7, 2011, the Court rejected Kern's legal challenges to the sufficiency of Plaintiffs' allegations that Measure E violates the federal Commerce Clause. On September 8, 2011, Kern filed a notice of appeal of the preliminary injunction ruling. On February 13, 2013, in a detailed 34-page opinion, the California Court of Appeal in Fresno upheld the preliminary injunction, thereby allowing biosolids land application to continue pending the outcome of the case. The Court held that the Measure E ban likely conflicted with state law recycling mandates. The Court also ruled that Measure likely exceeded Kern County’s authority because the ban on land application did not accommodate the needs of Southland communities to manage biosolids. The Court further observed that Kern County had presented no evidence of harm to the environment or public safety from continued land application of biosolids. Kern petitioned the California Supreme Court for review the matter. On June 26, the California Supreme Court agreed to take up one of the issues in the litigation: the interpretation of the federal statute that tolls the statute of limitations for state claims while they are being litigated in federal court. The Supreme Court stated the issue to be addressed as follows: “Does 28 U.S.C. section 1367(d) require a party to re-file its state law claims within 30 days of their dismissal from a federal action in which they had been presented, or does it instead suspend the running of the limitations period during the pendency of the claims in federal court and for 30 days after their dismissal?” The court did not consider the more substantive issues worthy of review.
To view legal and other documents related to the lawsuit click the links below.
Declarations supporting Preliminary Injunction
An aerial view of the farm.
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