Human Feces Being Spread Across Albemarle Farmland

Human feces is being sprayed on a field near the South Fork of the Rivanna Reservoir, Sean Tubbs reports for Charlottesville Tomorrow, and it’s perfectly legal. The neighbors, understandably, aren’t thrilled. Recyc Systems, of Culpeper, has a permit to spread the waste—aka “biosolids”—on a total of ten square miles of the county, which they haul down here from Washington D.C.’s wastewater sewage plant. It’s all done for free because—would you believe it?—apparently people won’t pay to have human feces spread all over their property, but they will have it done for nothing. A recent study by the Environmental Protection Agency found that biosolids are full of all the horrible things that your body has the good sense to excrete, including steroids, hormones, flame retardants, and heavy metals. There are some legal restrictions that help, like that livestock can’t graze on the land for thirty days after application, and a plan has to be submitted that explains how phosphorous and nitrogen will be kept out of the watershed.

Even if the county wanted to limit this, there’s no reason to think that they could—it’s regulated by the state, and the county isn’t given the power to regulate it.

18 Responses to “Human Feces Being Spread Across Albemarle Farmland”


  • What’s the difference between this and the compost (from sewage) that the RSWA was selling? (That is, until the folks complained about the smell of the operation) A lot of people spread that on their lawns (me included)

  • Good question! I don’t have any idea, but I hope somebody else can explain what—if anything—is different here.

  • There was a great uproar from those who want to build the mega dam and not dredge for water supply, that the water in South Fork Reservoir might have contaminants that would preclude dredging, doesn’t this operation pose a danger for our water supply from the runoff ?
    I would like more data based information about that.

  • Sean,

    Here is a good primer on the difference between Class A and Class B biosolids. What comes here from Blue Plains is Class B, while what the RWSA ships on to Waverly is composted into Class A.

    Sean Tubbs
    Charlottesville Tomorrow

  • This is a perfect metaphor for what flows down from Richmond (or Washington) It is in the interest of the DEQ to find places to dispose of this stuff, and so encourages its use (and proclaims its safety) – and under the Dillon Rule, localities are prohibited from restricting the application locally – and so it continues to flow downhill (literally……) I wouldn’t graze cattle or harvest hay on a field where it had been spread. We’re also getting hammered to stop runoff pollutants to “Save the Bay”, but can’t prevent the application of biosolids in the watershed. Typical – one foot on the accelerator and the other on the brake…..

  • Maybe I missed something. Why is this stuff being brought all the way down here? Why can’t they spread it in their own region?

  • I read the class A / class B article, thanks. But how do they, or do they, remove any of the industrial pollutants and solvents we know are poured down the drain sometimes?

  • It looks like they sprayed it all over a favorite news source as a first local trial. Looks like class c biosolids used there though.

  • Thank you, I have a new euphemism now:

    “Miss Parsley, your political position is pure Class C biosolids.”

  • I was referring to the apparent redesign of the site, but much of the commentary could be described that way as well. Strictly A ’round here though.

  • Health reasons aside, they do make for good fertilizer though, don’t they? It’s a shame we’re just be flushing the nutrients down the river.

    And what’s worse; putting sludge on fields where hay is harvested and cows are grazed or putting it in our oceans and rivers where we swim and harvest seafood?

  • And what’s worse; putting sludge on fields where hay is harvested and cows are grazed or putting it in our oceans and rivers where we swim and harvest seafood?

    Must we pick from those two options?

  • Might there be other instances of sludge dumping in Albemarle County? Is theauthor sure this is the only one?

  • The author—Shaun Tubbs—didn’t say that Fotta’s land is the only parcel. In fact, he pointed out that there are others:

    Flory said Recyc Systems has never been cited for improperly discharging sludge in Albemarle.

    […]

    However, he said Recyc is currently being cited for two applications of sludge that occurred before the 100-day notification period to the county was up. Neither was on Fotta’s land.

    So that’s at least two locations. But how many locations have been treated in total, and how many times it has been applied to those locations, is not addressed.

  • Why not dispose of this material at current or former landfills and brownfield sites, where groundwater quality has either been compromised, is being tested periodically, or both?

  • This thread is hilarious.

  • There are two vendors currently authorized by the DEQ to apply biosolids in Albemarle County. The main one is Recyc, which has permission to apply the material on 6,400 acres. The other is Synagro, which is not nearly as active.

    Another fact. Over 39,000 wet tons of biosolids have been applied in Albemarle in the past three years, and 12,718 dry tons. Most of it comes from the Blue Plains wastewater treatment plant in DC.

    Sean Tubbs
    Charlottesville Tomorrow

  • Can’t we just get local “biosolids” to be spread on our fields? ;-)

    Support Local Farms! Buy Local Poop!

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