Department of Ecology News Release - November 6, 2014

Appeals court upholds state biosolids law
Wahkiakum County ordinance is overturned

OLYMPIA – A Wahkiakum County ordinance banning the application of biosolids was overturned Tuesday, Nov. 4, by the Washington Court of Appeals, Division 2, in Pierce County.

The decision, that state law cannot be overridden by a local ordinance, was upheld by the court when it ruled that Wahkiakum County’s ordinance was unconstitutional and conflicts with state law.

Biosolids are the product of waste water treatment systems that can be beneficially recycled. They contain valuable nutrients and organic matter that improve soil condition and promote plant growth.

In 2011, Wahkiakum County passed an ordinance banning the application of Class B biosolids, septage or sewage sludge to any land within the county.

In response, the Washington Department of Ecology filed a complaint against the county alleging that the ordinance violated the state constitution. A Cowlitz County Superior Court had previously ruled in favor of Wahkiakum County.

“Responsibly using biosolids  as a soil nutrient was mandated by the Legislature in 1992 when it unanimously passed a law directing Ecology to establish a program to manage the solids resulting from municipal sewage,” said Laurie Davies, manager of Ecology’s Waste 2 Resources Program. “We are pleased the court ruled accordingly.”



Melissa Rohlfs, communications manager, 360-407-6239, @EcySW

Peter Lyon, program manager, 360-407-6381