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Biosolids Complaint, Annual Audit, & Environmental Health & Safety

Submit a Biosolids Complaint

The City of Fort Worth’s biosolids program is proactive in responding to complaints regarding odors, spills or drag out attributable to land application activities or the transportation of biosolids.

If you are aware of land application of biosolids in your area and have a complaint regarding odors, spills or drag out, send an email to biosolids@fortworthtexas.gov with “Biosolids Complaint” in the subject line so city personnel can investigate the issue.

Include the following information in your email:

  • Contact information (used to log the complaint for our files)
  • Type of complaint (odor, spill, drag out)
  • Date you noticed the issue
  • Time you noticed the issue
  • Location you noticed the issue (street, farm road, county road, etc.)
  • For odor complaints:
  • Rate its intensity as very light, light, moderate, strong or very strong.
  • Describe the odor using the following descriptors:
  • Soapy
  • Stale
  • Smoky
  • Ammonia
  • Septic
  • Rubbery
  • Paint
  • Sewer
  • Metallic
  • Fruity
  • Ashes
  • Swampy
  • Burnt
  • Vomit
  • Gasoline
  • Petroleum
  • Sour
  • Citrusy
  • Moldy
  • Woody
  • Fecal
  • Dead Animal
  • Moth Balls
  • Sulfur
  • Grease
  • Woody
  • Mushroom
  • Yeast
  • Garbage
  • Creosote
  • Shoe Polish
  • Turpentine
  • Kerosene
  • Grassy
  • Musky
  • Fishy
  • Manure
  • Earthy
  • Vinegar
  • Floral
  • Tar
  • Musty
  • Pine
  • Urine
  • Rotten Eggs
  • Solvent
  • Alcohol
  • Vegetable
  • Chlorinous

Public Participation During Biosolids EMS Audit

In July 2005 the Fort Worth Biosolids Program obtained certification from the National Biosolids Partnership for establishing and maintaining an Environmental Management System (EMS).

The Biosolids EMS is a systematic approach that helps the city to continually improve activities that are associated with environmental performance. This year, the Biosolids EMS Program is undergoing a third-party audit, which is scheduled from Oct. 11-13, 2017.

To submit comments during the audit, contact the Biosolids Program Manager at 817-392-4965.

Biosolids Program: Environmental Health & Safety

Odor Monitoring

Ideally, biosolids will smell somewhat musty or have an “earthy” smell. Sometimes the material will produce other types of odors, including an ammonia-like smell. Odors usually dissipate, depending on wind and weather conditions, and especially if biosolids are worked into the soil.

During land application, City of Fort Worth personnel inspect the site for odors. In July 2013, Village Creek added an olfactometer to the biosolids program in order to assess odors at the land application sites. This instrument allows for quantification of odors using different odor-filter cartridges. Using the olfactometer in conjunction with a weather tracker allows for a more detailed odor-monitoring history to be established for the different land application sites. It also allows us to quantify odors when investigating odor complaints.

Citizens can now submit a complaint by emailing biosolids@fortworthtexas.gov if they are experiencing odor issues in their area due to land application activities. Details on what to include in the complaint can be found on this page under “Submit a Biosolids Complaint.”

Stormwater Runoff and Buffer Zones

Our biosolids contractor makes sure that biosolids are applied uniformly on the farm and ranch lands to prevent runoff and protect surface water. In addition, under TCEQ Rule 312.44 biosolids may not be applied during “rainstorms or during periods in which surface soils are water saturated.” During inclement weather, biosolids are stored at the dewatering facility or at the wet weather pads.

The City of Fort Worth produces TCEQ Class AB biosolids. The biosolids contractor utilizes buffer zones to protect surface water and minimize odors and in accordance with TCEQ requirements. These buffer zones include a 750-foot buffer zone from any occupied residential structure and a 50-foot buffer zone from property boundaries and public rights-of-way.

If the land application site has surface water, the contractor establishes at least a 33-foot buffer from surface water if the biosolids are incorporated, or a buffer zone of at least 200 feet from surface water if unincorporated.

Source: Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

Nutrients & Agronomic Loading Rate

Recycling biosolids through land application allows valuable nutrients to be returned to the soil. The nutrients in biosolids are not as soluble as those in chemical fertilizers and are therefore released more slowly. Conditions for vegetative growth are enhanced as a result. Because our biosolids are about 18 percent to 20 percent solid after the addition of lime, the rest is water content that is also returned to the soil, which is helpful during periods of drought.

The agronomic loading rate for biosolids application is a rate that is designed to provide the amount of nitrogen needed by a crop or vegetation to attain a desired yield while minimizing the amount of nitrogen that will pass below the root zone of the crop or vegetation to the ground water. Regulations require that biosolids be applied at rates that do not supply more than the agronomic nitrogen rate for the specific crop. Biosolids are applied by our contractor well below the agronomic loading rate. Sources: Biosolids Technology Fact Sheet and EPA Part 503 Biosolids Rule.

Food Crop Safety

The long-term practice of recycling biosolids has been subjected to more than 30 years of intensive study. Research and use in the field have consistently demonstrated the safety of the biosolids recycling program. As a result, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Food and Drug Administration, and the EPA issued a joint policy statement in 1981 that endorsed the use of biosolids on land for producing fruits and vegetables. Then, in 1984, EPA issued a policy statement in the Federal Register that encouraged and endorsed the recycling of biosolids. In 1991, EPA was a co-endorser of an Interagency Policy placed in the Federal Register regarding the benefits of using biosolids.