Environmental Management System and NBP Certification
Environmental Management System (EMS)
The Environmental Management System (EMS) is a management system outlined and designed for biosolids programs by the National Biosolids Partnership (NBP). The NBP provides EMS outlines and guidelines using biosolids best management practices.
Agencies across the United States are encouraged to participate in this program to help protect and enhance the environment.
National Biosolids Partnership (NBP)
The National Biosolids Partnership is a voluntary partnership between the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) and Water Environment Federation (WEF) with advisory support from the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA). The Partnership is committed to developing and advancing environmentally sound and sustainable biosolids best management practices through comprehensive management systems. The NBP supports excellence in biosolids management practices, augments regulatory compliance obligations, evaluates environmental performance, and provides meaningful opportunities for public participation.
City of Fort Worth’s Path to NBP Certification
In 2000, the City of Fort Worth (Village Creek Water Reclamation Facility) became one of the original twenty-one agencies across the United States to voluntarily participate as a demonstration agency in the National Biosolids Partnership (NBP) Environmental Management System (EMS) for biosolids programs.
Fort Worth made a commitment to the NBP to develop, implement and maintain an EMS for the Fort Worth Biosolids Program. In establishing a biosolids EMS, Fort Worth’s expectations were to continue advancing to the “next level” in biosolids performance and management. This would involve improving overall environmental performance, providing greater opportunities for public comment/involvement, and enhancing communication between divisions, employees, contractors and the public.
On July 20, 2005, the City of Fort Worth’s Village Creek Water Reclamation Facility became the seventh agency in the United States and first agency in Texas to obtain National Biosolids Partnership (NBP) EMS certification.
To obtain this biosolids EMS certification, the Fort Worth Biosolids Program underwent a thorough evaluation and audit of their EMS practices and processes. The EMS audit was conducted by both internal auditors and “EMS certified” third party auditors. One year later (July 2006), the Fort Worth Biosolids EMS Program successfully underwent internal and external audits and met requirements to maintain EMS certification and obtained the “EMS - Tier 4 Platinum Certification,” which represents “the highest achievement in biosolids management and environmental stewardship” recognized by the Water Environment Federation (WEF), National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA), and the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Since EMS certification was obtained, the biosolids EMS continues to be audited on an annual basis to maintain EMS certification.
Environmental Management System - Benefits
The Village Creek Water Reclamation Facility has realized a number of benefits from developing and implementing a Biosolids EMS. The benefits include:
- Proactive Management Practices
Village Creek makes good use of corrective action notices by being proactive in implementing formal corrective and preventative action plans to address nonconformances identified during routine operations, monitoring, and measurement.
- Opportunities for Continual Improvement
With annual audits and feedback from public parties, we are able to implement changes that we feel will contribute to and enhance the EMS’ framework which ultimately increases our environmental performance.
- Reduced Legal Risk
By following our EMS, we help keep our Biosolids Value Chain in check. This is the sequence of events from Pretreatment to Land Application that ensure our biosolids meet regulatory requirements as well as maintain quality. Actively following and maintain our EMS aids in avoiding fines or regulatory complications over time.
Village Creek Water Reclamation Facility, other Water divisions and our contractor spent numerous hours accomplishing the development and update of relevant standard operating procedures (SOPs) throughout the biosolids value chain. Developing and writing the SOPs “in-house” nurtured the sense of employee awareness for the EMS and fostered the feeling of “making a contribution” to the EMS process and indirectly “improving the environment”. Documents and SOPs are filed in a central location at each division. The documentation of procedures has greatly improved operational efforts for both the contractor and the city.
- Improved Communications
Another benefit of the biosolids EMS implementation was the opportunity for each of the divisions in the Water Department, our contractor and other city departments (Internal Audit, Legal, etc.) to learn more and understand better how biosolids processing, activities and operations interact with a number of groups. This awareness resulted in better, more effective communication between all groups and was a morale booster, which directly and indirectly supports biosolids best management practices and biosolids quality.
- Annual Goals and Objectives
Each year a formal set of goals and objectives are established for the biosolids program. A clear outline of annual goals and objectives has helped the biosolids program focus on, plan and improve current and future (continual improvement) operations and issues. These goals and objectives are updated quarterly to track progress and add new goals as new projects are developed.
The EMS process has helped Village Creek Water Reclamation Facility put a greater emphasis on training and documentation of training activities. Training classes have been revised and new classes added. Questionnaires/tests have been implemented at the end of training sessions to reflect retention and effectiveness. Employees also receive training specifically related to our EMS to understand it’s purpose and components.
Public Outreach Efforts with Interested Parties
Website: The city provides copies of biosolids EMS reports as well as copies of the different sections of the EMS manual for the public’s information.
Tours: Interested parties may request a tour of the Village Creek Water Reclamation Facility. The tour includes a presentation on the treatment plant processes, reclaimed water, and biosolids. Following the presentation, visitors will get a walking tour of the plant.
Village Creek Water Reclamation Facility tours are unavailable at this time. Tours will resume when conditions allow.
For more information about the City of Fort Worth Biosolids “Beneficial Reuse/Recycling” Program and the Fort Worth Biosolids EMS program, call or email:
Village Creek Reclamation Facility: 817-392-4960
Biosolids EMS Manager: 817-392-4965
For more information on biosolids in general and about the National Biosolids Partnership (NBP) EMS program, visit the national biosolids website.
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