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Biosolids Management Program

What are Biosolids?
...solid organic matter recovered from the sewage treatment process and used especially as fertilizer.

—Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary

New York City produces approximately 1,200 tons of biosolids every day.  In 1988, ocean disposal of bioslids was banned by the federal government and New York City was required to find alternative uses for this material.  Recognizing the value of biosolids, the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) implemented a program to beneficially use most of the biosolids to fertilize crops and improve soil conditions for plant growth.

Biosolids Facts

  • Biosolids and products derived from biosolids are valuable resources, rich in nutrients essential to plant growth and energy generation.

  • Based on scientific research by the EPA, biosolids are safe when used according to regulations.

  • The use of biosolids products reduces agricultural use of chemical fertilizers.

  • Application of biosolids increases soil productivity by improving soil texture, stimulating root growth and increasing water-holding capacity.

  • Plants grown in soils where biosolids have been applied are more resistant to disease and drought conditions.

How are New York City’s Biosolids Prepared for Beneficial Use?

New York City’s biosolids are managed by companies that have been awarded long-term and short-term contracts. Through the following processes these companies can either land apply biosolids through landfill disposal or convert them into products such as compost and liming agents:

  • Landfill Disposal: Biosolids are disposed of in landfill in PA, VA, and NY (Suffolk).

  • Lime Stabilization: Biosolids are mixed with a highly alkaline material, such as lime or Portland cement. This process results in a product which resembles soil and is used as an agricultural liming agent. New York City’s biosolids are limed stabilized at a facility in Pennsylvania and Colorado. All of these processes destroy disease causing organisms and reduce moisture content, resulting in products that are easy to handle and have characteristics similar to many agricultural products.

Industry Contacts

More detailed information on biosolids is also available from:

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Office of Wastewater Management (4204M)
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20460


Water Environment Federation
601 Wythe Street
Alexandria, Virginia 22314-1994
(800) 666-0206


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