House bill that seeks to improve Florida’s fertilizer and reduce pollution slides along
Kaylee Tuck

HB 1405 discourages the processing of low-quality Class B biosolids.

The term “biosolid” is defined as “a nutrient-rich product” of wastewater treatment facility byproduct, but there are varying degrees of quality.

Legislation heard this week may lead to more wastewater facilities processing this byproduct into what can be used as commercial fertilizer, Class A and AA biosolids.

“Florida’s Clean Waterways Act states that the Legislature finds that it is in the best interest of the state to minimize the migration of nutrients that impair waterbodies,” Lake Placid Republican Rep. Kaylee Tuck said of HB 1405 to the House Water Quality, Supply and Treatment Subcommittee.

“While this act has substantially strengthened permitting requirements for Class B biosolids, it did not specifically provide targeted protections for Florida’s already impaired waterways.”

She referenced studies that conclude using Class B biosolids as fertilizer causes “substantial nutrient pollution problems.”

As such, HB 1405 discourages the processing of low-quality Class B biosolids.

“They are a substantial source of nitrogen and phosphorus that fuels harmful algal blooms in our lakes, rivers and coastal waters,” said Julie Wraithmell, Executive Director of Audubon Florida.

“South Florida has long had a prohibition on land application of Class B biosolids, a prohibition that Audubon worked hard to put in place to protect the greater Everglades ecosystem.”

Class B biosolids have a significant amount of toxic metals and can prove to attract “rodents, flies, mosquitoes, or other organisms capable of transporting infectious agents.”

Specifically, it prohibits the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) from authorizing application site permits for Class B biosolids within the subwatershed of upstream subwatershed of certain impaired waterbodies, unless the applicant can prove it wouldn’t increase the nutrient load in that subwatershed.

DEP would also have to reserve at least 15% of the annual funding for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund for projects that convert this byproduct into Class A or Class AA biosolids within the year funding is received.

Wraithmell expressed concern that DEP doesn’t track applications of Class AA biosolids, of which there could be expected more if the bill becomes law.

The committee unanimously approved the bill, which moves on to the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee.

Wes Wolfe

Wes Wolfe is a reporter who's worked for newspapers across the South, winning press association awards for his work in Georgia and the Carolinas. He lives in Jacksonville and previously covered state politics, environmental issues and courts for the News-Leader in Fernandina Beach. You can reach Wes at [email protected] and @WesWolfeFP. Facebook:


  • tom palmer

    March 23, 2023 at 8:52 am

    The problem is that nitrogen and phosphorus are elements and cannot be destroyed so will still be present however well processed the sludge is.

    • Brian Wheeler

      March 23, 2023 at 10:38 am

      Depends on the specific sludge process. There are some that reduce nutrients and actually recover nitrogen or phosphorus in some cases

Comments are closed.


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