OSFR biosolids letter to DEP

The following letter was sent from OSFR President Mike Roth.  The deadline is Monday, July 29.  Please send a short email to register your opposition to this harmful and unhealthy practice.

Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
-A river is like a life: once taken, it cannot be brought back-


Our Santa Fe River, Inc. is a not-for-profit 501-(c)(3) organization incorporated in Florida on December 18, 2007. Our organization is composed of concerned citizens working to protect the waters and lands supporting the aquifer, springs and rivers within the watershed of the Santa Fe River by promoting public awareness pertaining to the ecology, quality, and quantity of the waters and lands immediately adjacent to and supporting the Santa Fe River, including its springs and underlying aquifer.

Our Santa Fe River, Inc.
2070 SW CR 138 Fort White, FL 32038
Phone: 386-243-0322

July 22, 2019

Florida Department of Environmental Protection
Att: Kristin Gousse
By email: Kristin.Gousse@dep.state.fl.us
Re: Biosolids application

It is our understanding that the Florida Department of Environmental Protection is in the process of reviewing management practices and potential nutrient impacts related to the land application of biosolids. Insofar as it has been documented that there are severe health ramifications of the spreading of human sewage sludge for at least the last decade, we are happy to hear that the Department is revisiting the related rules.

The process itself is damaging to human health. In-depth interviews with those living near sludge application sites have revealed eye, nose and throat irritations, gastrointestinal symptoms, breathing difficulties and skin infections, among other ailments. Researchers have found statistically higher reports of such symptoms near biosolids permitted fields. These symptoms have been noted after exposure to winds blowing from treated fields. The fact that wastewater treatment plant sludge contains pathogens and antibiotics from sources such as homes, hospitals and industry lead to the development of antibiotic resistant pathogens which are an acknowledged international health crisis.

Taking this a step further, the permits for biosolids applications in or near a wetlands area where filtration into the aquifer is a regular occurring phenomenon set the stage for additional contamination of our rivers, streams and aquifer, and by extension public water supplies. In this regard, protection of the public coupled with the cautionary principle would dictate the banning of the spreading of human sewage sludge.

In addition, the regulation of the process, if still allowed despite its obvious catastrophic potential, would have to be revamped to ensure that the methods and the timing of the physical applications be done subject to specific rules which result in minimum spreading of airborne pathogens and minimum chance of aquifer contamination due to rain events, etc. This would need to be closely monitored by the Department. If strict oversight is not fiscally expedient, then the process should be banned.

We urge you to take this opportunity to meet your mission of protecting the environment and the public to end this crude and dangerous process.

Very truly yours,

Michael J. Roth, President Our Santa Fe River, Inc.

A Florida 501(c)(3) Non-Profit Corporation EIN 42-1756985 FDACS Registration #CH41570

Our Santa Fe River, Inc.


  1. Disposal of waste in areas that can not sustain the discharge is wrong. However, your letter seems to leave the impression that any land disposal of waste is wrong. So, what are the alternatives you are advocating for? It is WRONG for Our Santa Fe River to be against something if they are not proposing alternatives. The fact is that each of us creates about 4.5 lbs of waste per day that need to be somehow “treated”. Septic systems are a form of land application. Need your septic system serviced; well that is going to have to require land application – unless you can get Columbia County to accept this waste at any of its’ facilities. Want a porta potty at a boat ramp? Well if you do, then you save all that waste from being deposited close to the watershed – but are you advocating for the “best practices” disposal option? Unless you are willing to to stop creating waste the best thing Our Santa Fe could be doing is to support responsible disposal options and policy vs. blasting current practices.

    1. Ross – DEP is asking for thoughts on spreading biosolids for agriculture, not alternative treatments to it. That would be the basis for a whole other topic. While septic is technically another form of land application, I don’t believe that is what DEP is asking.

  2. Please protect the waters from the nutrient impacts of these biosolids. Our health and the health of those that follow us depend on it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Back to top
Skip to content