As the Legislature considers L.D. 1911, much has been written recently about PFAS in sludge, or biosolids, used as a fertilizer.

As an engineer who spent his career on water infrastructure, a former superintendent of wastewater for the Portland Water District and the owner of a home in Unity whose well water was contaminated by PFAS, I can see many sides of the issue. It is true that clean manure is good for soil, and that perhaps some clean industrial and municipal sludge can be clean enough to be effectively used. But it is also true that there may be materials in the sludge that are not good for our soils, plants or people.

Thirty years ago, we were unaware of PFAS in biosolids or its toxicity. Today, we know that it can be toxic and can be a problem. Our land and water may be impacted as a result.

It is also clear that what we know now may not be what we need to know in the future. What other chemicals or toxic materials may yet to be discovered in municipal biosolids? How can we be certain that the material we are putting on our precious agricultural land will not adversely affect the environment? How can we safely practice biosolids management for the benefit of all?

These are not simple or easy questions, but they must be answered.

Douglas Miller

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