Charlotte water is pausing plans to spread sludge on farmland in Rowan County

Update: February 5, 2015

Charlotte Water is withdrawing its plans to spread sludge on some farmland in Rowan County. They say they need more time to look at the sites. There was public outrage over this project from some of the neighbors worried that the sludge would seep into their water supply. They are all on well water.

December 16, 2014

A group of neighbors in Cabarrus and Rowan Counties is protesting plans to take treated sludge from waste water treatment plants and put it on nearby farmland for fertilizer.The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utility Division, CMUD, has applied for the permits in the Gold Hill community. CMUD says some farmers agreed to use the sludge because they see it as cost-effective and productive.

But others living in the area are worried the sludge will not only smell, but also runoff into creeks and get into the groundwater in an area where people get their drinking water from wells.

Luke Riley lives next to one of the potential sludge sites. Riley said, "Some of these farmers will tell you it's good fertilizer. It makes things grow, yeah. Poop makes things grow. That's just the way it is, but there's a problem with that."

Fox 46 asked Barry Gullet, CMUD's Director, about the possibility of PCBs, cancer-causing chemicals, being in the treated sludge. Gullet said even though EPA regulations allow for a small amount of PCBs in the material that is spread as fertilizer, CMUD has much stricter requirements.

Gullet added, "The material that we're land applying is tested, and it meets all the requirements for land application, and in a lot of ways is more environmentally-friendly perhaps than chemical fertilizer, so we believe it's a good, safe process."

CMUD applied for a modification for this particular land area, and the utility expects the permit renewal to happen in the spring. But neighbors have requested a public hearing in front of state regulators to stop the permit process.

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