By CHRISTIN COYNE
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality took action Tuesday to begin evaluating possible restrictions on using treated and processed sewage as fertilizer because of numerous odor nuisance complaints from populated areas in North Texas.
Responding to a recent outcry by dozens of Parker County residents, Parker County Judge Mark Riley spoke Tuesday at an Austin meeting in favor of the move to consider changing state regulations.
Local officials have been bombarded with complaints over the past three weeks after Renda Environmental Inc., a company contracting with the City of Fort Worth for the removal of wastewater product, began applying treated sewage sludge to pastureland southwest of Springtown.
Residents say their quality of life has been affected by a foul stench, many saying the odor has kept them from going outdoors or made them feel sick. Many are also concerned about possible health and environmental effects, as well.
No permit is required to use Class A biosolids as fertilizer, though the sludge must be treated to reduce flies and other vector attractions and tested to ensure it’s non-hazardous, according to the state.
TCEQ responded to the complaints and has an open investigation but took no action to stop the application of the biosolids in the neighborhood. However, the City of Fort Worth has halted the application of biosolids by their contractor in Parker County after officials in that county were contacted by Riley.
TCEQ has opened enforcement action against Renda Environmental in relation to similar complaints in Wise County last month. Complainants in that case documented the affects of the odor issue, according to a TCEQ representative.
“I believe it is a quality control issue with the product, but it is also a common sense issue,” Riley said. “The company knew there was a problem with the product. TCEQ knew there was a problem with the product when they ordered the company to stop using it in Wise County last month.”