Subj: Fight to Keep Sludge out of Kern Fought on Two Fronts   
Date: 6/20/2005 10:12:31 AM Central Daylight Time

Local: Fight to Keep Sludge out of Kern Fought on Two Fronts

Posted: Sunday June 19th, 2005, 7:58 PM
Last Updated: Sunday June 19th, 2005, 7:58 PM

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Kern County is about to get tough with agencies that truck treated sewage sludge here,
and local voters are part of the strategy. A new web-site that would encourage a local
initiative to ban importation of sludge is already partially up and running.
State Senator Dean Florez (D-Shafter) has a bill now working its way through the
Legislature. If sludge importers don't drop opposition to the bill, Florez vows to work on a
sludge-ban initiative that could go to Kern County voters in June 2006.

You can already log on to a web-site that would support the local initiative. An animated "Mr. Sludge" is seen with suitcase in hand, being
"sent packing."

Local voters tell 29 Eyewitness News they're ready to take action. Bakersfield resident
Sandy Reyes says she's vote for a measure like that. "Definately, we don't want it. I'll
definately vote, and I'll get more people to vote on it."

Bakersfield resident Wanda Pelkey says she's also vote for a ban on importing sludge. "I
don't want any more unnecessary things going on in our environment."

Agencies like the City and County of Los Angeles now truck tons of treated human and
industrial sewage sludge to Kern County, where it's applied to land which those
governments own.

Florez says nearly one-third of the state's sludge comes to Kern County. The County
Planning Department told 29 Eyewitness News more than 451-thousand tons of "wet"
sludge were applied in Kern County in 2004.

The bill now under consideration in the Legislature would allow Kern County to ban
importation of sludge. SB-926 reads in part, "The Legislature finds and delcares that this
act, which is applicable only to Kern County, is necessary because of the unique and
special problems associated with the importation of sewage sludge into that county."

The bill would allow county supervisors to adopt a local ordinance that would regulate or
ban importation of sludge from another California county. If that ban is enacted, current
contracts would be exempt from the ban -- though "...the exemption would not apply to any
renewal of a contractual obligation..."

Florez hopes to convince L.A. City and County offiicals to drop their opposition to the bill,
he insists any voter-approved rule would be even tougher.

Florez staffers also say sludge importers would have a tougher time launching successful
legal challenges to a ban, if it's been voted on by local residents.

The Los Angeles officials, Kern County officials, and local farm- and water representatives
meet with Florez Monday afternoon in Sacramento. Florez insists, the outcome of that
meeting will determine if the sludge-match goes to local voters.

Bakersfield resident Mike Haddon sounds ready to support a ban. "How did we end up
getting one-third of all California's sludge?" he asks. "That's just not right, no matter where
you live -- people should be able to understand that."