We are at war.
Subj: Sunday Editorial-Californian - SENATOR FLOREZ LEADS KERN COUNTY BATTLE
AGAINST THE SLUDGE BULLIES
Date: 6/23/2005 10:37:35 AM Central Daylight Time
Sent from the Internet (Details)
In Southern California, as in other states -- the sludge bullies in the waste industry and state
and federal "regulatory" agencies are forcing toxic/pathogenic sewage sludge "biosolids"
from urban and industrial sources on unwilling rural communities . . . . . . .
Sent: Thursday, June 23, 2005 9:57 AM
Subject: Sunday Editorial-Californian
Take your sludge and shovel it!
We are at war. And it's going to be a stinking mess. That's because the
"war" is over the stinking mess Los Angeles and other Southern California
sanitation districts are smearing onto Kern County farm land.
Southern California folks call it "biosolids" and claim its use as
"fertilizer" will improve crop production.
It's also called "sludge." It's the oozing leftovers from Southland sewage
treatment plants and human and industrial waste that used to be dumped into
the ocean until the federal government ordered districts to stop.
Why? Because sludge is bad for the fish. It kills marine life. But,
Southland sanitation officials want us to believe it's safe when smeared
onto our back yards. Don't worry about it being piled high over our
drinking water. Bad for fish, but OK for country bumpkins.
That's not how state Sen. Dean Florez, D-Shafter, sees it. It's not how
most local elected officials see it as they respond to their constituents'
growing outrage. It's not how local water officials see it as they fear for
the safety of our water supplies.
And local growers are concerned by food processors' warnings: If vegetables
are grown on sludge-smeared land, they will not be purchased as ingredients
The Board of Supervisors tried to phase in a ban on sludge being trucked to
Kern County and smeared onto farm land. But a lawsuit blocked the move and
a recent a court ruling required the preparation of an environmental impact
report before a ban could be imposed. Strangely the initial decision to
truck polluting sludge to Kern County did not receive such scrutiny.
Florez intervened by introducing Senate Bill 926 to ban hauling sludge into
Kern County. The bill passed the Senate, but its fate in the Assembly is
uncertain. And before it becomes law, it must be signed by the governor.
That allows the powerful Southland sanitation districts to flex their
muscles. Do the math. There are more folks flushing toilets in Southern
California than in Kern County, where hundreds of thousand of tons of
Southland poop is shipped each year.
Those voting toilet flushers don't want to pay higher sewer rates for
treating and disposing of their waste in their own back yards. Kern County
is the cheap, easy solution to Southern California's sewage disposal needs.
Southland lawmakers will want to keep it that way.
Last week, Florez and Kern County water officials tried to reason with Los
Angeles County officials. But they vowed to oppose Florezs bill.
"Los Angeles stonewalled us," said Gene Lundquist, a Kern County Water
Agency board member and part of a large Kern delegation at the meeting.
That's when Florez declared "war." While he hasn't abandoned hope for his
bill, he knows its odds are slim. Instead of waiting and seeing, he is
arming himself with a June 2006 local ballot measure and is enlisting Kern
County residents into his army.
"I'm going to ask the voters to pass a county ordinance to ban the
application of sewage sludge on Kern County land," Florez told The
Californian. "It's harder for a judge to overturn the will of the people as
expressed through the ballot. As an initiative, there is no requirement for
an environmental impact report if passed.
"We'd also save the county from the currently required EIR from the last
court case." said Florez, predicting a voter-approved ban could save Kern
County at least $800,000. "Since the practice would be outlawed, we could
ban it immediately once it passes on the ballot."
Florez, who plans to formally "declare war" on the July 4th weekend,
explained, "We will proclaim our independence from polluting Southern
California and Los Angeles."
While a campaign for a "poop-free" Kern County may not have that
Independence Day ring embraced by our Founding Fathers, for a people who
have been dumped on by Southern California for years it resonates.
There will be bumper stickers, like the one above this column. Already
there is an Internet site (www.keepkernclean.com) And check out the Opinion
sections FIRED UP! blog (http://bakersfield.typepad.com/fired_up/) to read
what your neighbors are saying.
"I plan on meeting will local city officials to make sure that we are all
on board," Florez said, explaining 15,000 signatures must be collected by
Dec. 13 to qualify the measure for the June 2006 ballot. "I'm going to need
the help of all local government officials to collect signatures and get
the word out. This is about Kern County coming together and speaking with
Southern California: Take your sludge and shovel it.
Sunday, June 26, 2005 Column by Dianne Hardisty