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October 18, 2007

UW-initiated biosolids project wins national clean water award

The idea of using biosolids from King County to grow canola, the seeds of which can be refined into biodiesel, has won UW researchers a first-place National Clean Water Recognition Award, presented Monday in Washington, D.C.

Initiated by Sally Brown, research associate professor of forest resources, the idea was to use some of the nearly 115,000 tons of biosolids produced annually in King County treatment plants to fertilize canola in the Yakima area. Ted Durfey, of Natural Selection Farms in Sunnyside, Wash., was a partner in the research. (Biosolids are the solid organic matter recovered from municipal wastewater treatment that is often used as a fertilizer.)

The biofuel produced from the crop was to be used to fuel Metro Transit buses, and Metro took delivery of the first shipment in April. Metro Transit officials say they expect to have 2 million gallons of homegrown biodiesel annually, enough to help power buses for nearly a year.

Chuck Henry, senior lecturer at UW Bothell and a composting expert involved with the project, accepted the award. The Clean Water Act Recognition Awards program, sponsored by EPA’s Office of Wastewater Management, recognizes advances in waste treatment and pollution abatement programs. The program gave out 15 first-place awards in categories ranging from outstanding operations and maintenance to storm water management.

The UW award was in the category for exemplary biosolids management, research and innovation.