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Citizens' Group Happy with Sludge Decision

Protect Mill Canyon Watershed

Some residents of Mill Canyon, northeast of Davenport, Washington, are relieved to find their efforts to stop a local farmer from applying sewage sludge to his land have been mostly successful.

Many Mill Canyon residents were worried when they heard the original plans by Rosman Farms to certify a plan to use “bio solids,” produced from municipal sewage sludge as a fertilizer on grain fields.

The original application had asked the Department of Ecology to allow 884 acres to be treated.

Morton Alexander was one of the canyon residents concerned that some of that material could wind up on his or others property, including a certified organic farm there.

“Like we had a big flood in 2014 and it brought down all kinds of mud from the topsoil above. Also as most people who live in this area know, there are windstorms that carry farmland wherever,” Alexander said.

Ecology has signed off on the permit, but for only 157 acres, compared to the original plan of five times that size.

Protect Mill Canyon Watershed Committee member Chrys Ostrander says the change can be credited to personal discussions between committee members and the Rosman Farms landowner, Gary Rosman.

“Gary realized the canyon residents were really quite upset about this potential contamination, right in their proximity, and decided it would be better to retain good neighborly relations with the people in the canyon than to push the issue about disposing of the sludge on areas right next to the canyon,” said Ostrander.

While they are relieved, Ostrander says he hopes that any other communities that face similar threats are inspired by the residents to organize and challenge any plans that might threaten their local environment.