After local well water tested positive for E. coli, residents in Lehigh County, Pennsylvania are blaming biosolids, applied to a nearby farm for the contamination.
Bill Schaffhouser, who has lived near the farm for six years, is trying to raise awareness among his neighbors about the E. coli contamination, which he believes came from human waste used as fertilizer, according to a report by WFMZ Lehigh Valley News. Residents concerned about the issue attended a Lynn Township meeting this week.
Schaffhouser told WFMZ his concerns began after having a new water system installed. The installer “had tested some water on the back streets over there and came up with E-coli and the gentleman had told us that they were putting this human feces on the fields behind us,” according to Shaffhouser.
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection told WFMZ that the farm had been granted permission to use biosolids called granulite, which is waste recycled into fertilizer pellets. According to the WFMZ report, the farmer confirmed that the granulite contains about 30 percent human feces.
“All our wells are coming up with E. coli. Where else could it be coming from?” said Schaffhouser.
E. coli bacteria can be found in biosolids — as can heavy metals, antimicrobials, and other chemicals — but most E. coli strains do not pose a threat to human health. Waste recycled for land application should be treated to reduce bacteria, but regulation varies on the local level.
The full report and video can be found here.