CONVENTIONAL SEWAGE TREATMENT PLANTS
The only sewage digestion process producing a guaranteed pathogen-free sludge is batch thermophilic digestion in which all of the sludge is maintained at 50°C (122°F) for 13 days. Other sewage digestion processes will allow the survival of worm eggs and possibly pathogenic bacteria. Typical sewage treatment plants instead use a continuous process where wastewater is added daily or more frequently, thereby guaranteeing the survival of pathogens (see Figure 7.3).
I took an interest in my local wastewater treatment plant when I discovered that the water in our local creek below the wastewater discharge point had ten times the level of nitrates that unpolluted water has, and three times the level of nitrates acceptable for drinking water.33 In other words, the water being discharged from the water treatment plant was polluted. We knew the pollution included high levels of nitrates, although we didn't test for pathogens or chlorine levels. Despite the pollution, the nitrate levels were within legal limits for wastewater discharges.
Source: The Humanure Handbook. Jenkins Publishing, PO Box 607, Grove City, PA 16127. To order, phone: 1-800-639-4099.