Kern County slugged by court in latest round of 'sludge' fight with LA

Kern County slugged by court in latest round of 'sludge' fight with LA
This sign is posted on Kern County land that Los Angeles uses to dispose of biosolid waste, also known as sludge. (File photo)

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — California's courts continue to side with Los Angeles in its "sludge" fight with Kern County.

Kern County counsel Mark Nations told Eyewitness News on Wednesday that the 5th District Court of Appeal shot down a reversal of the trial court's decision that Kern County can't legally enforce Measure E, a county ballot measure passed in 2006 that bans LA from trucking up treated human and industrial waste to spread on LA-owned farmland in Kern County.

Measure E has been through a variety of legal hurdles since it got 83 percent approval by Kern County voters. LA and some others, including Orange County, immediately sued to stop it from being implemented.

LA spreads the sludge on the soil and then grows crops used for livestock feed. Nations told Eyewitness News in the past that the EPA is OK with the application, but Kern County does not agree.

"The EPA requirements don't measure everything that's in that stuff," Nations told Eyewitness News in 2011. Local farmers and opponents of sludge-spreading worry about things like pathogens, heavy metals and nitrogen.

LA city officials told Eyewitness News in 2011 that they have no alternative to trucking the sewage to its land in Kern County, called Green Acres Farm.

"The city does not have contingency plans of a scale to fully mitigate the irreparable harm that would result, to both the environment and the city of Los Angeles, from a shut down of Green Acres Farm," LA spokeswoman Cora Jackson-Fossett responded in an email.

Green Acres Farm is over 4,000 acres, and LA, at least two years ago, was putting more than 15,000 tons on sewage a month on the land.

Wednesday, Nations said Kern County will weigh its legal options going forward. The window to appeal the 5th District Court of Appeal ruling closes in March.