Local News

Tuesday, Mar 05 2013 06:20 PM

County to appeal sewage-sludge ruling

BY JAMES BURGER Californian staff writer jburger@bakersfield.com

Kern County will take its battle with the city of Los Angeles over the land application of treated sewage sludge to California's highest court.

Supervisors, in closed-door consultation with County Counsel Theresa Goldner Tuesday, voted unanimously to petition the California Supreme Court to review a ruling by the 5th District Court of Appeal that Kern County was unlikely to win in the case Los Angeles filed against the county's Measure E ban on the land application of "biosolids."

The 5th District denied a Kern County request to overturn a writ of mandate from the Tulare County Superior Court that prevents Kern from enforcing Measure E. The 2006 voter-approved measure prevents the solid waste that remains after the sewage treatment process from being treated and spread as fertilizer on land in unincorporated Kern County.

Los Angeles exports much of its sewage sludge, called "biosolids" after treatment, to the Los Angeles-owned Green Acres farm southwest of Bakersfield.

Goldner said the California Supreme Court will be handed all three of Los Angeles' remaining arguments in the case: that Measure E is trumped by state recycling law, which promotes the use of biosolids; that the city filed its case in a timely manner; and that the county of Kern overstepped its regulatory powers in approving and attempting to enforce Measure E.

If the court rules in Kern County's favor, she said, the six-year legal battle could finally draw to a close with a Kern County victory.

But she acknowledged that there is a possibility the California Supreme Court could hand Kern County a final defeat as well.

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