Clearly, Earle wasn't happy to be exposed for his lack
of scientific knowledge and his connection as a
gatekeeper for the waste industry.

Earle Hartling June 28, 2007 at 03:19 PM

Frankie, Frankie, Frankie,

“When CONFRONTED by a commenter such as Earle
Hartling”???? I’m sorry that you feel so threatened by
anyone with an opinion that differs from you and is bold
enough to express it. Nowhere in my posting did I “attempt
to dissemble and discredit the work of the scientific
community,” I merely presented data developed by my
agency and I called into question some of the conclusions
that you apparently jumped to without any real documented

Furthermore, this discussion should be about the water,
not about me. The “Swiftboating” tactic of going after
someone’s reputation in order to win an argument
contributes nothing to the scientific debate and only serves
to obscure the issues. And, for the record, I am proud to
serve as the Water Recycling Coordinator for the Los
Angeles County Sanitation Districts, I was honored to serve
on the Water Recycling Taskforce in 2002, and I’m
privileged to work in the water recycling industry with
people like Keith Israel from Monterey.

That being said, let me address some of the issues and
statements contained in this thread, starting with Mr.
Cavala’s. The indirect potable recycled water project in
San Diego was far from being conducted in secret. I was
able to follow its progress for years in the mainstream
media from waaaaaay up here in Los Angeles, assertions
of secrecy by Assemblyman Howard Wayne and Senator
Steve Peace, notwithstanding. Their public hearing in
December 1997 could have only been a political ploy, as I
have an extremely hard time believing that state legislators
would have no idea what was going on under their noses in
their home districts.

I was at that public hearing, and Mr. Cavala is incorrect in
at least two of his three assertions. Virus removal was not
deemed “problematical,” rather, the level of removal had
been recalculated by the project designers and lowered
from a 26 log removal to a 24 log removal. If you have any
scientific background, you’ll know this means removal by a
factor of 1 with 24 zeros behind it, instead of 1 with 26
zeros behind it. This removal efficiency is staggeringly
high, and the practical difference between the two
removals is statistically insignificant.

Second, the assertion that “to prevent opposition from a
Republican public the reused water was to be pumped into
the homes of San Diego’s black and brown – not white –
populations” is sickening. This question of “environmental
justice” was raised specifically to inflame passions among
the population and had no basis in fact. The “repurified”
water, as it was called, was to be mixed with the city’s water
supply and served to the entire community, as the water
purveyor couldn’t possibly separate rich areas from poor
ones in the distribution system. A San Diego community
activist, Herman Collins, actively opposed the project
because of this, and later served with me on the Statewide
Water Recycling Task Force. He has since become a
staunch supporter of recycled water, because he found out
after the San Diego project had been cancelled that he
had been LIED to and was used by the project opponents
in regard to the environmental racism issue. The
“misguided” views of the public that Mr. Cavala refers to
are fostered by inaccurate statements and outright
fabrications made by unscrupulous opponents who
generally have another agenda in mind. Those of us in
water recycling welcome honest questions and respect
honest concerns, and we do our best to address both
because we serve the public and have no desire to
adversely impact their health and well-being. If getting the
facts out to the public so they can make an informed
decision is “PR” then maybe we need more PR.

Oh, and by the way, recycled water is generally provided at
a discount to users by public agencies that don’t make a
profit, so we in this industry don’t do it because we’ll
“benefit economically” from it. Rather, it’s the right thing to
do in a water-short region that is probably looking at
permanent drought conditions. The beneficiaries of water
recycling are the parks and schools that remain green for
our kids to play in, industry that can remain in business to
provide jobs and tax revenue for our cities, and the general
population that is less likely to be subject to mandatory
water rationing.

Now I’d like to address a few of the issues I have with your
assertions, Frank (I can’t speak to all of them, since there’s
just too many). In my last posting, I posed a question to you
regarding the LEVEL of treatment of the Minnesota facility.
While you didn’t answer my question, you did give me
enough clues to find out that you were referring to the
Metropolitan Wastewater Treatment Plant in St. Paul. This
facility provides only SECONDARY treatment with
disinfection prior to discharge into the Mississippi River.
But in your postings, you had a problem with the use of
disinfected TERTIARY recycled water on food crops, and
the microbiological quality of the recycled water is a critical
factor in your estimation of its danger. The filtration
process utilized in tertiary treatment greatly enhances the
efficiency of disinfection, and trying to draw comparisons
between secondary and tertiary effluent quality from a
microbiological standpoint is comparing apples and
oranges. Could this be the “mixing and matching pieces of
scientific information” that you criticized in your June 11th

The same comment goes for attempt to link the E. coli
spinach outbreak with recycled water use. That outbreak
was associated with pig feces in a local waterway and no
recycled water was in use at this site. Given the nationwide
impact of that incident and the number of people sickened,
one would think that if such a virulent strain of bacteria was
being deposited on produce via recycled water, as you
seem to infer is going on through the biofilm phenomenon,
we would have seen multiple replays of this outbreak. But
there have been none. Zero. Linking this episode with
recycled water with no direct, or even indirect, connection
is inflammatory and unconscionable. Guilt by association or
innuendo is not a valid scientific principal.

I’d like to address the assertion you made that “despite
advances in sanitation practices in this country, the
number of reported waterborne disease outbreaks has not
decreased in recent years…the number has actually
increased.” This is absolutely shocking, perhaps no more
so than to the folks at the Center for Disease Control,
because according to their website, “The number of
outbreaks has declined over the last 20 years, probably as
a result of actions by the U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency (EPA), water utilities, and public health officials.”
(Panel Summary from the 2000 Emerging Infectious
Diseases Conference in Atlanta, Georgia) Most of the 127
outbreaks from 1990-98 were associated with groundwater
systems that probably didn’t disinfect before distribution.

There’s so much more of your work to critique, but I will
stop at this point, as I need to go and deliver more recycled
Earle didn't expect anyone to see through the
smoke and mirror show

Jim Bynum June 30, 2007 at 07:20 AM

It is always interesting to see one of gatekeepers like
Earle Hartling poke his head up out of the sewer. It is
especially interesting since he is the Water Recycling
Coordinator for the Los Angeles County Sanitation
Districts. As proof that recycling sewage effluent into the
drinking water system is good, he mentions Herman
Collins a community activist who opposed the practice
and then served with Earle on the Statewide Water
Recycling Task Force --- as co-chair of the Public
Information, Education and Outreach Workgroup.

Public records show Herman Collins, a former chief of
staff of retired San Diego City Councilman George
Stevens and head of Collins Strategic Group, a
governmental relations consulting firm, was paid
$365,000 by the Metropolitan Water District to spread the
agency's message and ease access to decision-makers.

Earle said he merely presented data developed by his
agency when he critiqued Franks piece. This is the same
agency that developed the data for sewage sludge
(biosolids) recycling and claims it is safe. Yet the agency's
original 1988 research showed otherwise in two studies:
"Occurrence of Pathogens in Distribution and
Marketing Municipal Sludges" the study said, "Although
the use of sludge as a soil amendment is attractive, it is
not without potential health risks. Toxic chemicals,
including heavy metals and industrial organics, may enter
the food chain and present long-term health risks." "The
plague causing bacteria Yersinia pestis was consistently
found in static pile compost. CDC authorities state,
"Outbreaks in people still occur in rural communities or in
cities." "significant increases in bacterial populations,
including salmonellae, occurred during subsequent
production of commercial soil amendment products." and
"Trace Organics and lnorganics in Distribution and
Marketing Municipal Sludges" the study said, "Efforts to
characterize major unknown organic components were
limited to computer comparisons of GC/MS peaks to the
NBS mass spectral library. In none of the cases was a
tentative identification made. Manual review of those
components with a high degree of fit with an NBS library
compound (>8O%) allowed probable compound class
assignment for many peaks. Virtually all of the major
components classified appeared to be aliphatics or
carboxylic acid type compounds. A majority of the sample
extracts exhibited a hydrocarbon "hump" in the ion
chromatograms. The peaks reviewed, therefore, were
superimposed on this background. As a result, a
significant portion of the major peaks were
multi-component peaks whose identities remain
completely unknown.

The fact is Earle your agency has no real idea what is in
the sewage water you call recycled water or the sewage
sludge called biosolids your agency puts out as a safe
fertilizer in Kern county and soil amendment for home
lawn. So when you say that scientifically, the real level of
virus removal in recycled water had been recalculated by
the project designers to show a 24 log removal rate, I
have to wonder?

Lets see Earle, if a 1 log reduction is 90%, and a 5 log
reduction is a 99.999% reduction in viruses, how do you
measure to the point that you need to add another 19
nines after the decimal point?

Hmm, you cannot culture a virus -- so what is the
mathematical formula? Isn't that what you use with
bacteria -- a mathematical formula -- when your industry
enumerate the
coliform test? Why doesn't your agency be
honest and say this is a quick test for gram-negative
bacteria that doesn't have to be performed in a biosafety
level two laboratory? Why would your agency neglect to
inform the public that ESCHERICHIA COLI, SALMONELLA,
Plague) are gram-negative bacteria illuminated in the
coliform test water and they are all human pathogens.

Isn't that what the
gatekeeper is for, to keep that
information away from the public to prevent worry and
panic? Don't you tell the beach goers that coliform and
entrobacter are not pathogens? Isn't that the information
the politicians are given?

You say recycled water (and sludge-biosolids) is
generally provided by public agencies, which don't make
a profit. The real question is why bother to separate
sewage effluent and sewage sludge in a hundred + million
dollar treatment plant and then claim it is beneficial for the
sewage to be reconstituted on farms, parks and schools
yards, home lawns, etc.?

Your comment on the
Metropolitan Wastewater Treatment
Plant in St. Paul releasing drug resistant bacteria
contaminated sewage effluent into the Mississippi River
was interesting when you compare it to c
California rivers. Then you comment on the Salinas Valley
contaminated spinach outbreak, "That outbreak was
associated with pig feces in a local waterway and no
recycled water was in use at this site." You really should
read the report.

Finally, you called Frank to task for his comment on the
increase in waterborne disease outbreaks and said,
"This is absolutely shocking, perhaps no more so than to
the folks at the Center for Disease Control, because
according to their website, "The number of outbreaks has
declined over the last 20 years, probably as a result of
actions by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
(EPA), water utilities, and public health officials."

Since the
EPA, USDA, FDA and CDC [HHS] policy to use
contaminated sewage effluents on food crops was put in
effect in the
80s there has been a dramatic increase in
outbreaks that have been tossed into the foodborne

1986 there were one to two million cases of food
poisoning (Gerba) (EPA Risk Assessment for landfilling
1990 there were about 6 million case of food poisoning
1994 there were about 33 million cases of food poisoning
9,000 deaths
EPA-USDA- CDC-Report to President -From
Farm to Table (1997)
1996 there were about 80 million case of food poisoning
(Ralph J. Touche-Chief Sanitarian -Public Health Service
1997 there we about 81 million case of food poisoning
1998 CDC estimates 360 million cases of acute diarrhea,
Most from unknown source of exposure.(1987 estimate)
9,100 deaths annually.
(Mead, (CDC) estimates there are only about
76 million foodborne cases annually, 325,000 Hospitalized
and 5,000 deaths. CDC still uses these figures = 6.3
million illnesses per month, 27,000 people hospitalized
each month, 416 dead each month.

It is clear that our health has been placed in the hands of
the waste industry who can not do their job under the
Clean Water Act, so there is a perceived need by the
industry to put it on land exempt from the environmental
                    LA Sanitation Districts' Gatekeeper

When scientists and researchers get to close to the truth concerning the lack of science behind the wastewater
industry's promotion of reclaimed sewage effluent for irrigation and drinking water reuse as well as sewage sludge reuse
as biosolids, the
gatekeepers rise up out of the sewer and try to discredit the truth and the messenger. Below is a case
in point.

California Progress Report

June 20, 2007. 5 comments. Topic: Food Safety

Beware of the Recycled Water Industry on Water Safety and E. Coli in California

By Frank Pecarich
Retired Soil Scientist

When I am confronted by a commenter such as Earle Hartling on my last article, “
The California Push For Recycled
Water is Complete With Pathogens Like E. coli”, who seems not to be aware of the current scientific literature and
attempts to dissemble and discredit the work of the scientific community, I try to find out about the poster’s background. I
did this with Earle.