The Sludge Industry

Industry PR Groups

“The 20th century has been characterized by three developments of great political importance: the growth of democracy, the growth of corporate power, and the growth of corporate propaganda as a means of protecting corporate power against democracy.”
     Alex Carey, quoted in "The Public Relations Industry's Secret War on Activists"

The sludge industry and EPA use a phalanx of public relations experts, attorneys, and front organizations to deceive the public about the harmful effects of land applying sewage sludge.

The Water Environment Federation (WEF) is the sewage industry's main lobby and public relations organization. With its $100 million/year budget and large staff, it aggressively promotes the land application of sewage sludge.

WEF was founded in 1928 as the "Federation of Sewage Works Associations." The organization changed its name in 1950 to the "Federation of Sewage and Industrial Wastes Associations." In 1960, it changed its name again to the "Water Pollution Control Federation."

The EPA provides funding to WEF and its affiliate, the Water Environmental Research Foundation (WERF). In fact, WERF is the primary recipient of EPA funding for scientific research on sludge.

WEF invented the public relations term “biosolids” and, with other industry PR groups, like the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA), which represents sewage authorities, and the National Biosolids Partnership (NBP) --  created by WEF, EPA, and NACWA -- worked to get the word into common usage. Their campaign was a success.

The sludge industry’ s campaigns to greenwash sludge continue, with WEF and other sludge PR groups influencing not only what sewage sludge is called but also policy, research, regulations, and litigation. They utilize every trick in their dog-eared PR book.