Fresno Bee Newsroom Blog

Kern gets bad news: Court stops voter-approved sludge ban

Kern County got bad news Wednesday from a state appeals court in Fresno about its voter-approved Measure E, which outlaws the importation of treated human sewage sludge from other counties.

The Fifth District Court of Appeal sided with a lower court that stopped the measure, saying the county was overstepping its authority. Kern voters approved the measure in a landslide on June 6, 2006, and it has been in court for years.

The decision means the flow of treated human sewage will continue over the Tehachapis from Southern California to Kern County, as it has for many years. The sludge is spread on the ground where animal silage crops are grown. People have complained about flies and odor.

It also might mean that Kings County won’t get as much sludge. A sanitation district representing many Southern California cities bought land in Kings and is set to begin biosolid composting soon.

Meanwhile, Kern authorities said they are weighing their options at this point, but had no further comment. Among the options would be an appeal to the state Supreme Court.

Southern California leaders and some Kern land owners had filed the legal action for the preliminary injunction against Measure E. The plaintiffs include County Sanitation District No. 2 of Los Angeles County and Orange County Sanitation District.


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