Biosolids from wastewater treatment facilities that use non-native Phragmites australis ssp. australis may contain propagating parts including rhizomes and seeds. Non-native Phragmites is a Prohibited Control noxious weed, which means that the transport of their propagating parts on public roads is prohibited under the Minnesota Noxious Weed Law (Minnesota Statute 18.82). The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) or a County Agricultural Inspector (CAI) can issue permits for the transport of non-native Phragmites from being introduced to new locations. The MDA or a CAI can include permit conditions to minimize the likelihood of establishment of non-native Phragmites when the biosolids are land applied.

Permit conditions and best management practices

  • When biosolids are transferred from the reed bed site to the land application site, the biosolids should be covered and sealed or otherwise sufficiently determined to be contained by the CAI. Biosolids must be contained so that no non-native Phragmites propagating parts can escape during transport. Transport vehicles must be inspected prior to leaving the reed bed site to ensure that no non-native Phragmites is on the exterior of the vehicles where it could be spread via transport on public roads.
  • Follow Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) guidelines for the minimum distance away from a waterbody that the biosolids can be applied (MN R. 7041.1200, Management Practices and Limitation, Subp. 3, Item B.). Non-native Phragmites grows in wet areas and it is important to prevent the seeds, rhizomes, and stem fragments from reaching wet areas. To the extent possible, fields should be chosen that are not prone to having standing water.
  • Apply the biosolids to a crop field that is or will be tilled and will be treated with herbicides that would kill non-native Phragmites that may begin to grow, such as "Roundup Ready" plantings that will be treated with glyphosate. To the best of the permittee's ability, the land should be maintained in row crops for three years.
  • The permittee will scout the area where the biosolids were applied and surrounding areas for non-native Phragmites. During the year of land application, search monthly until snow cover and, in subsequent year, annually in August for three years after that. Keep records of the dates and findings of the scouting events and keep the records for at least five years. If any non-native Phragmites plants are found growing on the site or adjacent to the land application site, efforts to eradicate populations using approved legal methods should be taken immediately. The MPCA, MDA and/or the CAI should be notified so that future permit issuance can be reevaluated for sites where non-native Phragmites has established due to biosolid application.
  • The permittee will secure permission from the landowner to allow researchers and state agency staff to visit the site to collect data to improve the land application best management practices to prevent the spread of non-native Phragmites.