EQ Biosolids: A Sustainable Soil Amendment



Athletic Fields Topdress athletic fields and other turfgrass areas.

Topsoil Blending Blend 25-50 percent uniformly with topsoil and spread as needed for establishing turfgrass and landscaping.

Benefits Include: 

Increased infiltration and water holding capacity
Longer retention of nutrients for better uptake by plants
Improved topsoil structure and porosity for a better plant root environment


A minimum 10 cubic yard delivery available.
Limited topdress spreading for 4 acres turfgrass or more available. Inquire at biosolids@mwrd.org.

EQ Biosolids Order Form


EQ Biosolids are a product of wastewater treatment that supplies organic matter and improves the structure and porosity of soils, which allows plants to more effectively utilize nutrients. Air-dried biosolids can be used as a soil amendment or conditioner for establishing turfgrass and for mixing into custom topsoil blends.

EQ Biosolids look and feel like dark, fine-textured topsoil. They can be used on turfgrass at golf courses, athletic fields, parks and other recreational areas, and for restoration of brownfields and other disturbed lands. Better soil and healthier plants require less maintenance and make for more robust and durable landscaping.

EQ Biosolids meet the USEPA’s 40 CFR Part 503 requirements for exceptional quality (EQ), which are based on comprehensive risk assessments that are protective of human health and the environment. The regulations establish levels of trace metals and pathogens that are based on scenarios of a person coming into contact with biosolids or food grown on land receiving biosolids. These scenarios include children ingesting biosolids, workers breathing dust while applying biosolids, and homeowners using biosolids in their vegetable gardens.

EQ Biosolids Analysis*

Parameter Units Range EPA EQ Metal Limits Parameter Units Range EPA EQ Metal Limits
pH   5.8-6.7   Hg mg/kg 0.69-0.92 17
Dry Matter % 60-73   Ni mg/kg 26-51 420
As mg/kg 6.0-8.0 41 Pb mg/kg 81-120 300
Cd mg/kg 2.0-8.0 39 Se mg/kg <5 100
Cu mg/kg 330-493 1,500 Zn mg/kg 976-1,237 2,800
*EQ Biosolids Safety Data Sheet

The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD) has an exemplary biosolids management program. EQ Biosolids go through an extensive testing regimen to ensure each batch is of the highest quality. The MWRD has been successfully using EQ Biosolids on golf courses and athletic fields at both public parks and schools in the Chicago area for more than 20 years.

State law prohibits the application of EQ Biosolids on snow-covered or frozen ground. Additionally, EQ Biosolids must be applied in a manner that follows recommended application rates when used on agricultural land, and must be applied in a manner that follows best management practices to protect water quality when used on all other land.

Regulatory Development

In 2015, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner signed legislation (Public Act 99-0067) that amended the Illinois Environmental Protection Act to recognize biosolids as a safe, beneficial and renewable resource that should be used locally. This legislative amendment also allows composted biosolids to be available to the public.

EQ Biosolids were used to help transform the roof of an underground parking garage into Maggie Daley Park, a lushly landscaped park and playground in downtown Chicago. The landscape contractor used EQ Biosolids in a blend to make nearly 12,000 cubic yards of custom topsoil. The grass and landscaping is flourishing in spite of heavy use and the park is a popular destination for residents and tourists.

EQ Biosolids were used for landscaping on Chicago’s acclaimed 606 Trail, a linear park built on a former elevated rail line. The landscaping contractor blended EQ Biosolids with sand for the project to create a rich soil that supports a variety of plants, bushes and trees along the 2.9-mile-trail.

Click here to view Biosolids Data and Reports.

Additional information about the MWRD’s biosolids EMS certification can be found here.

Biosolids in the News

  document August 9, 2018 MWRD seeks applicants for Sustainable Landscaping and Biosolids User awards
  document July 2, 2018 Field Day highlights MWRD agricultural work in nutrient reduction
  document June 1, 2018 Infrastructure Week open house tours offer free compost, tree giveaways
  document March 5, 2018 MWRD to share stormwater management tips, showcase exceptional quality compost during Chicago Flower and Garden Show at Navy Pier March 14 - 18
  document November 16, 2017 MWRD’s 5th Annual Sustainability Summit honors compost users, sustainable landscaping best management practices
  document September 1, 2017 Mega plants sprout from MWRD biosolids at Franklin Park garden
  document August 31, 2017 MWRD biosolids compost help energize Ford Heights field of dreams
  document July 19, 2017 New program! The MWRD is selling compost and accepting bulk yard waste to promote resource recovery
  document January 25, 2017 Evolving From Controlled Biosolids Distribution To Revenue-Generating Compost, Water Innovations
  document October 14, 2016 MWRD's 4th Annual Sustainability Summit honors green landscaping, biosolids users
  document October 11, 2016 Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago recognized as "Utility of the Future"
  document August 15, 2016 Name that biosolid: The MWRD extends naming contest to public to include school participation
  document August 5, 2016 MWRD seeks applicants for Sustainable Landscaping and Biosolids User awards
  document February 26, 2016 MWRD soil scientists’ biosolids paper earns IWEA acclaim
  document February 16, 2016 Biosolids nutrient management workshop begins work to develop best management practices, confront phosphorus loss from agricultural land
  document August 5, 2015 Governor Rauner, General Assembly improve public access to locally produced soil enhancer