A California appeals court has upheld a lower court ruling allowing the recycling of biosolids in agricultural applications in Kern County.

The ruling supported a preliminary injunction against a county measure passed by voters designed to ban in unincorporated areas of the county the use of agricultural fertilizer made from recycled municipal sewage sludge, or biosolids. The Fifth Appellate District for California supported the city of Los Angeles and other plaintiffs in upholding a Superior Court judgment, according to the court opinion.

The appeals court agreed with the plaintiffs that the ballot measure is pre-empted by the California Integrated Waste Management Act and it conflicts with a state constitutional principle known as the regional welfare doctrine, because it damages Southern California communities that rely on recycling biosolids to farmland, added Jimmy Slaughter, counsel for Los Angeles with the firm of Washington-based Beveridge & Diamond P.C., in an e-mail.

The Water Environment Federation (WEF) supported the ruling. “WEF and its members spend significant time and resources to educate the public and local decision makers regarding the current science on the benefits of recycling biosolids to farmland,” said Amanda Waters, general counsel for the WEF, in a statement. “The opinion provides significant precedent in this regard.”