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Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago

Exceptional Quality (EQ) Compost is a sustainable soil amendment that benefits the environment and helps landscaping thrive in the Chicago region. The MWRD co-composts wood chips from municipal tree trimming and landscapers with biosolids, a product of the wastewater treatment process. The composting process raises the temperature of the mixture, which destroys bacteria and ensures the product meets the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) highest standards for biosolids products. 

NOTE: Residential compost distribution is on hold in 2024.  

EQ Compost improves soil structure

EQ Compost can be blended with topsoil and potting soil for establishing plants or used as a mulch around already established plants. EQ Compost supplies organic matter and improves soils to allow plants to more effectively utilize nutrients. 

Biosolids have been used to improve soil quality at popular destinations like Maggie Daley Park, the 606 Trail and on golf courses and athletic fields at both public parks and schools in the Chicago area for more than 20 years.

 

 

EQ Compost analysis

Every batch of EQ Compost is tested to confirm it meets US EPA standards for quality. 

Parameter

Units

Range

EPA EQ Metal Limit

Parameter

Units

Range

EPA EQ Metal Limit

pH

 

6.5-7.6

 

Hg

mg/kg

0.34-0.63

17

Dry Matter

%

43-51

 

Ni

mg/kg

21-43

420

As

mg/kg

<5

41

Pb

mg/kg

40-51

300

Cd

mg/kg

1.0-2.0

39

Se

mg/kg

<5

100

Cu

mg/kg

187-401

1,500

Zn

mg/kg

326-645

2,800

Is EQ Compost safe to use in vegetable gardens?

  • Our biosolids are properly treated and meet the EPA’s most stringent standards for use in all garden types.
  • The MWRD’s EQ compost is produced by composting wood chips with biosolids. Federal and state regulations designate EQ biosolids as a nutrient source and soil amendment that can be applied to land without restrictions for growing plants. Biosolids are rich in both organic matter and essential plant nutrients and are used throughout the U.S. as fertilizer and soil amendment for growing ornamentals, trees and turfgrass, and crops, including vegetables.
  • EQ Compost meets Exceptional Quality (EQ) criteria, which is the highest quality standards for biosolids established by the EPA. Please see EQ Compost Safety Data SheetEQ Biosolids and the Biosolids and COVID-19 Fact Sheet (Español) for more information.

EQ Compost Guidelines

State law prohibits the application of EQ Compost on snow-covered or frozen ground. Additionally, EQ Compost 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.

Related Information

Biosolids/Compost Windy City Newsletters