Kern County Sludge Initiative Measure E (2006)
Kern County Measure E appeared on the June 6, 2006 ballot in Kern County. It was approved with a landslide of 85,011 votes in favor to 17,117 votes against, or 83.24% to 16.76%. It is sometimes called "the anti-sludge ordinance", since it bans the importation into Kern County of sludge (sewage) from other counties.
The background to the passage of the initiative is that Kern County residents came to resent the fact that for ten years, southern California water treatment agencies had been trucking treated human sewage to Kern County and dumping it on Kern County farm fields.
The ballot question read, "Shall the ordinance prohibiting the land application of biosolids in the unincorporated area of Kern County be adopted?"
Passage of the initiated measure has led to legal costs. Kern County has spent close to $200,000 defending the measure, and in April 2008, county attorneys asked the Kern County Board of Supervisors to set aside another $362,000 to defend the ordinance.
After Measure E passed, the water treatment agencies that had become accustomized to dumping sludge in Kern County sued, and a federal judge ruled that Measure E was unconstitutional. The judge also ordered Kern County to pay $1 million in attorney fees to the agencies.