In this paper, we demonstrate that the rheological behavior of pasty sewage sludges, regardless of origin, treatment or composition, follows a Herschel-Bulkley model. The yield stress and solid volume fraction are found to be the only two distinctive rheological characteristics of these materials. By scaling the shear rate and the shear stress with two parameters depending only on the yield stress and the solid fraction, the flow curves of 48 pasty sludges all fall along a unique dimensionless master curve. This result may be used in practice to determine, from simple, independent measurements, the rheological behavior of any pasty sludge: the yield stress can be measured with the help of the, slump test' and the solid concentration determined from the organic and mineral matter contents. The results obtained with this technique are in very good agreement with those obtained by direct rheometry. (C) 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.