Handling Biosolids in Niagara

Storage lagoons on Garner Road are used to store digested sludge for the entire Niagara region.

Large storage tanks were constructed in 1999 to minimize the space required for lagoons and to control air emissions.

The site currently hosts ten storage lagoons and three circular, enamel steel tanks for a total capacity of approximately 92,000 m3.

Biosolids in Niagara

Since 1970, biosolids from Niagara Region's wastewater treatment plants have been transported to local farmland as fertilizer.

Tanker trucks transport the biosolids to Ministry of the Environment approved agricultural sites where they are injected approximately 15 to 20 cm into the soil.

Nearly 50 per cent of Niagara Region's total biosolids are dewatered mechanically and converted into a soil amendment product using the patented N-Viro process.

Benefits of biosolids

  • Preserve landfill space and decrease haulage cost
  • Enhance tree growth in forests
  • Recover ecosystems at mine reclamation sites
  • More municipal money will go to other services
  • Decrease pressure on farmers by providing less expensive methods of fertilization
  • Promotes healthy crops with its micro-nutrients and trace minerals
  • Helps long term productivity from its rich organic matter
  • Improves soil structure by improving moisture retention, tilth, and workability
  • Decrease amount of fertilizer seeping into streams and groundwater
  • Reduce dependence on petroleum based fertilizers

Biosolids safety

The Water Environment Association of Ontario produced a comprehensive report in 2001 which indicated that in Ontario, the practices show no significant risk to the environment or human health.

It's possible for biosolids to omit a slight odour depending on the type of treatment process used. Much of the odour is caused by compounds containing sulphur and ammonia (both of which are plant nutrients). The odour is no more offensive than cow or pig manure and harmless to surrounding residents.

Biosolids and the environment

Guidelines in Ontario control how and where biosolids can be spread to ensure that ground and surface waters are not contaminated. Biosolids are applied at a rate that allows crops to use nutrients as they become available. This prevents nutrients from entering into ground and surface waters.

Regulations for the land application of biosolids

In Canada, the regulations and guidelines regarding the use of biosolids fall under the provincial government.

Ontario guidelines for the safe use of biosolids on agricultural land are provided by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs and enforced by the Ministry of the Environment. These guidelines address sewage sludge processing and spreading requirements.

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