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Regional district reaches third-party agreement for biosolids management

The Regional District of Nanaimo will continue to divert biosolid materials from the landfill as it has for nearly a decade, with a formalized third-party agreement with Vancouver Island University and a Vancouver environmental company.

Previously handled under two separate contracts with VIU and Sylvis Environmental Inc., the 45-page agreement outlines each party’s responsibility to manage biosolids created through the process of wastewater treatment at the Greater Nanaimo Pollution Control Centre and French Creek Pollution Control Centre for a four-year term.

"It's worth the effort, but it was a huge exercise to create that document," said Sean De Pol, RDN manager of wastewater services. "It is a leading example that can now be used by other jurisdictions.”

Under the agreement, the biosolids are transported by the RDN to VIU where they are managed through the university’s forest fertilization program. With Sylvis responsible for providing operational management with the application of the biosolids on VIU land and technical support, VIU can focus primarily on the education and research component of the program.

Biosolids are nutrient-rich materials that contain nitrogen and phosphorus, and can add beneficial properties to soil.

Approximately 4,500 tonnes of biosolids are produced by the RDN control centres each year.

"The soils on the VIU woodlot are very poor in nutrients, and prior to the biosolids program, they would add chemical fertilizers, and the way they would bring them in was through helicopter – a necessary but very expensive process," De Pol said.

Under the new agreement, the cost will be $98.55 per tonne up to 4,000 tonnes per year and $60.57 per tonne over 4,000 tones. Taking the biosolids to the landfill for disposal would otherwise cost the district $115 per tonne.

“It is an extensive process to apply the biosolids to the woodlot and they charge us accordingly,” De Pol said. "Our only other alternative is taking them to the landfill… this agreement essentially frees up the landfill space and allows us to take a beneficial material and remove it out of the waste stream."

For more information, please visit www.rdn.bc.ca

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