An agreement signed six months ago that will utilize about 450 dump truck loads of biosolids annually from liquid waste treatment plants in Nanaimo and French Creek has been recognized with an award.
The three-way contract between the Regional District of Nanaimo, Vancouver Island University and SYLVIS Environmental allows all biosolids from the RDN to be trucked to VIU's 1,700 hectare forest woodlot, where it is used as fertilizer and has already increased tree growth by up to 400 per cent.
The project won the 2013 Excellence in Management of Biosolids Award at a Northwest Biosolids Management Association conference in Chelan, Wash. on Sept. 9. RDN Wastewater Services manager Sean DePol said, based on what he's reviewed, it is the only program of its kind and has been very effective. The VIU woodlot hasn't needed any chemical fertilizer since it started using biosolids.
Biosolids are rich in nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorous that are vital to healthy, productive soil and are commonly used as fertilizer once they are treated.
"Previously there was a point in time when biosolids were taken to the landfill and buried,
so taking up valuable landfill space," DePol said.
"We're fortunate that we have VIU that has an interest in this and has a forestry program."
DePol said accepting the award in front of other district officials from B.C., Washington state and Idaho, along with Paul Lucas of VIU and two representatives from SYLVIS, was an honour.
"It was fantastic," he said. "It's nice to be recognized and accepting the award in front of our peers was a pretty neat thing."
Maile Lono-Batura, executive director of the NBMA, called the project "a truly superb program model for others to follow."
Researchers from the university have reported a 50 to 400 per cent increase in tree growth at the woodlot since biosolids started being applied on the soil.
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