Atwater: Let consumer make choice
© Kirk Starratt
Kings County councillor Wayne Atwater wants farmers who choose not to use bio-solids on their land to be able to post signs letting consumers know.
BY KIRK STARRATT
Kings County Advertiser/Register
Let the consumers know, and let them make the choice.
That’s the intent behind an initiative of Kings County councillor Wayne Atwater, who wants farmers in the municipality who choose not to use bio-solids (treated human sewage sludge) on their land to be able to post signs letting people know.
At the June 15 committee of the whole (COTW) session, Atwater said there is some merit in allowing county farmers post such signage. Farmers using bio-solids are not necessarily proud to advertise the fact, but those who choose not to probably would be.
“I’m proud of the ones who choose not to use bio-solids,” he said.
Atwater would like to see a letter sent to the Kings County Federation of Agriculture on the matter, and pointed out to his colleagues council had unanimously supported sending a letter to the provincial minister of agriculture requesting a ban on the transport and land application of bio-solids in the municipality.
“I don’t want farmers being penalized for putting up a sign,” he said, drawing attention to the county’s signage regulations.
Deputy Warden Diana Brothers said it seems like a good idea and suggested it be added to the next COTW agenda for discussion. Atwater moved to refer the item to staff for the time being. The motion carried.
Earlier in the COTW session, engineering and public works manager Scott Quinn presented a review of municipal bio-solids management practices, as council requested in February.
Quinn said staff visited the N-Viro bio-solids facility in the Aerotech Business Park near Stanfield International Airport and was given a presentation on the operation, which was provided to council. N-Viro Systems has extended an invitation to council to tour its facility. Quinn said, currently, most of its raw bio-solids are still coming from the Halifax Regional Municipality, but there are other sources.
In regard to Kings County, regional and Greenwood sewage treatment plants have weekly sludge and solids removal. The municipality currently has a three-year service agreement with Loomers, renewed in 2009, to remove, transport and treat the raw sludge. The raw solids are taken to a facility in Annapolis County, stabilized and land applied. The Avonport sewage treatment plant, in general, has a monthly sludge and solids removal, disposed of at the municipally owned Waterville septage facility.
Other plants undergo periodic sludge removal, with excess sludge being stored in onsite lagoons. Quinn said the recommended practice is to de-sludge lagoons every five to seven years.
Quinn said staff considers the current management practices as a short-term solution, perhaps not compatible with future regulations and Integrated Community Sustainability Plan goals. He said funds in the 2010/ 2011 capital budget call for a design study for an engineered wetlands-based system to treat bio-solids. Other complementary technologies, including geo-tubes, would be investigated.
Current hauling and disposal contracts are expected to cost up to $150,000 per year. As an example, the cost to de-sludge one lagoon at the Canning sewage treatment plant, with on-site disposal, is about $62,000. The municipality operates roughly the equivalent of 37 Canning lagoons. Excluding the regional sewage treatment plant, where 25 of the lagoons are located, there should be one or two lagoons de-sludged each year.
Quinn’s report to council states, if regulations change to prohibit use of the on-site storage lagoons, costs will likely double.
Councillor Basil Hall said it’s nice to be able to ship sludge to another county but, if we don’t want sludge from Halifax coming here, Annapolis County probably doesn’t want Kings’ sludge.
In regard to a question from councillor Dick Killam about burning sludge for energy, Quinn said that and various other technologies should be looked at. There is a facility in Sheffield Mills exploring energy production using materials such as sewage sludge.
Councillor Dale Lloyd made a motion to have councillors tour the N-Viro plant. The motion carried.