Summerside using human waste-based fertilizer on green spaces
The City of Summerside is using biosolid fertilizer on a number of its parks and green spaces this year.
Biosolid is a term used to describe fertilizer or soil additives containing processed human waste.
The city has been testing the use of small amounts of biosolids on “selective” areas for the past two years, but this is the first time it has been used in any significant quantity.
A recent advertisement placed by the city in the Journal Pioneer notified the public the fertilizer would be applied at the Queen Elizabeth Park Legends Field on June 7, the Gordie Field on June 13, the VIV Field on June 19 and at the bantam soccer field on Willow Avenue on June 7.
More applications, including Green’s Shore, are planned for the fall.
The City of Summerside produces a significant quantity of biosolid fertilizer annually as part of its wastewater treatment at the processing facility on MacKenzie Drive. Most of it is sold to customers in the agricultural sector and used as a low-cost soil additive on secondary crops.
The biosolid product the city is using was put through stringent testing by multiple agencies and is suitable for both agricultural and cosmetic uses. In fact, the city has seen noticeable improvements in the green spaces it has been using as testing grounds, said JP Desrosiers, the city’s director of community services.
“Thus far we have received positive feedback from nearby residents that they were made aware of the product application. We are very pleased with the performance of the product thus far on our city green spaces,” said Desrosiers.
The use of biosolids has been controversial in the past in some jurisdictions.
There have been questions raised regarding lingering amounts of pharmaceutical drugs in the material and potential leeching into the environment. There have also been more mundane complaints such as the strong ammonium smell the material can give off.
The city has developed a plan to help mitigate these concerns, said Desrosiers, some of which includes warning the public before it is applied, including direct communication with sports associations before it is used on sports fields.
This is to help ensure there is sufficient time between application and the use of the field. Use will also be limited to directly before forecasted rain events as this helps the material absorb into the soil and eliminate lingering odours.
Despite the bad press they have received in the past, the current scientific knowledge base is that biosolids are quite safe for use and can be quite beneficial to soil, said Gordon Price, an associate professor in the Dalhousie University Faculty of Agriculture.
Price has has been studying biosolids and their impact on the environment for more than 10 years.
“It would be no different than, if instead of spraying this material on those fields they were going to spread a chicken manure, for instance, or a dairy manure. If you do that, are you going to let your kids roll around in it and stick their faces in it? No,” he said.
Biosolid fertilizer produced at the City of Summerside’s waste management facility.