Sum­mer­side us­ing hu­man waste-based fer­til­izer on green spa­ces

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - GREEN LIVING - BY COLIN MACLEAN

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.

COLIN MACLEAN/JOUR­NAL PI­O­NEER

Biosolid fer­til­izer pro­duced at the City of Sum­mer­side’s waste man­age­ment fa­cil­ity.

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