Not much promise seen in biosolids review

(File photo)

(File photo, Mel Rothenburger)

Published July 18, 2016 in NewsKamloops.com.

By MIKE YOUDS

After rallying support from local governments that want to see biosolids better managed in B.C., a TNRD director said he was disappointed by the Ministry of Environment response to his UBCM resolution.

Randy Murray, director for Lower Nicola (Area M), said it’s a sign that the issue will have to be pursued though other channels, possibly as a political issue during next spring’s provincial election.

Murray said he’s tried every avenue of possibility in an effort to get the provincial government to undertake a comprehensive review of the practice of land application of biosolids but without result.

“It forces you into a position where there’s got to be a grass-roots movement for change,” he said.

That’s what developed in the Nicola Valley after five local First Nations declared a moratorium on land application of biosolids in 2015. A coalition of groups formed to pressure the province to consider the broader implications for health, environment and wildlife. Direct political pressure went all the way to Premier Christy Clark’s constituency office in Kelowna, which the chiefs occupied for a short time. As well, residents in Barnhartvale and Dallas have protested a nearby biosolids mixing operation on the Blackwell dairy farm, where the combine material is used as a soil enhancer.

The province established a comprehensive review of biosolids regulations April 4 and promises a “policy intentions paper” by fall with full public consultations in spring 2017. The scope of the review, however, is narrower than what some groups wanted. First Nations pulled out of the process in April, a protest after they were relegated to observer status.

Citing concerns about the lack of public consultation prior to biosolids application within the Agricultural Land Reserve, Murray’s UBCM resolution called on the government to examine and make changes to the regulatory process. A government response, received June 16 by the TNRD, was “very disappointing,” Murray said.

He described the current process as a “quasi review with a short timeline,” a stop-gap measure.

“I think they’re hoping it will just fade in time for the provincial election.”

He and others in the Nicola Valley want to see the province move towards use of pyrolysis, an industrial process that would ensure safe handling of biosolids, a byproduct of municipal wastewater treatment.

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