Monday - Friday 8:30 am - 4:00 pm
The new bio-solids composting facility at 4142 Thicke Road is up and running. The plant is now processing bio-solids from Ladysmith’s waste water treatment plant and turning the material into Class A compost.
Bio-solids are nutrient-rich materials that result from the treatment of waste water (sewage). At Ladysmith's Waste Water Treatment Plant, we process waste water from kitchens, bathrooms and laundries. The treatment process removes the solid waste from the waste water, resulting in bio-solids. As part of our Waste Water Treatment System, Ladysmith is required to dispose of these bio-solids. Composting is a beneficial and viable option for the responsible management of bio-solids. Check out our FAQs below.
Every time a resident flushes a toilet, runs a load of laundry or dishes, or empties a sink, everything that goes down the drain ends up going through Ladysmith’s Waste Water Treatment Plant, which provides secondary treatment. There, any non-compostable items are screened out. Then, the remaining waste water is treated and most solids are removed from the influent. The remaining water (known as effluent) is discharged into the Ladysmith Harbour. Under provincial regulations (Organic Matter Recycling Regulation), operators of a Waste Water Treatment Plant are required to safely dispose of the plant’s by-products (the bio-solids). Ladysmith has chosen to compost our own bio-solids.
Composting is currently accepted world-wide as the most effective, responsible and sustainable way to dispose of bio-solids. The process results in a useful new product, effectively and safely returning bio-solids to the land.
Ladysmith had been composting bio-solids from the previous Waste Water Treatment Plant at the Public Works Yard since the 1990s. However, the nature of the bio-solids changed when our new secondary treatment Waste Water Plant came on stream in the summer of 2016. The water being discharged from the plant is cleaner, but the bio-solids smelled stronger than when they were treated in the Primary Treatment facility, and the Public Works location was no longer suitable for a composting operation. This is when the Town purchased land on Thicke Road to build a new, state of the art facility to compost our bio-solids into Class A compost.
We do not mix household compostables in with the bio-solids. The final product of our bio-solids composting is a high-quality top soil amendment (fertilizer) that meets Class A standards and is regularly tested to ensure it is safe to use as a fertilizer.
The design of the new facility includes:
The Town is required to test the bio-solids during the composting process, and to test the finished product to ensure it meets Class A compost standards as defined in the Organic Matter Recycling Regulation.
The acceptable standards and testing requirements are laid out in the Organic Matter Recycling Regulation.
We follow a strict protocol for taking samples. The samples are analyzed by an independent and qualified laboratory. The tests meet internationally accepted standards.
All local governments are responsible for disposing of their own bio-solids. Expansion or offering composting services to neighbouring local governments would be up to Council to decide. If demand from our own community meant that we would need to expand the plant, we would continue to carry out the work indoors, and to employ odour control technology that is appropriate for the size of the operation.
If Ladysmith’s facility had excess capacity to assist another local government with composting, and it made economic sense, it could be something Council might consider.
The whole operation is designed to control odour. The Town has carefully designed an enclosed operation that minimizes the odor when trucks dump the material into the facility (which is done indoors) and throughout the composting process. This includes negative air and other odour control measures.
The facility has been built on concrete, and includes a leachate collection system to prevent runoff. The Town has protocols and procedures to deal with operational issues at the facility, including odour.
Our operation is socially responsible, economically viable, and sustainable.
Ladysmith is legally responsible to dispose of the bio-solids from our new, secondary Waste Water Treatment Plant. Composting is currently accepted world-wide as the most effective, responsible and sustainable way to dispose of bio-solids. The process is sustainable as it results in a Class A topsoil amendment/fertilizer, thus returning our bio-solids back to the ground.
One of the pillars of our Sustainability Vision is ‘innovative infrastructure’. The new facility uses the best technology available for this type of operation. We continue to be leaders in dealing with the bio-solids disposal issue in a responsible and sustainable matter.
Sending our bio-solids to a facility outside our community is not consistent with our Sustainability Vision as it will result in production of more greenhouse gases through transportation.
Finally, composting our own bio-solids ensures that we are self-reliant and need not rely on others for our bio-solids disposal, and will manage our own operations over the long term. You may have heard that Vancouver Island University has recently decided that it will no longer accept bio-solids for land application at its woodlot. This has created a significant issue for other local governments which have been relying on this means of disposing their bio-solids, and must now find other solutions with little lead time.
Ladysmith staff visited facilities such as the one in Cumberland, and others in BC, to investigate odour control operations and ensure we were employing the best technology.
Between the size of our operations and the make-up of our bio-solids, comparing Ladysmith’s operation the nearby facilities on Fisher Road in Cobble Hill, and Coast Environmental in Chemainus is a bit like comparing a pumpkin to a strawberry. Ladysmith’s composting facility takes only a single source of bio-solids (remains from our waste water treatment plant), unlike the other facilities. We do not mix household waste in our composting process. Our volumes are significantly lower than those facilities; in fact, we aren’t even in the same ballpark. We understand that the Fisher Road facility has the capacity to process up to 18,000 tons annually. We further understand that the composting facility at Chemainus processes about 12,000 tons annually. Ladysmith will process about 1,500 tons a year.
Below are some links to research, reports and regulations relating to bio-solids composting.
Two European perspectives:
Canadian research suggesting that composting is an effective treatment of bio-solids in terms of reducing potential risk to humans and the environment
General background on bio-solids use in agriculture in Canada:
Results of a 2009 Canadian study on the use of bio-solids:
BC Organic Matter Recycling Regulation (OMRR)