Learn how waste is transformed into a usable resource with this look at the creation of Nutrifor. Over 750,000 tonnes of biosolids have been transformed into this manufactured soil since 1990, and used in a variety of applications across our region.
Annacis Island Waste Water Treatment Plant operator Craig Meyer holds some black, lumpy material in his hands. It looks a bit like asphalt or some kind of sticky soil.
“I’m holding in my hands some Class A biosolids. This comes from the digesters. After the sludge has been cooked for twenty days it goes to the dewatering building. This is about 70% water and 30% solids. These biosolids are really rich in nitrogen and phosphorus and other nutrients. We use it for old mining site reclamation and forestry projects.”
Another place biosolids were used extensively was in the building of the Annacis Wastewater Centre, a facility for research and technology trials related to wastewater, situated adjacent to the Annacis treatment plant, which is Metro Vancouver’s largest wastewater treatment facility.
Metro Vancouver Biosolids Project Coordinator Tania Gheseger stands in front a small hill of dirt, not far from the research building. A front end loader dumps sand and sawdust into a large soil mixing machine, as a conveyor belt transports the material to the top of the slowly growing pile.
“Behind me we’re mixing the biosolids soil, using sawdust and sand. We’re utilizing materials that were brought originally for preparing the site. So, we are using the preload sand as a component in the biosolids soil mixture and we also using locally sourced wood products as well. The biosolids themselves come from the Annacis Island Wastewater Treatment Plant.”
Michael Van Ham, Senior Environmental Scientist and President of SYLVIS Environmental scoops up a shovel full of the manufactured soil, crumbling it in his hands.
“This is the final product — biosolids growing medium containing biosolids from the Annacis plant. The biosolids in a fabricated soil are very useful and very unique in that because they originate predominantly from materials that we consume, the nutrients that are in the biosolids — the nitrogen, the phosphorus, the boron, the potassium, they are all in the right ratios and they have the concentrations that make them ideal for growing food again. And so, as a result, this growing media that contains biosolids can be used to grow vegetables, fruits, crops that we would eat.”
Recovering biosolids and using them to enrich soils in a wide variety of applications is one way in which wastewater becomes a valuable resource.