Central Okanagan communities buy their way out of sewage sludge controversy | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Central Okanagan communities buy their way out of sewage sludge controversy

FILE PHOTO - Protestors occupied former premier Christy Clark's constituency office in West Kelowna on April 15, 2015 in opposition to the spreading of biosolids waste near Merritt.
September 13, 2017 - 8:00 PM

While Kelowna, Vernon and Kamloops are struggling to deal with excess biosolids, West Kelowna, Peachland and the Westbank First Nation have paid to have the problem go away.

After protests disrupted deliveries to its chosen contractor in the Nicola Valley near Merritt in 2015, the Central Okanagan Regional District on behalf of the three communities, turned first to its previous supplier near Clinton, B.C. then last year signed a contract to ship its sewage sludge to Red Deer, Alta.

While cost and safety during transportation was a factor during deliberations, the committee tasked with biosolids also discussed the "political risk" of dealing with both local protesters and First Nations like those encountered with BioCentral in the Nicola Valley.

Turning to Kelowna and Vernon wasn’t an option. Those two communities turn their biosolids into garden compost at a shared facility in Vernon on Commonage Road but it’s been over capacity for six years and couldn't accept anything beyond the 65,000 tonnes it was already processing.

Regional District communications officer Bruce Smith says the Westside regional wastewater treatment plant generates approximately 4,800 metric tonnes of biosolids each year with about three quarters coming from West Kelowna (74 per cent) and the rest coming the Westbank First Nation (18 per cent) and Peachland (eight per cent).

The regional district awarded two, three-year contracts for Class B sewage sludge transportation and disposal last November with Mike Vail Trucking Ltd for $1.7 million and a numbered company in Alberta doing business as Stickland Composting Facility for $877,000.

According to the regional district, Mike Vail Trucking was chosen in part because of extensive experience transporting biosolids while the Stickland Composting site has been in use for many years.

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