Controversial composting issue back before South Okanagan regional district - InfoNews

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Controversial composting issue back before South Okanagan regional district

A turned windrow composting facility.
May 24, 2019 - 1:00 PM

PENTICTON - What to do about the region’s food and organics waste was back on the regional board’s agenda this week.

The topic, which has a “long and storied history” in the regional district, according to chief administrative officer Bill Newell, proved to be a controversial issue during the previous board’s tenure.

They found themselves stymied by the issue after two attempts to site a compost facility — one in the Marron Valley, and one at the Summerland landfill — were met with a vocal local backlash by nearby residents.

Newell said district staff and the previous board had invested a substantial amount of time, initiating several studies, on the issue.

“Perceptually, anything to do with establishing a new site won’t be palatable with the public," he said. “There will be controversy.”

Two negative aspects of a regional facility are potential odour issues in the vicinity of the site and the need for South Okanagan residents to further separate waste, which is residential and commercial food waste in this case.

The benefits include a longer landfill life, the generation of local compost for agriculture and a reduction in greenhouse gases.

Yesterday morning, May 23, Tetra Tech Manager of Operation Andrew Reeder told the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen Board of Directors in a presentation that organics waste — which includes residential and commercial food waste — is the largest source of waste not currently diverted that is going into the Campbell Mountain landfill, making up 40 per cent of all waste deposited there.

Reeder said there was a business case for an organics composting facility that could reduce the cost of handling waste from $110/tonne to between $65 and $80, using the Kootenay-Boundary’s composting program as an example of a successful rural program, which would be similar to the regional district’s program.

In the Kootenay program, more waste is now processed by weight as organics then garbage at a turned windrow operation at Grand Forks landfill.

Summerland is currently pursuing their own solution for biosolids and food waste composting, while the City of Penticton has nearly completed their biosolids study and will need to upgrade their facility at the Campbell Mountain landfill.

Keremeos and Okanagan Falls need solutions for their waste water sludge and the Oliver landfill has a large stockpile of organics that need to be processed.

The board was provided with the following four options to consider at a later date if they wished, but no recommendation was approved at yesterday’s meeting

  • to proceed with two sub-regional compost sites at the Campbell Mountain and Oliver landfills
  • one sub regional site at the Campbell Mountain landfill
  • a regional site of undetermined location
  • abandon the prospect of organics diversion

The board did approve a recommendation to apply for $1.2 million in grant funding for design and construction of a compost site at the Oliver landfill that would "be capable of processing residential food and yard waste in a manner that would protect the environment and not create nuisances for neighbouring properties" during the afternoon's regular board meeting.

Get caught up on the South Okanagan composting issue here.

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