FAQs

FAQs

You have questions about biosolids? We have answers.

What are biosolids?

Biosolids are the result of the wastewater treatment process. They are produced from sewage solids that have been treated to eliminate harmful bacteria. The nutrients and organic matter found in composted biosolids and soils enhanced with biosolids feed our land, improving its stability, health, and productivity over time. Adding biosolids to our soils helps reduce runoff and soil erosion as well as the need for chemical fertilizers and irrigation water.

How are biosolids produced?

Before society started treating wastewater from toilets, sinks, and dishwashers, it was taken directly into our lakes, rivers, and oceans. Today, everything that goes down our drains is sent to wastewater treatment plants where the solids are separated from the liquids and are cleaned and treated to produce a sludge. This sludge is further sanitized, stabilized, tested, and shrunk to produce biosolids.

Are biosolids the same as sewage sludge?

Biosolids are not untreated waste like sewage or manure. They are also not the same as sewage sludge, which is what’s produced in the first stage of wastewater treatment process, when the solids and liquids that go down our drains from toilets, sinks, and dishwashers are separated, cleaned, and treated to remove harmful bacteria.

Biosolids are produced when sewage sludge goes through a biological decomposition process where bacteria and high temperatures sanitize, stabilize, and shrink wastewater solids, converting them to an earthy, soil-like material referred to as biosolids.

What are the different ways communities deal with biosolids?

Biosolids can be incinerated; sent to landfills; or recycled into composts and amended soils. In BC, 94% of our biosolids are recycled and applied back to the land. Using soils enhanced with biosolids to reclaim disturbed areas, develop land, and improve nutrient-poor soil offers communities a safe, socially responsible and environmentally sound disposal alternative for the waste they generate.

How are NutriGrow soil products made?

NutriGrow soil solutions are carefully designed and blended for specific applications and customer requirements. We blend biosolids and biosolid composts with feedstocks like sand, wood products, and rock, to provide drainage, improve soil structure, and give plants what they need to grow. Our products meet stringent quality standards defined by the BC Organic Matter Recycling Regulation, as well as standards set by the Canadian Council of Ministers of Environment (CCME) and the BC Landscape Nursery Association (BCLNA).

Why do NutriGrow soil solutions contain biosolids?

We add biosolids and biosolid composts to our soil solutions because they make our products better. Biosolids are an excellent source of nutrients and organic materials that feed our land, improving its stability, health, and productivity over time. Adding biosolids to our soils helps reduce runoff and soil erosion, boosts plant growth, and limits the need for chemical fertilizers and irrigation water.

NutriGrow’s composts and manufactured soils meet and exceed the rigorous standards set by the BC OMRR, as well as standards set by the Canadian Council of Ministers of Environment (CCME) and the BC Landscape Nursery Association (BCLNA).

Are biosolids safe?

Soils enhanced with biosolids are held to higher standards than most commercially available soils. Recycling biosolids and adding them to soils is among the most extensively researched and studied recycling practices in North America. Scientific studies continue to demonstrate the safety and benefits of using biosolids-enhanced soil solutions. Many of these international studies also help define best management practices, introduce improved treatment technologies, and provide scientific foundation for regulations.

In BC, the Organic Matter Recycling Regulation (OMRR) governs the production, quality and application of biosolids and other organic matter. OMRR provides clear guidance on how to use organic material while protecting soil quality and drinking water sources. Regulations like OMRR exist for the management and use of biosolids in jurisdictions around the world.

What are the benefits of enhancing soils with biosolids?

Many commercially available soils lack of organic matter and nutrients, or are contaminated with weed seeds, herbicides or bacteria (if untreated manures are used in the manufacturing process). Because biosolids are an excellent source of nutrients and organic materials, adding them to soils improves soil stability, health, and productivity over time. They also help reduce runoff and soil erosion, boosts plant growth, and limit the need for chemical fertilizers and irrigation water.

Biosolids are a particularly good source of nitrogen but also supply all of the macro and micro nutrients required for plant growth. Biosolids act as a slow-release fertilizer, releasing nutrients slowly over time. An application of soil enhanced with biosolids this year will still be providing some nutrients next year.

What is the difference between Class A and Class B biosolids?

The primary difference between Class A and Class B biosolids is in the pathogen content of the biosolids. Class A biosolids must be virtually pathogen free which requires greater than 99% pathogen destruction after heat treatment, essentially pasteurizing the material. Class B biosolids must have achieved close to 90% pathogen kill during processing and can only be used in controlled environments such as in agriculture and mine reclamation.

NutriGrow uses only Class A biosolids in our soil solutions.

How are biosolids used in BC?

In BC, 94% of our biosolids are recycled and applied back to the land. Using soils enhanced with biosolids to reclaim disturbed areas like mine sites, gravel pits, and landfills; to develop land; and to improve nutrient-poor soil offers communities a safe, socially responsible, and environmentally sound disposal alternative for the waste they generate.

How are biosolids regulated in BC?

The beneficial use of biosolids in BC is regulated by the Organic Matter Recycling Regulation. This regulation contains standards for the processes used to produce biosolids in wastewater treatment plants, the quality of the Class A and Class B biosolids produced, and the quality of soils blended with biosolids.

What is OMRR?

The Organic Matter Recycling Regulation of BC (OMRR) governs the production, quality and land application of certain types of organic matter. It provides clear guidance for local governments, as well as compost and biosolids producers, on how to use organic material while protecting soil quality and drinking water sources. Learn More.

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