Penticton explores modern options for wastewater solids

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Penticton-composting-facility
Penticton’s use of the Campbell Mountain Landfill for wastewater solids has been part of the controversy at several council meetings in 2018 for the neighbouring Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen. Residents have been up in arms over odours they say are emanating from the compost facility. Photo Credit: City of Penticton.

Penticton’s public works manager is recommending that the British Columbia city spend $125,000 to have a consultant recommend an array of modern options for handling wastewater solids.

Currently, the Okanagan Valley city of 44,000 people transports solids every weekday from its advanced wastewater treatment plant to a composting facility at the Campbell Mountain Landfill, where it’s processed into compost, using aerated static pile technology. An April staff report describes the process as being mixed with a blend of ground organic and dimensional lumber waste at a ratio that allows for the compost process to occur. After meeting the temperature and time requirements, the report adds, the completed compost is screened and sold in bulk or small quantities, primarily to local users.

“Although this simple process has worked reasonably well for many years, facility age, condition, regulations, marketing challenges, landfill needs, and development pressures have created the need to review operations and explore other potential methods of managing the solids,” wrote Penticton Public Works Manager Len Robson in the April staff report.

The Public Works Department wants to issue a request for proposals to qualified engineering consulting firms to identify potential alternative management processes in a report to service the sanitary sewer residuals management needs for at least the next 20 years.

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The review would explore:

  • Land application of biosolids
  • Incineration or waste to energy
  • Landfill options
  • Alternative solids processors
  • Digestion process at the wastewater plant (with and without food waste)
  • Drying and pelletizing
  • Compost production for landfill gas capture
  • Composting (current process or alternative process).

Robson’s staff report notes that the compost facility at Campbell Mountain does not meet new regulations, which is a particular driver for exploring additional composting options.

Robson also noted that the market for compost has been slow, with the city needing to hold compost giveaway days for Penticton businesses and residents in order to free up real estate at the landfill.

A community engagement plan was a strong component of Robson’s presentation to city council this month. He said that, due to recent controversies surrounding the siting of proposed composting facilities elsewhere in the region, he wanted to ensure that the public not only stayed in the loop, but that Penticton received the best guidance surrounding options for the future of its sewage management. The city even has a dedicated engagement strategist for the project.

Penticton’s use of the Campbell Mountain Landfill for wastewater solids has been part of the controversy at several council meetings in 2018 for the neighbouring Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen. Residents have been up in arms over odours they say are emanating from the compost facility where the wastewater solids are taken.

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