The regional biosolids compost facility co-operated by Kelowna and Vernon. Photo:Contributed

Province demands additional $300,000 regional compost facility upgrade

Kelowna and Vernon to share the costs on project now costing $800,000

Provincial environment protection requests have added $300,000 to the initially projected cost of $500,000 to upgrade the regional biosolids compost facility which produces the soil enhancer OgoGrow.

The leachate management project is required to be completed by Oct. 31, 2018, according to the facility’s operating permit issued under the B.C. Environment Management Act.

The facility, opened in 2006 at 551 Commonage Rd. in Vernon, is jointly funded by the City of Vernon and City of Kelowna, with the additional cost split $100,000 to Vernon and $200,000 to Kelowna’s wastewater utility.

Kevin Van Vliet, City of Kelowna utility services manager, said the new provincially mandated leachate pollution safeguards were not called for before, and the facility has never had an incident yet of leachate escaping into the neighbouring environment.

“It’s is a shocking number but it reflects the lack of control the city has over biosolid management and landfill regulation control,” said Van Vliet.

The regional biosolids compost facility operating permit allows for discharge of pollution to air, but not to the ground or waterways. The leachate management system must ensure no liquid, including stormwater, can be discharged to the environment.

The leachate sources are two-fold: high strength leachate is generated from primary and secondary compost piles and is sent to the North Okanagan Regional District seepage handling facility for treatment; low strength leachate consists of stormwater run-off that is generated on the rest of the facility, roadways, compost screening and compost storage.

The low-strength leachate is directed by a drainage trench into a holding pond, from which a significant portion of this leachate evaporates, with the rest pumped into a City of Vernon effluent pipe that discharges into the McKay Reservoir for final treatment.

The environment ministry was concerned that the channel and pond did not have the engineered impermeable lining to prevent leachate from infiltrating the groundwater, which generated the additional $300,000 cost.

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