Quebec Publishes Key Biosolids Reports

In 2016, the Quebec public health institute (INSP du Québec), the Quebec environment ministry (MDELCC), and RECYC-QUÉBEC released important and informative reports (en français) that advance biosolids and residuals recycling in the province:

  1. 25 FAQs was released by the MDELCC; it is a compendium of 25 questions and responses regarding potential public health impacts of biosolids applications to soils. It references and relies on information from an earlier 2016 report released by INSP (Samuels et al., 2016), which concluded that, despite lack of adequate epidemiological research, data suggest that risks from chemicals and pathogens from biosolids applied in accordance with Quebec regulations are minimal and not that different than the risks from animal manure use.  To mitigate risks, both require strict adherence to regulations and best management practices, which "should be maintained and amended in the light of new scientific knowledge." The FAQs also describe "the Department's approach to protecting the quality of the environment and human health," explains Marc Hébert of MDELCC.
  2. The second report, by MDELCC, provides statistics and other details regarding the biosolids and other residuals recycled in Quebec in 2015.  It is the most comprehensive report yet produced for the province and is a model compilation. The tables and graphs are of interest to anyone, even those not reading French.  The organics programs, which include the full variety of organics including biosolids and paper mill residuals, yielded significant statistics.  According to the Ministry:
  • They diverted more than 1.5 million tonnes from landfill.
  • They improved the soil of about 1,700 agricultural enterprises.  
  • The recycling rate for municipal biosolids climbed to 42%. 
  • Approximately 72% of the recycled organics were used on agricultural land on 6% of Quebec's farms and 4.3% of Quebec's cultivated soils (65% of the province's soils receive mineral fertilizers and 50% receive manures).
  • Municipal biosolids were used on 1.5% of cultivated land. 
  • 8% of the residuals were used for mine reclamation, 4% in silviculture, and 16% for other uses (e.g. composts for landscaping and horticulture).
  • These recycling programs employed 30 firms and 60 agronomists.

A big change reflected in 2015 is the transition to permit by notification for most (91%) biosolids and residuals management projects.  Individual certificates of authorization were required by the Ministry for only 9% of the 1,950 projects.  Regulatory conformance confirmed by 27-point inspections was found to be close to 99%.

    3. RECYC-QUÉBEC and Solinov produced a "Best Practices" guide for recycling of municipal biosolids.  According to the Ministry: "The purpose of this guide is to assist municipal wastewater treatment plant managers in identifying key technical, administrative and logistical aspects of establishing and maintaining a biosolids recycling program. It includes the information necessary for the planning and implementation of a recycling program, as well as a compilation of details to be included in program documents and contracts. It also includes case studies of 5 wastewater treatment plants that already recycle their biosolids; these are particularly interesting."