British Columbians will have a chance to engage with government as part of a comprehensive review of the organic matter recycling regulation (OMRR), to ensure it remains protective of human health and the environment.
Over the coming months, detailed policy proposals will be drafted with respect to biosolids and other municipal wastewater by-products. A policy intentions paper will then be posted online by fall 2016, for the public to provide comments and feedback. Concurrent with the public engagement, discussions will also take place with First Nations, agriculture producers and local governments.
Since the fall of 2015, government has worked collaboratively with the five Nicola Valley First Nations to involve First Nations oversight and participation in a scientific review of biosolids in the region, and this engagement will continue.
Subsequent amendments to the OMRR, based on all engagement and information received, will be made in 2017.
The current OMRR has been in effect since 2002. Examples of elements from OMRR which will be up for review include potential new standards for organic contaminants as well as requirements for the production, management and use of biosolids.
The public engagement will build on work already underway to improve knowledge and information sharing about biosolids. The Province and biosolids management experts are currently finalizing a comprehensive review of academic literature and research on biosolids which explores the impacts to wildlife, aquatic life, food and human health as well as cumulative effects and alternatives to the use of biosolids.
In advance of the formal review of OMRR, additional sampling will be completed this spring to assess metal and pathogen levels against current OMRR standards. The ministry will also conduct exploratory sampling of biosolids for selected organic contaminants. This is an expansion of the sampling program that was committed to by the Province in June 2015 as part of the scientific review of biosolids in the Nicola Valley. This review is expected to be posted publicly by the end of May 2016.
Biosolids, manure and chemical fertilizers are the most common soil enhancements used in British Columbia. View a summary comparison document of these soil enhancements here: http://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/environment/waste-management/recycling/organics/biosolids/biosolids-manure-comparison.pdf
To learn more about B.C.’s framework for land application of biosolids, visit: http://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/environment/waste-management/recycling/organics/biosolids/regulatory_framework.pdf
To find out how biosolids are managed around the world, visit: http://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/environment/waste-management/recycling/organics/biosolids/biosolid_world_map.pdf