Human waste ‘backlog’ from Red Deer to be spread on farmers’ fields this spring

Council approved $1 million to compensate for loss of crops

To keep Red Deer’s full sewage lagoons from overflowing, people poop needs to be spread on Central Alberta farmer’s fields this spring and summer.

This means city council had to approve $1 million over two years on Monday to compensate area farmers who will put some of their land out of crop rotation to accommodate treated regional solid wastes — which happen to be high in soil nutrients.

It’s a unique problem that Red Deer city council had to “flush out” at Monday’s budget meeting, according to punster, Coun. Ken Johnston.

Council heard that Red Deer’s sewage lagoons — the size of about six football fields — are getting very full because of an increase in collected waste from the region. Solid and liquid waste from Sylvan Lake, Olds and Bowden are now being treated in Red Deer, while Blackfalds and Lacombe waste is coming into the city for treatment this year.

It’s not unusual for the City of Red Deer to spread some of the human byproduct on farmers’ fields. It’s been happening for decades, said the city’s development services director, Kelly Kloss. The solid waste is first heated to get rid of bacteria and other pathogens. Kloss said what remains is phosphates and nitrates, which are healthy for soil.

Usually this waste has been spreading in the fall, after crops are harvested, so the farm fields are not kept out of crop rotation. But two years of bad weather, with late harvests and early snowfalls, have created a “backlog” of solid wastes in the city’s sewer lagoons, said Kloss.

Several councillors questioned spending $1 million to compensate farmers for a product that’s essentially good for their operations. Coun. Lawrence Lee suggested trying to find another solution to deal with the backlog of waste in 2019.

But Coun. Dianne Wyntjes stressed the importance of council taking timely action, since the municipality could spend big money on environmental fines if the lagoons overflow. And Coun. Michael Dawe, who’s sat on the regional waste water commission, noted it’s not a simple or quick process, since Alberta Environment must first provide permits for dealing with waste spreading on any fields.

In an unintentional pun, Mayor Tara Veer said she sees it as a “pay now or pay later issue… We can deal with it at the front end or the back end…”

As councillors chortled, she quickly apologized for her “poor choice of words.”

Council ultimately approved the spending after deciding it’s reasonable to compensate farmers if their fields are put out of commission for a growing season. Staff was directed to look at ways of incorporating the solid waste in the compost process.

But Kloss said another composting plant would have to be built to allow for this in future.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Red Deer raises $60,000 for Make-A-Wish Foundation

27 brave residents rappell down Stantec Building

People hurt in rollover near Red Deer

Occupants of a vehicle that rolled south of Hwy 11A were airlifted… Continue reading

Eager-beaver cannabis entrepreneurs already waiting outside Red Deer City Hall

Appications will be accepted on a first-come basis starting on Tuesday

Like father like son: Red Deer area Dreeshen family dedicates life to public service

There are three jobs that could be considered the Dreeshen family business:… Continue reading

Restaurant owner concerned about Gasoline Alley road changes

Nearly 20 trucks were lined up on the service road in front… Continue reading

WATCH: Hypnotizing show at Westerner Days

Hynotist and mentalist Joshua Seth performs three times a day at Westerner Days

Evacuation numbers remain at nearly 1,000 as B.C. wildfires rage on

SUMMERLAND, B.C. — Officials in British Columbia’s Okanagan region hope that fire… Continue reading

WWII hero’s lost Purple Heart returned to his family

NEW YORK — A lost Purple Heart medal has been returned to… Continue reading

California girl, 2, accidentally shot and killed by boy, 4

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. — Authorities say a 4-year-old boy accidentally shot and… Continue reading

A hairy issue: Sailors tell the US Navy, ‘We want beards’

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Now that women in the Navy can wear ponytails,… Continue reading

PHOTOS: River Town Saints rock Red Deer

River Town Saints play Westerner Days Friday in Red Deer

PHOTOS: Dogs, horses and more animals at Westerner Days

Westerner Park’s pavilions were filled with animals during Westerner Days

Red Deer residents can’t get enough mini-doughnuts

Mini-doughnuts were the biggest draw to Westerner Days according to a Red… Continue reading

Four-car crash, including RCMP vehicle, on Highway 2

Two sheriff vehicles were also involved in the collision

Most Read

Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month