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October 20, 2009
For immediate release

Regulations to End Spreading of Unprocessed Septage

Environment, Energy & Forestry

New rules governing the handling of septage will help nutrient management and reduce the hazards of untreated waste being spread on the land, Environment, Energy and Forestry Minister Richard Brown says.

At Tuesday’s meeting of Executive Council, Cabinet approved amendments to the Environmental Protection Act to stop the direct land-spreading of septage (waste removed from septic systems.) Under the changed rules, all septage must be taken to an approved wastewater treatment facility for processing.

The new rules for septage treatment and disposal come into effect January 1, 2010.

The Charlottetown and Summerside wastewater treatment facilities are equipped to process septage. Once the material has been treated, it produces a screened, stable biosolid product that can be incorporated into land owners’ nutrient management plans.

“By improving the treatment of waste, we can better control nutrients being released into the environment. This helps fulfill recommendations from the Commission on Nitrates in Groundwater which found that domestic waste was contributing to the total nitrate load of ground water and surface water,” said the minister.

As part of the provincial biosolids management strategy, the upgrades of the Charlottetown and Summerside treatment plants included the capacity to process septage from waste pumpers. The federal government and the cities of Summerside and Charlottetown have partnered with the provincial government to build these facilities and implement the new provincial biosolids strategy.

Roughly 45 percent of Prince Edward Island’s population is serviced by on-site septic systems, which have to be pumped out every three to five years by one of the province’s 34 licensed septage haulers. Under existing regulations, septage removed by a hauler has been allowed to be treated at a wastewater plant, disposed of on farmland or held in approved holding sites.

The treatment process will produce a more stable solid waste lower in nitrate than the initial septage. The treatment and stabilization of septage will reduce the nitrate impact compared to previous practices.

“Our departmental staff has already consulted with the waste haulers but we will be making a particular effort in coming weeks to educate the industry. The industry will be given a bit of time to make arrangements to process this waste and to advise their customers of any rate changes due to the cost of trucking and processing this material,” said the minister.

Media Contact: Ron Ryder
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