I appreciate the coverage KTW has been providing on the issue of spreading biosolids on a bison ranch in Turtle Valley.
There are a couple of items that require clarification.
While the use of class B biosolids on agricultural land should be of concern to anyone who consumes food, in this particular land-use application, there are additional anomalies that require more scrutiny than seems to have taken place.
One of the huge concerns for residents of Turtle Valley is the load of biosolids to be applied to the Turtle Valley Bison Ranch.
Ranch spokesperson Conrad Schiebel of Bragg Creek, Alta., was reported saying in an earlier interview that biosolids application would improve the soil.
This is debatable as highly qualified scientists have widely differing views.
Erring on the side of caution would be the wiser course of action. In this particular application, there are other areas of major concern.
This land application plan calls for 35,000 dry tonnes of mixed biosolids (some from the Kamloops stockpile and some that has only been composted) to be applied to 31 hectares of land. This works out to 777 dry tonnes per hectare.
To give your readers a sense of just how troubling this figure is, compare it with two other local projects. The Sunny Hills Ranch near Knutsford was to receive a maximum application rate of 19 dry tonnes per hectare.
The Campbell ranches near Kamloops were to receive a maximum application rate of 17 dry tons per hectare, according to the Kamloops Biosolids Awareness Network.
It is hard to envision, but the bison ranch plan is to spread fabricated soil (one part biosolids/three parts soil/one part wood fibre) on the site one metre ( just over three feet) deep.
This is such a staggering amount that it is hard to see this as anything other than a dump.
The proposed site of the biosolids application sits on a hillside that slopes down to Chum Creek and Chum Lake. The slopes on the application site are significant and the slopes above the site even more so.
In Turtle Valley, spring runoff and extreme weather events have already created problems, washing out culverts and flooding roads and properties.
This is particularly apparent on land that has been previously logged.
Surface water runoff can enter Chum Creek and find its way from there into Little Shuswap Lake and the Thompson River system, where the toxic materials it carries can impact some of the province’s major salmon runs.
It is of note that some provinces, including Nova Scotia, prohibit the use of biosolids on land on which the slope exceeds eight per cent.
There is also no discussion in the land application plan of how stable this one metre of material will be on a sloped surface. Seeding will take place, but it will take several years and good weather conditions for sufficient cover and root mass to hold this fill in place.
A final note of potential concern to residents of Sorrento and Tappen and those living on Skimikin Road is the possibility the route trucks carrying biosolids take from Kamloops to the Turtle Valley site could affect them directly.
The Squilax-Turtle Valley Road may not be able to accommodate the volume of heavy traffic planned.
The alternate route would be to continue down the Trans-Canada Highway to Tappen and, ultimately, to Skimikin Road.
Given the volume of material to be transported, 700 truck loads according to Arrow, the impact on families living along this route could be significant.
Without this background information, it is difficult for people to understand how far from the norm this particular land use application plan is and why it is so concerning.
These are significant risks and warrant more investigation.
This project should not proceed.
Those interested in more information can check out the Turtle Valley Against Biosolids Facebook page.