The murky management of Guelph’s sewage sludge

A Four Part Series

Note to readers: This is the third part of a special guelphspeaks exclusive series of the state of the city and the many unanswered questions that taxpayers should be asking.  As usual, guelphspeaks urges all viewers to tell their friends and family to follow the blog that works to keep citizens aware of how their city works. No smoke and mirrors, just the unvarnished commentary and facts.

Part Three

                Sewage treatment saga

Posted September 21, 2012

Why spend an estimated $20 million to build two stainless steel glass-lined storage silos for collecting processed sewage sludge, most of which is currently going into landfill sites?

Has the 2011 request for proposal (RFP) to build the storage tanks been completed and a contract awarded?

Has the storage tank construction begun at the wastewater treatment plant?

How is this project being financed?

What are the terms of the contract with Lystek, the human waste fertilizer company based in Cambridge, to take Guelph’s sewage sludge and convert it to liquid to be spread on agricultural lands?

Does Lystek’ system infuse dewatered sewage sludge with raw sewage from porta-pottys, septic systems and aircraft toilets to liquify for distribution?

What are the dangers to residents of consuming food products grown on lands fertilized with human waste?

Are consumers warned of potential dangers of foods grown on lands fertilized with human waste?

Why spend more money to turn human waste into fertilizer when experiments with the Lystek system in the past five years has resulted in utilizing only 15 per cent of the sewage plant output?

Are the storage silos going to store sewer sludge from other municipalities?

Why is 85 per cent of Guelph’s sewage sludge being transported to three different landfill sites in Ontario and the U.S.?

Is the plan to stop transferring the material to landfills?

Why hasn’t the city informed the public in clear terms what the plan is to dispose of sewage sludge?

When staff is questioned, why is there an embargo on revealing sewage waste plans?

What is the position of the federal and provincial health and environmental authorities in respect to using human waste as agriculture fertilizer?

              Stimulus projects

Why spend federal/provincial infrastructure stimulus funding on bicycle lanes, Sleeman centre time clock?

Why was it necessary to call the $30 million note with Guelph Hydro to finance stimulus projects?

Did the city meet the federal/provincial stimulus completion deadlines in order to obtain the qualifying grants?

If not, were taxpayers forced to pay additional funds to complete the stimulus projects?

Are all the approved stimulus projects completed?

If not, what projects remain to be completed?

Would it be a good idea to inform taxpayers of the status of these projects that have disrupted the city for some three years?

Tomorrow, September 22, the fourth part of this series discusses the staff’s response to a council directive to maintain a three per cent 2013 property tax increase.

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