Metro Vancouver has more poop than it knows what to do with. The region has so much human waste that officials are considering converting Metro Vancouver’s human waste into energy. Narcity has reviewed the recommendations in the report so you don’t have to and to be honest, it's as fascinating as it is gross. But don't be alarmed, it’s not as nasty as you might think. 

Humans… have to go. But did you know the waste we produce can actually be turned into something viable? Biosolids that come from human waste can be dried and used to benefit the city.

According to a report by Lillian Zaremba, a manager with the regional district’s liquid water services, dried biosolids are actually nutrient-rich. Treated sewage sludge could even be used as an energy source. 

Now, Metro Vancouver has received a recommendation to establish a drying facility for these biosolids in order to produce energy.

It sounds as though it is coming at a good time because according to estimates laid out in the report, Metro Vancouver will have a large influx of human waste partly due to the increase in population.

The details about how to source the energy aren’t as gross as you may think. Here’s how it works:

Let’s start with what a biosolid is. According to Dictionary.com, a biosolid is “organic matter recycle from sewage, especially for use in agriculture.” It’s basically a substance that comes mostly from human waste. 

The report issued by Zaremba suggests that Metro Vancouver should create a drying facility for biosolids in order to convert it into a reusable source. 

According to the report, Metro Vancouver already generates about 55,000 bulk tonnes of biosolids annually from five wastewater treatment plants. About 90% of the biosolids generated over the past 20 years have been used beneficially through land application “which recycles nutrients and organic matter.” 

This includes fabricating topsoil, fertilizing land, and constructing a biocover for landfill closer which helps to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions.

Due to population growth, and other factors, biosolids generated by Metro Vancouver are anticipated to grow to over 90,000 tonnes per year by 2021. By 2050, it will be over 150,000 tonnes annually. 

“It is unlikely that Metro Vancouver can secure sufficient new land application projects to beneficially use the entire additional biosolids recovered,” reads the report.

“Metro Vancouver WWTPs (wastewater treatment plants) no longer have space to stockpile biosolids, so excess biosolids that cannot be beneficially used would be sent to landfill disposal.”

The report suggests that dried biosolids could be used as fuel to replace coal in cement kilns or as an ingredient in blended fertilizer. This would be beneficial for a number of reasons including a reduction of regional greenhouse gas emissions. 

The report framework has stated several beneficial uses of biosolids including using it as fuel to produce energy or using it for land application such as fertilizer.  

Due to this, the report named a biosolids drying facility as the most viable and cost-effective option. Hopefully, this process won't produce too much noise

The proposed facility is projected to have a capital cost of $197 million.

Should Metro Vancouver move forward with the suggestion, the facility would be built at one of the region's already established wastewater treatment plants where biogas from the plant and natural gas could supply the energy requirements for drying. 

Let's just hope the response to this will be more positive than when Metro Vancouver unveiled their "crappy" new mascots


There are stories everywhere. If you spot a newsworthy event in your city, send us a message, photo, or video @NarcityCanada on Twitter and Instagram.


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