Residents want sludge out

Residents around the Campbell Mountain Landfill are wringing their hands and holding their noses at the possibility that wastewater treatment sludge could continue to be composted on the site for decades to come.

The Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen is currently holding open houses as it decides on a new location for its organic compost (food scraps, yard waste) facility. They’ve settled on one of two locations; at the Summerland landfill or on the southern end of PIB territory.

During last week’s meeting for Penticton residents, described as a “barn burner” by attendee Pamela Willis, residents let the RDOS know loudly that they wanted the biosolids (sludge) composting facility out of the landfill. 

“It does not belong there, they’ve allowed subdivisions up here, there’s now quite a lot of population up on the hill,” she said, referring to residents up Spiller Road, where she has lived since 1975. “It stinks.”

While the RDOS runs the landfill on land leased from the city, the City of Penticton’s biosolids composting facility is also situated there. Sludge from the city’s wastewater treatment plant is trucked up the hill, mixed with wood chips, and turned into compost.

Once the RDOS decides where it will be moving its organic composting operations, the City of Penticton will make a decision if its biosolids plant will leave with it. But the possibility that it could stay put, or worse, move to the other side of Spiller Road, has residents alarmed.

“Everyone who uses Spiller Road will be driving through the middle of the dump, because it will be on both sides,” Willis said “That’s absolutely unacceptable to everyone up here.”

She added that many people use the area in question for recreation.

But City of Penticton’s public works manager Len Robson said they are still years away from making such a decision, estimating it could be three years before the RDOS has it’s new organic compost site up and running.

“They’ve talked about us moving on the other side of the road, but we’ve not agreed to anything, it’s in discussion, and when I say discussion, I mean it’s been brought up,” he said.

The RDOS is currently piloting a project that uses mature biosolids-based compost as a bio-cover to capture gases escaping the landfill, and Robson admits, if that pilot proves succesful it could make sense to leave the biosolids composting facility at the landfill. 

“There may be a good case to take all of our biosolids compost that we currently produce and use it for that process, because they would need everything that we could possibly make,” he said.

RDOS solid waste management co-ordinator Cameron Baughen heard loud and clear from residents worried about having to drive through a landfill on both sides to reach their home, but said the wastewater treatment sludge facility will have to move outside of the current footprint of the landfill eventually.

“As the landfill expands, we are running out of space,” he said, talking long term, 20-30 years.

Baughen acknowledges that the RDOS doesn’t know if they can bring the city’s biosolids composting with them to wherever the new organic composting plant is built, “because we have not acquired it yet.”

Robson also noted that there have been informal discussions about rerouting Spiller Road all together, should the biosolids facility actually end up moving directly east of the landfill.


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