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Biosolids Management

Construction started in July 2013 on a new biosolids management facility on Kelly Lake Road, in Sudbury. The project, which has been in the works for several years, is the City's first public-private partnership. N-Viro, a Canadian-owned consortium, has been hired to design, build, maintain and operate the facility for a period of 20 years. Full ownership of the facility will remain with the City. The Government of Canada has committed to contributing up to $11 million through the P3 Canada Fund to support the new biosolids management facility project.

Backgrounder: Biosolids Management Facility

Find out more by reading the project summary and value-for-money report or view a presentation made to Council on July 9, 2013.

What is a Biosolids Management Facility?

Why does Greater Sudbury need a Biosolids Management Facility?

How will taxpayers benefit from a Biosolids Management Facility?

Who owns and will operate the Biosolids Management Facility?

What is the total cost of the Biosolids Management Facility?

How will Greater Sudbury pay the capital costs?

Who is PPP Canada?

How long did it take to build the facility?

What is so unique about this facility and the process?

What will be done with the end product?

Will there be an opportunity for residents to purchase N-Rich?

What is a public-private partnership?

What are the main advantages of a public-private partnership?
 

What is a Biosolids Management Facility?
A Biosolids Management Facility processes sewage sludge, which is a normal end product of the sewage treatment process, to create an agriculturally beneficial product with low odour potential and little environmental impact. Biosolids management facilities use a heat and/or chemical process to kill harmful organisms called pathogens which may be present in untreated sewage sludge.

Why does Greater Sudbury need a Biosolids Management Facility?
The municipality has been using tailings ponds near Lively for over 30 years as a disposal site for waste activated sludge from its wastewater treatment facilities. While this was once an acceptable practice, changing environmental standards and recurrent episodes of foul odour have made this disposal method unsustainable.

How will taxpayers benefit from a Biosolids Management Facility?
While the disposal of sludge at the tailings ponds was once an acceptable practice, changing environmental standards and recurrent episodes of foul odour have made this disposal method unsustainable. The Biosolids Management Facility treats the sludge and produces an end product that is a soil amendment, used primarily in the agricultural sector and for land and mining reclamation, soil amendment, and agriculture, all of which benefit the environment. The benefit also extends to homes not connected to the City’s sanitary sewer system infrastructure. Septage will be hauled to a new Septage Receiving Station for treatment, which is part of the Biosolids Project. The City will be receiving 5 per cent of revenues from the sale of the end-product produced at the Biosolids Management Facility. With the $11 million contribution toward the construction of the facility by P3 Canada, the City is not responsible for the entire cost of the project and, at the same time, has greatly improved existing infrastructure.

Who owns and will operate the Biosolids Management Facility?
The City will maintain full ownership of the facility.

The facility will be operated by N-Viro®, a Walker Environmental Group Company (N-Viro); a family-owned diverse company with more than 125 years of operating experience in the industry.

When the original contract was awarded, N-Viro Systems Canada LP was its own entity. In May 2014, Walker Environmental Group Inc. finalized the purchase of N-Viro.

N-Viro is a leader in the industry. The N-Viro Process recovers essential nutrients from bio-organic materials such as source-separated organics (SSO) and dewatered biosolids and returns them to our soil as a soil amendment or fertilizer. The process blends the bio-organic materials with inert alkaline material such as lime kiln dust and cement kiln dust to produce a product known as N-Rich®.  
 
What is the total cost of the Biosolids Management Facility?
The cost for the Biosolids Management Facility is $63.1 million. PPP Canada is funding $11 million of that amount. The City of Greater Sudbury has committed to the balance, over the 20-year operating term outlined in the contract.

How will Greater Sudbury pay the capital costs?
The City of Greater Sudbury recognizes that the Biosolids Management Facility represents a significant investment. The City will debt-finance 75 per cent less PPP Canada’s share of the construction costs. N-Viro is financing the remaining 25 per cent.

Who is PPP Canada?
PPP Canada is a Federal Crown Corporation established to support the development of public-private partnerships (P3) and to facilitate the development of the Canadian P3 market. To be approved for funding, the plant must be either designed or built by the private sector and the private sector must either finance or maintain/operate the plant.

How long did it take to build the facility?
Site mobilization for the construction of the CGS Biosolids Management Facility began June 17, 2013. At that time, it was estimated that construction would take two years. The estimated time frame for completion was May 2015. The start up and commissioning of the facility began in March 2015, taking sludge produced at all City wastewater treatment plants to produce biosolids. This final phase of the project was completed at the end of April 2015, allowing the plant to proceed to operational status as scheduled.

What is so unique about this facility and the process?
The Biosolids Management Facility is designed to handle up to 15,000 wet tonnes of dewatered biosolids per year produced by the City of Greater Sudbury. The process is an entirely closed system designed to protect the environment inside and out by preventing the escape of air, dust and odours. The facility will operate throughout the year, producing approximately 30,000 tonnes of a Class A biosolids product called N-Rich® annually.

What will be done with the end product?
As part of the agreement with the City, N-Viro is responsible for marketing the final product and for transporting it off site. The majority of the end product, called N-Rich®, produced at the City of Greater Sudbury Biosolids Management Facility has been pre-sold for the next 10 years. N-Rich will be used in mining reclamation projects in the Sudbury area.

Will there be an opportunity for residents to purchase N-Rich?
At this time, residents cannot purchase the end-product N-Rich. N-Viro is currently committed to providing inventory to Glencore. It may be possible in the future, however the facility is not presently equipped to prepare product for retail sale. 

What is a public-private partnership?
The private sector, in partnership with the public sector, assumes a role in the development of public infrastructure. In a public-private partnership (P3), a government enters into a contract with a company or companies that may take on responsibility for one of the following scenarios: designing and building (DB), designing-building and financing (DBF), or designing-building-financing, operating and maintaining (DBFOM). For the Biosolids Management Facility, ownership of the facility by the private sector was not under consideration as the City will retain full ownership of the infrastructure.

What are the main advantages of a public-private partnership? 
The main advantage of a public-private partnership is that it transfers construction and operating risks to the private sector, maximizes access to private sector innovation and experience, generally results in faster construction time, provides single-point accountability, results in fewer construction claims and generally provides long-term financial stability related to construction and operating costs. Immediate construction of a community asset through private sector financing, in return for some form of annual payment by the city, is also beneficial when access to capital dollars is limited.