Saskatoon can now lay claim to Canada’s first facility for turning human waste into fertilizer.
The facility will be operated at Saskatoon’s wastewater treatment facility in partnership with Ostara Nutrient Recovery Technologies Inc. to produce about 300 tonnes of fertilizer each year.
Vancouver-based Ostara specializes in recovering phosphorus and nitrogen from a chemical that can clog and damage pipes. At the Saskatoon facility, it will convert the human waste into a slow-release fertilizer that can be sold to growers across North America.
According to Saskatoon’s utility services department, the new process will improve pipe flow, reduce the risk of phosphate mineral depletion in the plant, and draw minerals from the system to enhance the plant’s capacity.
Ostara says its process will remove 75 per cent of the phosphorus and 10 per cent of the nitrogen from the wastewater stream before they accumulate in the facility’s equipment.
“The example of responsible stewardship of our resources begins at home,” said Saskatoon Mayor Donald Atchison in an August 14, 2013 statement to media. “With the installation of Ostara’s technology at the wastewater treatment plant, we are proactively and cost-effectively tackling the growing issue of nutrient overload in our regional waterways. And that’s good for taxpayers and good for the environment,” added Atchison.
According to Saskatoon Utility Services General Manager, Jeff Jorgenson, the new system makes its “world-class facility even stronger”. The Saskatoon Wastewater Treatment Plant is already a designated Level 4 plant, which is the highest level of certification.
But in the joint statement with Atchison, Jorgenson noted that the new waste conversion process will make them “frontline stewards of our region’s watershed by removing otherwise polluting elements and transforming them into renewable and valuable resources.”
The project totaled $4.5 million, but the city’s fertilizer sales are expected to offset that cost.