Improving Niagara Biosolids Processing through Strategic Partnerships

The regional government of Niagara has been developing a plan of improving Niagara biosolids processing and wastewater management, with the help of private enterprise, to adequately service their community.

The Niagara Region is a regional municipality which covers an area of approximately 715-square-miles straddling the isthmus between lakes Erie and Ontario. On the eastern border is the Niagara River while the western border lies the City of Hamilton and Haldimand County. It has a population of 430,000 across five cities and two townships.

The regional government invested in improving Niagara biosolids processing through a master plan in the late 90s to deal with the wastewater by-products.

In 2004, they started to look for ways to diversify the use of biosolids and began regional government issued requests for proposals for a centralized processing facility to enhance the Niagara biosolids processing.

The result was a 50-50 joint venture between Walker Environmental Group (a division of family-owned Walker Industries) and N-Viro Systems Canada. Walker Industries brought their experience in operating landfills and limestone quarries that produces crushed stone and aggregates, road asphalt and waterproofing emulsions for building products and wallboard. N-Viro specialized in processing biosolids using an alkaline-stabilization process to yield Class A products by U.S. standards. N-Viro soon after was eventually acquired by Walker Industries and brought it into the fold of the Walker Environmental Group.

The Niagara Biosolids Processing Facility, located in Thorold, Ontario, began operations in 2007. It operated under contract with the regional government. In time, the facility has exceeded their expected output and have brought new ways of making good use of the biosolids by-products.

Geoff Boyd, general manager and the plant’s owner, is part of the Walker Environmental Group. They have primarily been responsible for the initiative to improve biosolids processing in the region. In 2014 they were awarded the Exemplary Biosolids Management Award by the Water Environment Association of Ontario for their efforts.

The region’s communities needed a better way to manage their biosolids which were initially applied to farmlands in liquid form. “If they didn’t have us as an outlet, they could potentially get themselves into a serious compliance situation. Liquid biosolids can be affected greatly by weather and land availability.” Long winters and wet springs narrowed the opportunities,” Boyd says.

What sets the Thorold facility from other treatment plants is that it is operated by a private company rather than by the Niagara Region municipality. The company reasoned to municipal officials that it could reduce the risk of liability and bring solid marketing experience. “They felt that we could also operate the plant more cost-effectively than they could,” Boyd added.

All the dewatered biosolids from other plants in the Niagara region and the City of Toronto are brought over to the Thorold facility. The rest of the liquid biosolids are brought to a central dewatering site owned and operated by the region.

The primary method of treatment employed by all the treatment plants in the region is anaerobic digestion. The biosolids account for about 3 percent of the wastewater being treated but using a centrifuge increases the output to 30 percent. The Walker plant then receives the biosolids at a rate of about 100 to 165 tons every weekday.

If you are a municipality in Ontario and in need of a biosolids management solution, please feel free to contact us at 1 (877) 479-1388.


Improving Niagara Biosolids Processing through Strategic Partnerships
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