Soil Fabrication Program

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link

Introduction

The City of Winnipeg (City) is developing a soil fabrication program at Summit Landfill for use as landfill top cover. The soil fabrication program uses a mix of biosolids, woodchips, and street sweepings to produce soil that will help restore the landfill to a native prairie landscape. Following a successful pilot, the City plans to seek approval from provincial regulators in late 2020 to begin a long-term soil fabrication program in 2021.

We want Winnipeggers to learn about this waste diversion project that is creating a beautiful prairie area over a landfill and provide an opportunity to ask questions.


Background

The soil fabrication program is part of the multi-pronged approach developed as part of the City’s 2014 Biosolids Master Plan to beneficially use biosolids. The Biosolids Master Plan is a 30-year vision for how the City of Winnipeg will manage its biosolids in an environmentally sound, sustainable, and cost-effective manner, while meeting provincial regulations.

In 2018, the City began a three-year soil fabrication pilot project at Summit Landfill. The pilot program is exploring if soil fabrication is a long-term viable option to produce top cover at the Summit Landfill. The top cover will support vegetation growth and restore the landfill to a native prairie landscape. Some of the criteria that will help determine if the pilot program is successful include soil quality; vegetation growth; surface water, ground water, and odour impacts; winter viability; operational viability; and costs.

As the pilot program nears its end, the City is looking to transition the pilot program into a long-term operation and will seek provincial approval in fall 2020. The program requires an Environment Act Licence from the Province of Manitoba’s Environmental Approvals Branch.

The following components are being used to produce soil:

  • Biosolids – a nutrient-rich, solid by-product of wastewater treatment
  • Woodchips* – often from trees infected by Dutch Elm Disease and Emerald Ash Borer
  • Street sweepings – screened sand and grit mix

*Woodchips from infected trees are created safely under a provincial permit and comply with regulatory requirements

The benefits of the soil fabrication are:

  • Diverting biosolids, wood waste, and street sweepings from the landfill
  • Providing a winter use for biosolids when composting and land application are not viable
  • Providing a summer back-up use for biosolids if composting and land application are disrupted
  • Completing the Summit Landfill cap that will reduce water infiltration, erosion, and greenhouse gas emissions
  • Establishing native prairie habitat

Introduction

The City of Winnipeg (City) is developing a soil fabrication program at Summit Landfill for use as landfill top cover. The soil fabrication program uses a mix of biosolids, woodchips, and street sweepings to produce soil that will help restore the landfill to a native prairie landscape. Following a successful pilot, the City plans to seek approval from provincial regulators in late 2020 to begin a long-term soil fabrication program in 2021.

We want Winnipeggers to learn about this waste diversion project that is creating a beautiful prairie area over a landfill and provide an opportunity to ask questions.


Background

The soil fabrication program is part of the multi-pronged approach developed as part of the City’s 2014 Biosolids Master Plan to beneficially use biosolids. The Biosolids Master Plan is a 30-year vision for how the City of Winnipeg will manage its biosolids in an environmentally sound, sustainable, and cost-effective manner, while meeting provincial regulations.

In 2018, the City began a three-year soil fabrication pilot project at Summit Landfill. The pilot program is exploring if soil fabrication is a long-term viable option to produce top cover at the Summit Landfill. The top cover will support vegetation growth and restore the landfill to a native prairie landscape. Some of the criteria that will help determine if the pilot program is successful include soil quality; vegetation growth; surface water, ground water, and odour impacts; winter viability; operational viability; and costs.

As the pilot program nears its end, the City is looking to transition the pilot program into a long-term operation and will seek provincial approval in fall 2020. The program requires an Environment Act Licence from the Province of Manitoba’s Environmental Approvals Branch.

The following components are being used to produce soil:

  • Biosolids – a nutrient-rich, solid by-product of wastewater treatment
  • Woodchips* – often from trees infected by Dutch Elm Disease and Emerald Ash Borer
  • Street sweepings – screened sand and grit mix

*Woodchips from infected trees are created safely under a provincial permit and comply with regulatory requirements

The benefits of the soil fabrication are:

  • Diverting biosolids, wood waste, and street sweepings from the landfill
  • Providing a winter use for biosolids when composting and land application are not viable
  • Providing a summer back-up use for biosolids if composting and land application are disrupted
  • Completing the Summit Landfill cap that will reduce water infiltration, erosion, and greenhouse gas emissions
  • Establishing native prairie habitat
CLOSED: This discussion has concluded.

Have a question or comment about this project? Connect with the project team using the box below. We will aim to provide an answer in five business days.

  • Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link

    I believe it would be a great asistance to Winnipeggers if the City of Winnipeg plant shredding staff and equipment use were made to gardeners at harvest time so that their "waste" may be put back into the backyard gardens that help feed our most vulnerable.

    Anne asked about 2 months ago

    The City of Winnipeg collects yard waste from residents during the warmer weather months. The collected yard waste is processed into compost, which is used in City landscaping projects and given away to residents through our annual compost giveaway. For more information on the annual compost giveaway, please visit https://winnipeg.ca/waterandwaste/yardwaste/event.stm.

  • Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link

    Petroleum by-products: rubber, oil drippings, polluted tailpipe effluent, and more are all a part of your "street sweepings". Perhaps you should re-think this aspect of your soil re-generation to include cleaner biota.

    asked 4 months ago

    We appreciate your concern regarding the use of street sweepings in our soils. Quality and safety of our feedstocks for our soil recipe is a priority. The City has conducted lab and bench-scale tests to determine if street sweepings would be a safe and effective ingredient for our soil. The testing results suggest it is suitable, safe, and would help produce quality soil.  

    High soil quality is one of the key measures of success for the pilot program. For that reason, the City is testing the quality of finished soil, both before being applied and after it has been spread and vegetated. To date, the fabricated soil has met all the requirements for the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) Industrial Soils Guidelines, which are the criteria approved by Manitoba Conservation and Climate for this pilot program.  

  • Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link

    Can this project be used to prove the efficacy of starting city-wide composting for residents? It's time we join other major cities and start composting? The City of Winnipeg buys tons of dirt and soil every year, and we could offset collection costs by making our own soil, not to mention lower garbage collection and disposal (landfill) costs. Not to mention, could sell excess soil to residents and businesses, BIZs, etc.

    KG asked 5 months ago

    Unfortunately, this project will not be able to prove efficacy of a city-wide composting program as soil fabrication and composting are two different things and the materials they are comprised of are collected, transported and processed in different ways. Composting is a biological process that requires a carbon source (like woodchips) and a nitrogen source (like biosolids), but does not require a mineral source (street sweepings). Soil fabrication requires a mineral source and is a physical mixing process. Furthermore, compost is something that is added to soil and does not support sustained vegetation on its own, whereas fabricated soil can support vegetation.

    The City does, however, have several composting programs that help divert waste from the landfill.  We compost biosolids and use the material for cap improvements at the Brady Road Resource Management Facility (BRRMF).  We collect the leaf and yard waste from residents and compost what we collect.  The compost from this program is used in City parks, riverbank stabilization projects, cap improvements for closed landfills and landscaping at BRRMF.  It is also sold to large soil companies and given away to community gardens and to residents through the City’s annual compost giveaway.    

    In fall of 2020, the City will start a two-year residential food waste collection pilot project as part of our Organics Diversion Strategy. Please visit winnipeg.ca/organics for more information on the Organics Diversion Strategy, with more detailed information on the residential food collection pilot to come in summer 2020.

  • Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link

    What if seeking provincial approval in the fall for this undertaking isn’t approved?

    Walker asked 5 months ago

    In 2014 the City completed the Biosolids Master Plan, which recommends multiple strategies to beneficially reuse biosolids. The City is currently pursuing three beneficial reuse strategies for biosolids:

    • Land application
    • Soil fabrication
    • Composting

    If the City does not receive provincial approval to operate a long term soil fabrication program in 2021, the City can continue to beneficially reuse biosolids through its land application and composting programs. Biosolids will be landfilled during times the other beneficial use options are not available. 

  • Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link

    Isn’t even using some human poop (biosolids) a risky practice as it may contain disease-causing pathogens?

    Walker asked 5 months ago

    Using biosolids as a component in top cover for landfill has minimal risk to human health, provided all regulations are followed. The biosolids are treated at the treatment plant to reduce pathogens to levels accepted by the Province of Manitoba before it is mixed into a soil at the landfill site. Summit Landfill is being used as the site for soil fabrication in part because it is a closed landfill with controlled access. Additionally, there is surface water runoff containment and vector control so that human health and safety are protected. 

    The soil is not being used to grow food, and the potential risks are being minimized by:

    • Reducing pathogens at the treatment plant.
    • Restricting people’s access to the site.
    • Not having opportunities to touch the soil.
    • Not having opportunities to touch water that has contacted the soil.
    • Not having opportunities ingest the soil from food. 
  • Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link

    What in the Water Protection Act specifically stopped the spread of the biosolids on agriculture land? Why doesn’t it also apply to using biosolids in the stabilization of the riverbank too?

    Walker asked 5 months ago

    The regulation in January 2011 did not stop the spreading of biosolids, rather the regulations prohibited land application in winter and decreased the allowable application rate of biosolids to farmland in summer. The updated Water Protection Act (Manitoba) also states that the City of Winnipeg wastewater biosolids must be beneficially reused and nutrients must be recovered and recycled to the maximum extent possible. In response to these regulations the City did suspend its land application program and then adapted it to meet the new requirements. The City has since resumed spreading biosolids to farmland.

    The provincial regulations for spreading biosolids requires setbacks from water bodies such as riverbanks. This is to prevent biosolids runoff into water bodies, and protect rivers and Lake Winnipeg from algae blooms.