September 13, 2013 - 3:06am

Six months after signing a three-party agreement to manage biosolids in the region, the Regional District of Nanaimo (RDN), Vancouver Island University and SYLVIS Environmental have received special recognition in the Pacific Northwest.

The RDN, with representatives from VIU and SYLVIS, won the 2013 Excellence in Management of Biosolids Award at the Northwest Biosolids Management Association conference in Chelan, Washington September 9.

The three parties signed a contract last March that spells out how roughly 4,000 tonnes – or 450 dump truck loads - of biosolids produced annually at the RDN’s pollution control centres in Nanaimo and French Creek will be used for VIU’s Biosolids Fertilization Project.

“On behalf of the Excellence in Biosolids Award Review Panel, it is an honour to recognize members that have taken the initiative to not only comply with regulations but to invest in creating a truly superb program model for others to follow,” said Maile Lono-Batura, Executive Director of the Northwest Biosolids Management Association.

She added that the collective impact of the project managed by the RDN, in partnership with VIU and SYLVIS, demonstrates a “commitment to sustainability, environmental education and community involvement.”

Biosolids are nutrient-rich, humus-like materials that result from the treatment of liquid waste. They are high in organic content and contain nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorous which are vital to healthy and productive soil.

Once treated, biosolids are commonly used as fertilizer in sectors such as agriculture, landscaping, landfill closure, mine reclamation and forestry. In the RDN, 100 per cent of the biosolids produced in the region are trucked to VIU’s 1,700 hectare forest woodlot on Weigles Road in Nanaimo. The biosolids are applied to soil to enhance tree growth.

VIU researchers have reported a 50 to 400 per cent increase in tree growth at the woodlot site since the application of biosolids began.

Under the three-party agreement, SYLVIS assumes operational and qualified professional responsibilities for the application of biosolids at the woodlot. The university assumes a research focused role while the RDN remains as the biosolids generator.


VIU President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Ralph Nilson:

“The unique three-party partnership between VIU, the RDN and SYLVIS allows us to demonstrate to the community, and to other local governments, that the health of forests can be improved in an ecologically sustainable way. VIU is excited to be part of this innovative environmental solution.”

SYLVIS Environmental President Mike Van Ham:

“The Northwest Biosolids Management Association recognizes top achievement in beneficial biosolids management programs in the Pacific Northwest. SYLVIS is pleased to be part of such an innovative and sustainable program. The program is successful because of the partnership and collaboration between SYLVIS, RDN and VIU.”

RDN Board Chair Joe Stanhope:

“The success of the Forest Fertilization Project shows what can happen when organizations like ours collaborate to effect positive change. We are proud to be participating with VIU and SYLVIS Environmental in this beneficial biosolids management partnership agreement, and we hope that our program can serve as a model for other communities. Receiving the Excellence in Biosolids Award is a tremendous achievement for all involved—it is exciting for the RDN and its partners to be honoured by our peers in the biosolids management field.”

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ABOUT SYLVIS: SYLVIS is a leading Canadian environmental consulting firm providing a range of services including applied research, environmental monitoring and assessment, land reclamation and restoration, environmental policy and planning, and residuals recycling. For fifteen years SYLVIS has demonstrated environmental solutions through innovation and ability.

ABOUT VIU: Vancouver Island University is Canada’s west coast university. Known as a centre of excellence for teaching, learning and applied research, VIU offers a diverse range of certificate, diploma and undergraduate and master degree programs to more than 18,000 students on campuses in Nanaimo, Powell River and Cowichan, and at the Parksville-Qualicum Centre. For more information visit

ABOUT RDN: The Regional District of Nanaimo provides regional governance and services throughout Vancouver Island's beautiful central east coast. Communities within the regional federation include the municipalities of Nanaimo, Lantzville, Parksville, and Qualicum Beach, as well as seven unincorporated Electoral Areas. Established in 1967, the RDN is British Columbia's third most populous Regional District, of 28 throughout the province, and home to more than 140,000


Janina Stajic, Manager, Communications and Public Engagement, Vancouver Island University P: 250.740.6288 E: Twitter: @VIUNews

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