November 25, 2016
Vancouver, BC – Biosolids are a nutrient-rich product generated during municipal wastewater treatment. Many studies indicate that biosolids applied to nutrient-poor soil increase soil development rates, but limited long-term data exists to support benefits in BC.
Given that soil amendment by biosolids appears to have positive impacts on mine reclamation, it is important to carry out long-term studies examining the effects of biosolids application on the environment.
Funded in part by Genome British Columbia (Genome BC), a new research program between Metro Vancouver, Thompson Rivers University (TRU) and industrial partners will quantify long-term biosolids effects on plant and microbial communities, soil health and metal loading by re-sampling from undisturbed experimental plots established in 1998.
“The timing for the work proposed here is critical, as the areas may be actively mined in the near future,” says Dr. Jonathan Van Hamme, Associate Professor of Biological Sciences at TRU and project leader. “The funding available from Genome BC will be used to undertake a comprehensive microbial community analysis using genomic tools to monitor microbial gene expression related to metal toxicity and biologically mediated metal transformations at TRU.”
The project will undertake research to evaluate public attitudes and risk perceptions surrounding biosolids as a tool for land reclamation, and enable knowledge transfer of this information. Metro Vancouver has supplied biosolids to mines in the Interior since the mid-1990s and there are critical needs that will be addressed by this research to better understand long-term outcomes and potential impacts of using biosolids in BC.
“The outcome of the project will be helpful in understanding if the use of biosolids during long-term land reclamation is effective and safe and genomics will be key to help get that information,” says Dr. Catalina Lopez-Correa, Chief Scientific Officer and Vice President, Sector Development, at Genome BC. “Results from this work will inform biosolids use by other sectors and provide critical data to BC regulators and the public”.
This project, Long-term impacts of biosolids on soil microbial communities during mine tailings reclamation, is valued at over $190,000 and is funded through Genome BC’s User Partnership Program (UPP). For more information on Genome BC’s funding programs please click here.