Several years ago, the Ministry of the Environment announced, with great fanfare, that it was banning the spreading of untreated septage (human waste from septic tanks, holding tanks and portable toilets). Unfortunately, it proved easier to announce the ban than to find disposal sites for all of Ontario’s septage. Many municipal sewage treatment plants are at capacity and unwilling to accept large volumes of septage. And while honey wagons may seem unromantic, many Ontario residents depend upon them.
The ministry has now announced a new proposal to develop treatment standards and new technologies for honey wagon waste.In essence, the ministry will allow septage to be spread on agricultural land provided that it is first screened (to remove plastics etc.) and treated with alkali (such as lime). They also want to put limits on metal content, and to better match the nutrient content of septage with the intended crop. Finally, they are willing to allow haulers to drain the liquid portion of septage into some agricultural land, if the solids are hauled away afterwards.
The proposal is posted at EBR 010 – 0366 and is open for comment until October 23, 2008. It’s a reasonable solution to a pressing problem.