A view of the logged slope at the Turtle Valley Bison Ranch where a mix of biosolids and soil will be applied to make terraced surfaces for growing animal feed. (Jim Elliot/Salmon Arm Observer)

Bison ranch owners weigh in on biosolids controversy

Plan in place to make a logged slope suitable for planting by applying treated sewer sludge

The owners of a Shuswap ranch where a controversial biosolids application is planned want to assure those who have been protesting the project that the health of the environment is not being ignored.

Conrad and Nikki Schiebel, the owners of the Turtle Valley Bison Ranch, say they hope further information will convince their neighbours who are protesting and those who have vandalized their property to stand down. The Schiebels said concern for the health of the watershed, their livestock and other environmental concerns were taken into account when accepting the biosolids onto their property.

Biosolids are treated sewage sludge which can be added to soil. The biosolids being applied to the Turtle Valley Bison Ranch originate from Kamloops. The goal of the application on the ranch is to turn a recently-logged slope into usable farmland.

Read More: Letter: Arrow Transportation, Turtle Valley Bison Ranch respond to biosolids concerns

Read More: Court decision allows biosolids trucks to roll into Turtle Valley

Before being trucked to the ranch, the biosolids are mixed with wood chips by Arrow Environmental. The Schiebels said the trucks offload the biosolids into an area enclosed by an earthwork berm where it is mixed with soil from the slope using backhoes. They said the plan is to use the mixed soil to create farm-able terraced land on the slope. The mixed soil will be nine per cent biosolids.

Conrad said the application of the manufactured soil will give them an additional 70 acres of usable land for growing feed for the bison.

Concerns expressed by those who oppose the application of the biosolids include the contamination of nearby Chum Lake and Chum Creek, and groundwater beneath the area where the biosolids will be applied. Conrad noted the ranch draws water from Chum Lake for irrigation.

The Schiebels said a professional agrologist is overseeing the project and testing the biosolids and soil mixture to ensure it meets the concentration specified in a project plan. Information on the Biosolid Land Application at the ranch posted on the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy’s website states that a professional overseeing the application has implemented a setback of 60 metres from Chum Creek and 100 metres from Chum Lake, which is over and above the 30 metres specified in B.C.’s Organic Matter Recycling Regulations.

Read More: Letter: Biosolids plan poses risk to lake, creeks and river

Read More: Effectiveness of human waste as fertilizer examined during community meeting

Nikki said they attempted to drill a well on the slope where the biosolids application is planned and the hole went 450 feet deep without reaching water.

After selectively logging the slope to deal with dead trees and to create a fire guard for the rest of the ranch’s property, the Schiebels said it was their intention to plant on the slope to grow feed and to mitigate possible slope stability and runoff issues created by the logging. They found the soil on the slope poor.

The Schiebels said they were initially wary when Arrow approached them with the biosolids plan. Nikki said a look at evidence compiled by scientists who study soil and water changed their minds.

Nikki said her research into the topic has satisfied her that the concentrations of biosolids are small enough that there is no threat to human health.

The ranch’s property has been the subject of vandalism since the biosolids debate began . A sign for the ranch was defaced with profanity, an RV was shot with a paintball gun and most recently broken glass was thrown into the yard of one of the houses on the property.

Along with the protest which has been obstructing truck access to their property which the Schiebels say is well intentioned, the property has been the subject of vandalism. A sign for the Bison Ranch was defaced with profanity, an RV on the property was shot with a paintball gun and most recently broken glass was thrown into the yard of one of the houses.


@SalmonArm
jim.elliot@saobserver.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Just Posted

Rain in Sunday forecast for Okanagan-Shuswap

Environment Canada calling for 15-20 millimetres in regions

Severe thunderstorm watch in effect for Okanagan, Shuswap

Environment Canada is forecasting strong wind gusts, large hail and heavy downpours in parts of the Interior

WorkSafe BC conducted 70 inspections in the Okanagan amid B.C.’s reopening plan

WorkSafe BC has conducted 100 inspections at restaurants across the province since May 19

City hall refurbishment comes in nearly $500,000 over budget

Revelstoke City Council voted unanimously to move forward despite the increased cost

Williamson Lake to open June 1

The park will be open for day use as well as camping

VIDEO: Injured bald eagle rescued in B.C. First Nations community

Bird suspected injured in fight, whisked off to Coquitlam rehab

Toronto Raptors’ Ujiri says conversations about racism can no longer be avoided

Thousands have protested Floyd’s death and repeated police killings of black men across the United States

‘I’m afraid’: Witnesses of wolf attack on senior near Prince Rupert worried about safety

Frank Russ shows where the unprovoked wolf attacked his father

Protesters prepare to rally against racism in front of Vancouver Art Gallery

Rally is in response to the deaths of black Americans and a Toronto woman

PHOTOS: Okanagan residents capture epic lightning show

A look at some of the best shots of the storm on May 30

Big White Ski Resort to offer rebate for pass holders after early closure

Next year’s pass will include a 20 per cent rebate

‘No tick is a good tick’: Canadian Lyme Disease Foundation

The foundation’s president said all ticks that attach to humans and pets can carry various diseases

Protesters rally against anti-black, Indigenous racism in Toronto

Police estimated the crowd to be between 3,500 and 4,000 and said there was no violence

Most Read