Master Plans & Class EAs

Biosolids Master Plan

Hamilton's Biosolids Master Plan (PDF, 1.5 MB) provides direction for the management of biosolids that are generated from the City’s wastewater treatment plants for the next 20 years and beyond. Biosolids are defined as a nutrient and organic byproduct of the wastewater treatment process. Currently, most of the biosolids are used as a soil amendment. In recent years, however, some biosolids have had to be landfilled due to limitations in soil availability.

The purpose of the Biosolids Master Plan is to:

  • Address current concerns, and to plan for the long-term sustainable management of biosolids at wastewater treatment plants.
  • Recommend thermal reduction for biosolids management and continue the use of digestion for energy production through co-generation.

Through a Master Planning approach under the Municipal Engineers Association’s (MEA) Municipal Class Environmental Assessment (Class EA) process, a long-term strategy for the environmentally sustainable, reliable, and cost-effective management of the City of Hamilton’s biosolids was identified.

The Master Planning approach included input from the City, stakeholders, the public, and the City’s consulting team. A City Technical Steering Committee (TSC) and a Stakeholder Advisory Committee (SAC), comprising a wide range of participants, were involved throughout the project. Two Public Information Centres were held during the project to solicit public input into the decision making process.

Currently, the City contracts the disposal of its biosolids, which are a product of wastewater treatmentafter stabilization and dewatering, by way of land application through a contractor. Increasingly stringentregulations and limitations in land availability at critical times have negatively influenced the sustainability of the land application approach. Periodically, limitations in the ability to land apply the biosolids results in long term storage or landfilling of the biosolids.

A review of a long list of alternatives was completed using background documents provided to the TSC andSAC together with formal evaluation criteria. The short listed alternatives that were selected through thisevaluation included increased biosolids stabilization and/or thermal oxidation (incineration). A further review of the short- listed alternatives was completed. Through a rigorous evaluation of these alternatives, it was concluded that thermal oxidation/reduction (incineration) of the biosolids was the preferred alternative for the long term planning period. This management alternative was recommended together with continued biosolids stabilization using anaerobic digestion and cogeneration of heat and electrical power usingby-product methane gas prior to the dewatering and thermal oxidation process. This recommendation met the objectives set out for the Master Plan.

This Master Plan Report summarizes the planning approach, the evaluation of alternatives, the recommendations made, and the cost implications.