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Roles and Responsibilities

The land application of biosolids is regulated by two provincial ministries – the Ministry of the Environment (MOE) and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA). The regulations are strict and science-based to protect human and animal health, as well as the environment.

OMAFRA introduced the Nutrient Management Act in 2002. This Act governs the application of nutrients on agricultural lands and has various phase-in dates for agricultural and non-agricultural source materials. The Act - with its Regulation (O.Reg.267/03) and Protocols - will harmonize with the existing Guidelines for the Utilization of Biosolids and Other Wastes on Agricultural Lands, and the Waste Management Regulation of the Environmental Protection Act. The MOE enforces the regulations.

The MOE and OMAFRA are advised by the Biosolids Utilization Committee, which includes representatives from the Ontario Ministry of Health, Agri-Food Canada and Environment Canada. There are many other organizations, such as the Water Environment Association of Ontario, that are also involved in research that aims to provide more information on specific biosolids utilization issues.

Durham Region is the generator of the biosolids, which are land applied. In keeping with the mission statement, " to plan and provide safe and reliable wastewater treatment " and the vision of striving to do better, Durham Region's Biosolids Management Program has adopted best management practices, which exceed the existing regulations. Areas where the Region exceeds current regulatory requirements include biosolids quality, site mapping, biosolids application rates, and communications.


Durham Region, in accordance with MOE standards, also administers and enforces the Regional sewer-use bylaw, which includes regulating discharges to municipal sewers. There is an obvious and important connection between wastewater and the utilization of the biosolids produced by its treatment. The Region of Durham must ensure that only high-quality biosolids, which meet the criteria set out in the guidelines, are applied to agricultural lands.
The biosolids are regularly analyzed to ensure that they conform to provincial standards. Typically, Durham's biosolids are well below the limits on metals indicated for safe application.

Only farm fields that meet the regulatory requirements in terms of site location, soil quality, slope of the land, proposed crops to be planted, as well as separation distances from residences, wells and watercourses are submitted to the MOE for approval. Detailed records are kept of field locations, soil type, soil analysis, ownership information, proposed application rates, and actual nutrients applied. Durham Region monitors the spreading operations daily and uses GPS technology to verify application areas.