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Some Alberta farmers to receive compensation from the City of Red Deer

Some Alberta farmers to receive compensation from the City of Red Deer

Red Deer may have to spread treated human waste on cropland

By Diego Flammini
News Reporter

The City of Red Deer is going to pay some Central Alberta farmers not to produce crops on some land this growing season.

The sewage levels in six storage lagoons – which span the size of about six football fields – are rising. To prevent an overflow, the City is looking to spread treated human waste on some fields.

On Monday, City council approved a budget of $1 million over two years to compensate farmers for taking their land out of crop rotation to accommodate the solid wastes, which contain soil nutrients.

Some farmers could benefit from the waste program, according to Ken Johnston, a member of Red Deer city council.

“We’d be paying for a field to be out of production,” he told today. “That can work for many farmers depending on the scale of their operations.”

Spreading treated waste on farmers’ fields isn’t a new practice but one that needs to be done to prevent lagoon levels from getting too high.

This practice “has occurred in one form or another for about 25 years,” Johnston said. “We find ourselves in a situation where weather conditions have conspired against us and that’s what caused the backup (in the lagoons). We’re not in a critical stage, but we’ve been told we need to take action.”

The program is voluntary, and the City will contract the deliveries with an independent trucking company.

Any farmers interested in participating can contact the City of Red Deer for more information.

Not all councillors were in favour of the decision, as some individuals questioned why farmers should be paid for a product that’s good for their land, according to the Red Deer Advocate.

And Alberta Environment must issue permits for spreading waste, said Michael Dawe, a councillor who sat on the regional waste water commission, according to the Red Deer Advocate.

Top photo: Ken Johnston