Septage, Sludge and Biosolids

What is septage?

Septage is material removed from a septic tank.  Septic tanks should be cleaned as needed (every 3 to 5 years) using a Licensed Pumper.  Licensed Pumpers are required to haul this material to an approved facility for processing and treatment. Charlottetown or Summerside both have approved disposal facilities.

What are sludge and biosolids?

Sludge is the semi-liquid material removed from wastewater treatment systems.  It is the end product of the treatment process.  Sludge can be aerated, digested, heat treated, or pasteurized to produce biosolids that can be applied to land as a soil amendment. Standards used to assess the quality of biosolids are listed in Appendix G of the Atlantic Canada Wastewater Guidelines Manual for Collection, Treatment, and Disposal [3.3 Mb]. 

Do I need approval to apply biosolids as a soil amendment?

Yes, but the approval depends upon the type of wastewater treatment system the biosolids originate from. 

  • Passive systems such as lagoons allow sludge to settle to the bottom of the lagoon.  These systems need to have the cells cleaned out every 15 to 20 years.  Over time the sludge breaks down and converts to biosolids that can be used as a soil amendment.  These types of products require the owner to obtain a Certificate of Approval (COA) prior to applying the material to land. 
  • Mechanical treatment plants require routine removal of sludge so that the systems can operate properly. The frequency of removal depends on the wastewater treatment plant design but can range from daily to four times per year.  These systems operate under an biosolids plan and must be physically managed by a Licensed Pumper.  

Who can I contact for more information?

Morley Foy, P.Eng (Approvals & Compliance Engineer)
4th Floor, Jones Building(link is external)
11 Kent Street
Charlottetown, PEI C1A 7N8
Telephone: (902) 368-5036
Fax: (902) 368-5830
Email: sends e-mail)

Published date: 
July 12, 2016
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General Inquiries

Department of Communities, Land and Environment
4th Floor, Jones Building
11 Kent Street
PO Box 2000
Charlottetown, PE C1A 7N8

Phone: (902) 368-5044
Toll-free: 1-866-368-5044
Fax: (902) 368-5830