Assessment of Carbon Sequestration in Biosolids Land Application

PDF version
Metro Vancouver

Carbon sequestration with biosolids management could help municipalities meet greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction goals.  SYLVIS consulted the scientific literature and orchestrated targeted field sampling of historic biosolids application sites to determine the potential for carbon storage in different land contexts.

Many British Columbia (BC) municipalities have signed the BC Climate Action Charter, committing to reduce GHG emissions as the result of routine operations.  Metro Vancouver is seeking methods of reducing its carbon footprint, including reducing energy consumption as well as seeking internal mechanisms for offsetting emissions.  Biosolids use in land application has great potential to encourage carbon gains in both soil and biomass.  However the impact of biosolids on land-based carbon storage in the context of Metro Vancouver’s historic biosolids management program had never before been gauged.

SYLVIS was retained to evaluate the reported scientific literature on landscape-level carbon storage changes with biosolids application, focusing on land-use types representative of the diversity of Metro Vancouver’s historic land application activities since the 1990s.  After summarizing results from the literature, SYLVIS ran its own verification by organizing targeted soil and biomass sampling of several different sites under long-term management with Metro Vancouver biosolids.  Results from field sampling of historic biosolids sites were used to corroborate the generalized values from the literature with real-world results.

Historic biosolids applications showed positive long-term carbon storage increases in several land-use contexts.  On the basis of these results, further studies were launched by Metro Vancouver to develop carbon storage tracking techniques and investigate the scope for carbon offset generation through land-based biosolids management activities.

SYLVIS’s ongoing work with Metro Vancouver in the field of carbon sequestration is helping Metro Vancouver stay abreast of the complicated and emerging field of GHG inventorying and mitigation.  We translate our ability to keep up with the cutting edge of research into advantages for our clients.