This diagram illustrates the process called phytoremediation whereby raw sewage could be reprocessed over time in a forest setting. Graphic courtesy of the U.S. EPS

A Sturgeon County forester near St. Albert, Alberta, hopes local governments will support his plan for a new RV park near Namao – one that will use trees to treat sewage.

The county council held a public hearing last week on a proposal to allow an RV park to be built in a conservation woodlot about five miles east of Namao by Hwy. 37, the St. Albert Gazette reported.

The site is currently home to about 125,000 trees, said site owner Kent Lamoureux in an interview, as well as ongoing experiments by the Canadian Forestry Service.

The proposal, dubbed “Poplar Woods Park,” would see a 30-lot RV park built on a portion of the 145-acre site. It would include a trail network, surveillance cabin and store, and be used for camping, survival training and paintballing.

It would also have a phytoremediation system to treat sewage from the RVs. “Phytoremediation is taking wastewater and turning it into irrigation water,” Lamoureux said. “I’m dealing with my own manure.”

Lamoureux plans to treat up to 450 gallons of sewage per day from the RVs and run it through a fenced-off part of the forest. The trees will absorb excess nutrients from the water before releasing it back to the atmosphere.

“Phytoremediation completes the cycle,” he said. “We can take your manure (waste) and turn it into more biomass (energy).” This would be one of the first such systems in the province once it gets running, he noted.

Councilman Ken McGillis noted that this project faces a big “landmine” in the form of Alberta Transportation, which could call for expensive intersection upgrades to Hwy. 37 at this site.

The site’s intersection is already overburdened with traffic, Lamoureux said, and he’ll have to do a traffic impact assessment to figure out how to fix the problem. “We can’t do anything until the highway issue is resolved.” Still, he hoped to get the necessary land-use changes out of the way as he worked out a solution with the province.

The council will consider second reading for the project later this summer.