Ottawa city council has voted against spreading treated sewage, or bio-solids, on area farmlands.

Politicians debated the issue for more than two hours Wednesday. They disagreed over the fundamentals, about whether bio-solids harm the environment, or help local farmers fertilize their fields.

Councillor Diane Deans objects to the term "bio-solids", which is the solid waste left over from sewage treatment plants.

Instead, she calls that material a "potpourri of toxins."

"Why are we calling it bio-solids and not what it is? Because there would be an outcry from people who don't want it spread a mile wide and an inch deep on their farmers' fields, getting into their food supply, or the environment. They would rather have it contained," said Deans.

Even though the health department says the substance does not endanger human health, city politicians want staff to study other options, such as composting or putting the material in landfills.

Council's decision means that the city won't distribute bio-solids produced at its facilities, but it will not prevent individual farmers from using it.