Dane County moves ahead on manure digester in Vienna

Friday, June 25, 2010

Two digesters - hi res
A Clear Horizons built electricity-generating anaerobic manure digesters drew attention from visitors to the 2009Farm Technology Days at the Crave Brothers Farm near Waterloo last summer.

From an article by Devin Rose in the Wisconsin State Journal:

Dane County’s first community manure digester, with the potential to generate electricity and reduce lake pollution, was approved Thursday by the County Board.

The $12 million digester will use bacteria to turn cow manure supplied by three town of Vienna farms into methane gas, fiber and a liquid fertilizer. The methane is burned and expected to generate $2 million worth of electricity every year, and the fiber can be used as cow bedding.

Algae-producing phosphorus is the biggest cause of pollution in the Yahara Lakes watershed, said Josh Wescott, spokesman for County Executive Kathleen Falk, in a release. The digester will use advanced separation technology to remove up to 70 percent of the phosphorus from the manure. It will also reduce odor problems and lessen the need to spread manure on distant fields, which generates environmental problems, Wescott said.

Milwaukee-based Clear Horizons will own, operate, and partially finance the digester. The County Board also approved issuing $6 million in bonds through a federal stimulus program, and the state will contribute another $3.3 million toward the project. The state also included $6.6 million in its last budget for this and another digester planned near Middleton. Wescott said he and other officials are still working with farmers there.