Manure processing plant a possibility to keep Dane Co. lakes clean

Dane County leaders will look into developing a manure processing plant in order to keep area lakes clean by reducing phosphorous runoff.
Published: Sep. 27, 2022 at 3:12 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 27, 2022 at 5:27 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Dane County leaders will look into developing a manure processing plant in order to keep area lakes clean by reducing phosphorous runoff.

County Executive Joe Parisi and clean lakes advocates announced that the 2023 budget will include $3 million for a feasibility study into opening a commercial grade, community-wide processing plant and include funding for a potential development site.

The funding would allow the county Department of Land and Water Resources to determine how much manure could be processed, the environmental benefits and the financial benefits of having manure be transported to one central location. Parisi said it would also offer the opportunity for smaller producers to help manage animal waste streams that they may not otherwise be able to afford.

County Executive Joe Parisi and clean lakes advocates announced that the 2023 budget will...
County Executive Joe Parisi and clean lakes advocates announced that the 2023 budget will include $3 million for a feasibility study into opening a commercial grade, community-wide processing plant and include funding for a potential development site.(Dane County)

Parisi pointed out that Dane County is one of the top counties in the nation for milk and commodity production. Manure spread on frozen land can create a phosphorous runoff, which can cause algae blooms and green slime to form in lakes. Officials argued that society already has ways to manage human waste at a community-wide scale, so the same principles should be applied to animal waste.

“We need a grander scale solution to address this challenge if we want to reach our phosphorus runoff reduction goals,” Parisi said. “I believe Dane County can and should play a leading a role in this work.”

Two digesters to help farmers manage manure in the North Mendota Watershed, one near Middleton and the other near Waunakee, were created with help from Dane County almost 15 years ago. Between these two and a new plant, Dane County hopes to process manure from two-thirds of animals in the Mendota watershed. This would result in about 400 million gallons of manure each year from about 40,000 cows being treated.

Dane Co. officials added that a plant that treats the manure of 30,000 cows would reduce methane emissions by more than 100,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide, which is comparable to getting rid of the emissions from nearly 255,000,000 miles driven by passenger vehicles.