County: Turning manure into drinkable water will help clean lakes

County: Turning manure into drinkable water will help clean lakes

A new system to eliminate phosphorus from cow manure while turning the manure into water clean enough to drink is expected to be installed in Dane County, according to a release.

One pound of phosphorus is powerful enough to grow 500 pounds of toxic algae, officials said. Manure contains phosphorus, and due to Dane County’s large family farm economy, phosphorus reduction is important to the clean lakes effort.

The new technology is able to remove nearly 100 percent of the phosphorus, which means less phosphorus-filled manure and digester byproduct being spread on fields that could produce runoff in the Yahara watershed, officials said.

Dane County Executive Parisi has included $500,000 in next year’s budget to pay for construction of a facility to house the technology, according to the release. Funding for the technology and nutrient concentration system were approved in the county executive’s prior budgets. Depending on a final decision, it will all cost an estimated $1.3 million.

If the funding is approved, construction of the new technology could start as early as 2016, officials said. Pending county board approval of the Aqua Innovations contract, the system would be activated in 2016 and start purifying the manure byproduct of digestion process.

County officials selected Aqua Innovations, of Beloit, to install the manure treatment system at the Cow Power digester just outside of Middleton. The Cow Power digester is owned by Gundersen Health System.

The 2016 county budget also includes funding to study the feasibility of developing a similar system at the site of the Waunakee Digester.