Seal of Dane County County of Dane
County Executive's Office

County Executive Falk Announces Next Steps for Manure Digester

September 01, 2005
Lesley Sillaman, Office of the County Executive (608) 267-8823 or cell (608) 669-5606
County Executive

Madison – Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk and Dane County Supervisor and Chair of the Environmental, Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee Kyle Richmond today announced steps toward the construction of a manure digester to help farmers use manure to generate energy and prevent liquid manure spills that harm our lakes and streams. At the press conference Falk announced that the county has designated $71,111 in non-tax dollars toward a feasibility study for the construction of a manure digester. Manure digesters can provide three major positive impacts: · Helps protect clean water and fish · Produces energy · Provides fertilizer and bedding for farmers Digesters help farmers with an alternative and additional outlets to liquid manure spreading in the winter, which can result in harmful spills to lakes and streams. Also, manure digesters generate energy, in the form of methane gas, which can be burned to produce heat or electricity. The County first entertained the idea of a manure digester as a result of several significant liquid manure spills this past winter, resulting in several fish kills in the area and the depositing of between 2,400 pounds of phosphorous into Lake Mendota. In March, County Executive Falk and Lakes and Watershed Commission Chair Brett Hulsey appointed a task force comprised of area farmers, environmentalists and other County Board supervisors to evaluate the risks associated with winter spreading of liquid manure and make recommendations. One recommendation was to do a feasibility study of a digester. In addition, Richmond will introduce an accompanying board resolution at the County Board meeting Thursday evening and the Dane County Agriculture Advisory Council has reserved $20,000 for a feasibility study for manure digesters. “A manure digester could be of help to our area farmers, and is a positive step for all of us to protect out lakes and streams,” said Falk. “This money allows us to determine if manure digesters can work in Dane County, and if so, what are the best business models and locations for them.” "Manure digesters show promise at helping farmers come up with manure storage, capturing energy and utilizing manure as a resource rather than a nuisance," said Hulsey. "This proposal is loaded with potential, and not only to protect water resources and develop the local economy," Richmond said. "It's also got the potential to protect agricultural land, produce alternative energy, and cut transportation costs. It's a win for both rural and urban residents." The money comes from a payment to Dane County from the American Transmission Company (ATC) for a future transmission line project. Under state law, ATC is required to pay the county a one-time environmental impact fee in the amount of $71,111, which must be used for an environmental program. # # #