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

14 Proposals Submitted for Manure Management Study

December 12, 2006
Joanne Haas, Office of the County Executive (608) 267-8823 or cell (608) 669-5606
County Executive

Dane County has received 14 bids to conduct a feasibility study in 2007 as part of Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk’s efforts to construct an energy-producing manure digester to help local farmers and to protect lakes and streams. “I am pleased to see the response to this worthwhile project to see how we can use manure as a valuable resource for revenue and energy,” Falk said. The bids will be analyzed and several will be interviewed with the goal of tapping a consultant sometime in January. The feasibility study is the next step in a process that began after winter liquid manure spills caused several fish kills and dumped phosphorus into Lake Mendota, prompting Falk and Lakes and Watershed Commission Chair Brett Hulsey to create a task force to study the risks of spreading liquid manure in the winter. “Winter spreading of liquid manure is an economic issue for farmers as well as an environmental one,” Falk said. “A digester could be a way for farmers to have storage of this product which would in turn become a useful resource instead of a potential, accidental disaster.” The special study group of farmers, environmentalists and County Board supervisors, created last year, recommended a feasibility study of an area digester be completed. Madison Gas and Electric, a utility partner in the effort, in November committed up to $30,000 to the County to help pay for the manure management feasibility study. The County also has earmarked $71,111 in non-tax funds for the study. “I thank Madison Gas and Electric for being a valuable and supportive teammate in this effort to help our agriculture economy and the farmers who make it so strong, as well as for the protection of our waters,” Falk said. Falk and the County Board agreed to expand by one seat the membership of the county’s advisory committee on the project to include a representative of the Madison-based utility. “This study will help us determine if manure digesters can work in the county,” Falk said. Manure digesters turn the manure into methane gas that can be burned to produce heat or electricity or converted into natural gas. “Dane County is a leader in the state’s agricultural economy, which is another reason why the digester is worth studying,” Falk said. “We have more than 2,500 farms in the county – more than 400 are dairy operations.” ###