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

Manure Digester Gets Green Light

December 20, 2013
County Board Chair John Hendrick, 608.446.4842
County Board

Manure Digester Gets Green Light

County Board Reassured New Digester Will Have Adequate Safety Measures;

Board Also Approves Sale of Pavilion Naming Rights at Alliant Energy Center


After a two-week delay to revisit safety issues in the wake of a manure digester spill in the Town of Vienna near Waunakee, the Dane County Board gave the go-ahead for a new digester to be built at Menasha River Dairy in the Town of Bristol.


The new digester will have safety features that will prevent a spill, County planning and development director Todd Violante told the Board. Multiple pressure sensors will alert operators to potential leaks, and an alarm will sound if the contents of the main tank drops more than four inches at a time. Additionally, the entire digester will be contained within a constructed berm.


““If there is a leak, it will be contained and will not be able to flow off the site and down into neighboring property,” Violante said. ““It’s noteworthy and different that there’s only one family providing the manure to the site. All of it is going to be contained on the site.”


Violante added that one full-time employee will monitor and maintain the digester, and that the site is a family farm with someone on site nearly all the time.


“I am very comfortable with the safety measures,” said Supervisor Mary Kolar. “I ask people to consider that this is a means of energy production. Energy will be produced by a waste product. The digesters keep the phosphorous out of our lakes.”


Violante said the 35,000 gallons of manure  produced every day by Menasha River Dairy’s 1,700 cows could generate enough electricity to power 633 homes.


In other business, the County Board approved a financing plan to renovate the pavilions at the Alliant Energy Center. The Board voted to accept $9 million from the State of Wisconsin and $4.5 million from the private sector, including $1.5 million from CNH America, LLC for naming rights of the pavilion, which will now be known as the New Holland Pavilion. The 20-year naming rights will also include advertising and display space on site and access to use the pavilion without additional charge for 20 days per year.


The County Board also approved a plan for a new county park in the Town of Oregon, adjacent to the Village of Oregon, on 127 acres purchased from  the family of farmer and long time County Board member Lyman Anderson. The new Anderson Farm County Park will include a dog park, a market farm and farm learning area, various trails, a cooperative use area for athletic fields and a group camp.


Volunteers have already begun clearing trees on the site of what will be a significant county park. While the initial footprint covers 127 acres, the County has options to purchase 200 additional acres, and the plan approved by the Board covers more than 300 acres.


“This will be an asset to the whole county, but especially for the residents of the Oregon area,” said Supervisor Jerome Bollig, who represents Oregon. “It’s very exciting for the families in my community and communities across the county. I think it’ll be a destination kind of park.”


The County Board also approved a resurfacing of County Trunk MM in the City of Fitchburg, with the City of Fitchburg contributing $70,000 of the $210,000 total cost of the project.


The approval comes after the City of Fitchburg initially refused to contribute to the project, sparking contentious debate in the County Board.


“10,000 cars a day use this section of road. It’s a safety hazard that will become worse,” Bollig said on August 15, arguing that the County should bear the entire cost, despite state law that would normally obligate the City of Fitchburg to contribute. Bollig said many of his constituents use that section of County Road MM to commute to work in Madison.


But others said the County shouldn’t let Fitchburg off the hook.


“We need to send a message to Fitchburg. Honor your obligations,” said Supervisor Ronn Ferrell on August 15.


The ultimate approval of a cost-sharing agreement represents a win for his district, Bollig said last night.


“I would like to thank everyone who made this possible for everyone in my district,” he said. “This will solve a critical safety issue. I hope work can get underway soon.”



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