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MMSD pushes for methane power

The Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District wants to use methane to power the furnaces it uses to create Milorganite at Jones Island.   The Daily Reporter File Photo by Sean Ryan

The Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District wants to use methane to power the furnaces it uses to create Milorganite at Jones Island. The Daily Reporter File Photo by Sean Ryan

Sean Ryan
sean.ryan@dailyreporter.com

The Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District is proposing a 17-mile methane gas pipeline to minimize effects on waterways and decrease permitting requirements.

The district wants to take methane gas generated at the Emerald Park Landfill in Muskego, pipe the gas to Jones Island in Milwaukee and burn it to power MMSD’s Milorganite production facility and, eventually, the entire MMSD water-treatment plant. The district wants to start construction on the project in the fall or winter but first needs a variety of Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources permits.

“We’ll do everything we can to minimize the impact on the environment of this project,” said MMSD Executive Director Kevin Schafer. “With directional drilling, if there’s a waterway we have to go under, we think we can minimize impacts.”

By drilling beneath waterways or wetlands, the district could eliminate the need for extensive environmental studies to get a DNR permit, said Ben Callan, DNR water management specialist.

“I wouldn’t anticipate them being able to do all of it without a permit,” he said, “but anything is possible.”

The preliminary plan calls for the pipeline to run north from the landfill along Loomis Road to Howard Avenue in Milwaukee, east along Howard and then north at Interstate 794 to Jones Island. The MMSD wants to build the gas pipeline within public rights of way, Shafer said, and to use underground boring machines instead of open trenching as much as possible to install the pipe.

The district wants to complete the pipeline and use the landfill methane by January 2011. By 2013, the district will install new turbines to burn the methane to generate enough electricity to power the water treatment plant at Jones Island, Schafer said.

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