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Dane County budget includes $3M to plan for community manure plant

By: Ethan Duran//September 28, 2022//

Dane County budget includes $3M to plan for community manure plant

By: Ethan Duran//September 28, 2022//

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Dane County Executive Joe Parisi announced $3 million would be set aside in his 2023 budget for a potential manure processing facility. (Photo courtesy of Dane County)

The Dane County executive’s 2023 budget will include $3 million to acquire a site for a potential manure plant, county officials announced Tuesday. The facility would reduce phosphorus runoff, keep local lakes clean and benefit the climate, according to plans.

Dane County Executive Joe Parisi asked the county’s Department of Land and Water Resources to determine how much manure such a facility could process with the budget, county officials said. Officials wanted the department to find out if the manure could be converted into renewable energy also.

The county has a goal to process manure from two-thirds of the animals in the Mendota watershed, or 400 million gallons of manure yearly from about 40,000 cows treated at several facilities. Two digesters already exist outside of Middleton and Waunakee.

County officials want to enter manure spread during winter months to reduce phosphorus load in local lakes, which can cause algae to bloom and green slime to occur. The heaviest phosphorus loading in the Mendota watershed happens from January to March, officials added.

Treating manure in Dane County is part of goals laid out by a coalition that includes the Clean Lakes Alliance, Dane County, Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin and the Dane County Cities & Villages Association.

If the manure of 30,000 cows was treated, it would reduce methane emissions by the equivalent of more than 100,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide, county officials said. The carbon dioxide reduction is comparable to removing emissions of people driving 255 million miles annually or stopping 10 million gallons of gasoline from being burned every year, officials added.

“We have done a lot over the past decade to address the root cause of excessive algae growth in the Yahara Chain of Lakes. Yet, as our community has stepped up phosphorus reduction and containment efforts, climate change rains have become even more frequent,” Parisi said in a statement. “We need a grander scale solution to address this challenge if we want to reach our phosphorus runoff reduction goals. I believe Dane County can and should play a leading role in this work. That’s why my 2023 budget includes $3 million to fund this study and find a site for potential development.”


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