September 16, 2020. On Sept. 15, Dane County Executive Joe Parisi joined representatives from AQUA Innovations and GL Dairy Biogas LLC, along with three local dairy producers to cut the ribbon on cutting-edge technology that turns cow manure from area farms into drinkable water. This community nutrient concentration system (NCS) is believed to be the first in the United States and is part of Dane County’s ongoing effort to clean up area lakes and expand its renewable natural gas (RNG) network among local farms.
The $1.6 million project, which has been years in the making, is located in Springfield, Wisconsin, and is receiving digested manure from GL Dairy Biogas LLC. The nutrient concentration system cleans manure through a series of ultrafiltration and reverse osmosis filters before discharging the remaining clean water into Pheasant Branch Creek. Nutrients, including phosphorus, are removed from the manure, concentrated, and stored for later use as a fertilizer for growing crops.
“By partnering with farmers and industry leaders, we are able to explore new technologies to manage manure while improving farmers’ bottom line and protecting our local water resources,” Parisi said. “In order to continue to make progress toward our water quality goals, we need to address these challenges head on as a community.”
In 2018, Dane County was home to about 250 dairy farms with 55,000 dairy cows. Those cows produce around 300 million gallons of manure each year. It’s estimated that farmers spend more than $3.5 million annually on hauling and applying manure in Dane County alone.
Dane County has also supported the creation of a manure digester in the Waunakee area. This digester collects manure from three local farms and separates solids from the digested liquids for use as nutrients for crops. Methane gas generated at this facility is collected, cleaned, and transported to Dane County’s Landfill Offloading Station, where it is sold as renewable natural gas (RNG) and put into the interstate transmission pipeline so it can be used as fuel to power fleets of RNG vehicles across the United States.