A major victory for water quality, clean energy in Dane County

MADISON β€” Today Governor Jim Doyle announced financial support for the construction of two anaerobic manure digesters to be located in northern Dane County, including Waunakee and Middleton. This is a major victory for water quality and clean energy in Dane County.

Doyle was joined by Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk, who proposed the idea of manure digesters several years ago. He is proposing $6.6 million in his capital budget to help fund the project.

“Digesters that turn cow manure into energy and remove phosphorus from the waste stream will protect Dane County’s lakes and help area farmers by turning a pollution problem into an energy solution. Farmers, anglers, and recreational users of Dane County’s lakes, and the regional economy as a whole come out ahead in this win-win-win scenario. We applaud Governor Jim Doyle and Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk for this visionary, clean investment in our economy, energy future and environment,” says Mark Redsten, Executive Director of Clean Wisconsin.

These manure digesters provide three major positive impacts for Dane County:

  • Helps protect clean water and fish by removing phosphorous, the primary pollutant responsible for algae growth
  • Produces clean, renewable and homegrown energy
  • Provides fertilizer and bedding for farmers

In a county where lakes are prized but under constant threat, these manure digesters are vital. In fact, research from UW-Madison has shown that the biggest source of nutrients entering the Dane County lakes is livestock manure. Cleaner water supports higher waterfront property values, improved opportunities for safe fishing and recreation, and a greater quality of life.

This manure digester will also provide farmers with better options than spreading liquid manure in the winter. Spreading manure on frozen ground can result in harmful spills to lakes and streams and massive fish kills. Manure digesters also generate energy in the form of methane gas, which can be burned as clean energy to produce heat or electricity.

“Using electricity produced from manure and food wastes in Wisconsin will reduce our dependence on dirty coal and keep our energy dollars right here in the state,” says Peter Taglia, P.G., Staff Scientist at Clean Wisconsin. “Kick-starting the digester market in Dane County will open up even more opportunities for expanding the production of clean, local energy instead of importing dirty, out-of-state coal.”

In his announcement today, the governor also noted that the digesters would eliminate an estimated 8,000 to 20,000 pounds of phosphorous per year per community digester from the Lake Mendota watershed; reduce 12,000 tons of greenhouse gases each year per community digester; generate $900,000 in annual revenue from renewable energy that will be produced by each digester; and create new jobs.