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New Middleton plant turns cow manure into clean water

FILE - Cows on pasture at the University of Vermont dairy farm eat hay in a Thursday, July 23, 2020 file photo, in Burlington, Vt. (AP Photo/Lisa Rathk, Filee)
FILE - Cows on pasture at the University of Vermont dairy farm eat hay in a Thursday, July 23, 2020 file photo, in Burlington, Vt. (AP Photo/Lisa Rathk, Filee)(Lisa Rathke | AP)
Published: Sep. 15, 2020 at 12:00 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 17, 2020 at 8:22 AM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - A new $1.6 million facility in the Town of Springfield plans to leverage cutting-edge technology to turn cow manure into clean water. The Nutrient Concentration System is believed to be the first of its kind in the U.S.

AQUA Innovations and local dairy farmers held a ribbon cutting on Tuesday to celebrate the facility’s opening.

Dane Co. Executive Joe Parisi joined them for the celebration. County officials hope the new plant will help clean up area lakes. It is also expected to expand the natural gas network for local farms.

“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 its description of the purification process, the county explained the facility will receive the digested manure from GL Dairy Biogas, LLC, and run it through a series of ultrafiltration systems and osmosis filters before dumping the water into Pheasant Branch Creek. The filtration process is designed to remove phosphorus and other nutrients from the manure, which can then be stored and used later as fertilizer.

AQUA Innovations CEO John Sorenson said the plant is expected to generate millions of gallons of drinkable water to the watershed and improve the business model for the dairy industry.

“We appreciate Dane County’s commitment to projects like this and we look forward to bringing the AQUA Innovations solution to other dairy farms and communities in Dane County and beyond,” he said.

According to Dane Co. statistics, the county is home to 55,000 dairy cows spread across 250 dairy farms. They produce 300 millions of gallons of manure every year and spend an estimated $3.5 million disposing of it.

clarification: The original version of this story placed the facility in Middleton. It has since been updated to place it in the Town of Springfield.

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