To the editor: Biogas as a solution

Kudos to The Blade’s Tom Henry for writing about local water issues for several decades.

Sun, 09 Aug 2020 04:00:00 GMT

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Kudos to The Blade’s Tom Henry for writing about local water issues for several decades, providing information about regional environmental factors and how these affect recreation, aesthetics, economy, and public health. He has also highlighted the work of regional environmental groups, including those brave enough to take legal action against violations of the Clean Water Act — a federal document meant to provide us with drinkable, swimmable, fishable waters.

Those “waters” include the 8,000 square-mile Maumee River watershed — the largest in the entire Great Lakes Basin. Our watershed is 66 percent agricultural and hosts nearly 800 confined animal feeding operations which create an estimated 90 percent of the phosphate and nitrate pollution responsible for the “pea soup” factor of the Western Lake Erie Basin and makes our residential water more expensive to process.

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Because we Water Drinkers of the Western Lake Erie Basin don’t want to alienate the folks who provide us with food, let’s offer the Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation club a suggestion: biodigestion — a high-tech version of anaerobic composting that can provide a sterilized fertilizer, methane used to fuel the biodigester machinery, and water — all marketable in the region.

In 2012, Campbell’s Napoleon plant built Ohio’s first commercial biogas power plant to generate electricity, diverting waste from soup and sauce production from Henry County landfills. The anaerobic digester processes material from area food industries, waste recyclers, and local dairy farms, generating methane gas that is used to fuel turbines that produce energy for Campbell’s food production, offsetting fossil fuel use.

According to the American Biogas Council, the United States has more than 2,200 sites producing biogas in all 50 states: 250 anaerobic digesters on farms, 1,269 water-resource recovery facilities using an anaerobic digester, 66 stand-alone systems that digest food waste, and 652 landfill gas projects.

Why not several more in the Maumee River watershed? Consider the electricity, heat, and other “recoverables” that 6 million (annual) tons of CAFO manure can produce.


West Toledo