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|03-22-03: Manure plant study still in limbo
|By TIMOTHY COX
The Daily Standard
Wabash Watershed Alliance (WWA) officials still are interested in
pursuing a feasibility study to look at a potential biomass electric plant that would burn
livestock manure, but the study is not any closer to fruition than when it first was
discussed a month ago.
Alliance Coordinator Lance Schwarzkopf said he did not proceed with a
plan to seek a grant to pay for half of the study. After further investigation,
Schwarzkopf said he did not believe the grant opportunity was worth the alliance's time
and expense. Instead, alliance officials now plan to pursue a second grant to help fund
The $10,000 Ohio Department of Development grant would have provided
$10,000 - about half of the cost of a comprehensive study. Schwarzkopf would have needed
to spend abut two weeks compiling the grant application.
"As we started looking into it, it just wasn't going to be the
amount of money we needed to come up with anything of value," Schwarzkopf told WWA
board members who met Thursday.
A private company, Fort Wayne, Ind.-based Commodity Drying, is also
interested in pursuing the study of a plant that would burn poultry manure to create an
ash byproduct that could be turned into a pelletized fertilizer. WWA officials embraced
the idea because it would remove a lot of animal waste from the watershed and ideally lead
to cleaner water. The plant also could possibly be built to generate electricity.
WWA officials will now consider a new grant opportunity that could fund
the feasibility study. However, this grant would put the burden of data collection on
local livestock producers. WWA officials agreed to seek out livestock farmers who may be
willing to serve on a steering committee.
No specific dollar amount was discussed concerning the United States
Department of Agriculture grant. The grant is not available yet, Schwarzkopf said.
WWA officials have mixed feelings about whether the organization should
be funding the study. Some argue that if a private company wants such a study done, the
company should pay for it. But others point to an extra benefit to the WWA.
"It may never pan out, but we'd be foolish not to look at
it," Mercer County Commissioner Jim Zehringer said.
"We'd be crazy not to pursue it," board member Oscar Jutte
said, adding that the sooner a watershed plan is in place, the sooner the group can begin
working on specific methods to clean up the watershed.
A feasibility study would help WWA officials compile an
"inventory," of livestock and other contributors of waste to the watershed. Such
an inventory is a necessary part of a watershed plan the WWA received an Ohio
Environmental Protection Agency grant to help fund.
Also Thursday, board members heard from Susan Benner, executive
director of the Wabash Heritage Corridor, a conservancy group that covers 19 counties in
Indiana where the Wabash River flows. The group is particularly interested in historical
and preservation issues, but also has become active in recent years in water quality
issues, Benner said.
"Let them know we're working to send them clean water," WWA
Chairman Gary Steinbrunenr told Benner.
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