Livestock company uses green methods to improve wastewater treatment

In response to the challenges involved in running a livestock operation, including recent changes by the EPA regarding how the Clean Water Act governs livestock producers, Comanche Livestock Company (CLC) has created an affordable, green solution to improve the treatment of its wastewater ponds.

Aug. 27, 2003 -- In response to the challenges involved in running a livestock operation, including recent changes by the EPA regarding how the Clean Water Act governs livestock producers, Comanche Livestock Company (CLC) has created an affordable, green solution to improve the treatment of its wastewater ponds.

CLC has tried several wastewater remediation solutions over the years, at a substantial cost, that did not produce the results they needed. This has become a critical issue in an industry with shrinking margins and growing regulation.

To best comply with Clean Water Act regulations governing livestock operations, mitigate their impact, protect the environment, and control odor and be better neighbors, livestock producers are applying the latest wastewater treatment technology, pushing its limits, and even inventing new systems to ensure that the waste their operations produce is handled cleanly and efficiently.

Typically, this can mean substantial capital equipment costs, as well as significant energy and maintenance costs over the life of the equipment.

Now, CLC has developed and implemented a treatment system that relies on cultivation of algae to drive the wastewater treatment process. Based on the success of this system, they've applied for a patent and formed a company called AgSmart, Inc., to market to and install and service this system for municipal and agricultural clients across the country. The application for the trademark of "O2 Solution" has been accepted, representative of the aerobic process the system uses.

The system is based on a greenhouse with water tanks where algae is grown. The algae is then transferred to the waste lagoons, where it releases oxygen into the system. Microbes are seeded into the lagoons, and a small blower injects air into the bottom of the lagoon through diffuser plates to help mix the lagoon contents. The oxygen supplied by the algae is used by the microbes to break down the waste.

The results of the process have been dramatic. Dave Harrington and Larry Graff, CLC employees who helped build and now maintain the system, say it has turned the worst job at the facility into one of the best. Previously, doing maintenance on the waste treatment system meant getting stains and smell on their hands that would not wash away, even with bleach. Now, a simple soap and water wash is all it takes to clean up after working on the system. Odor has been virtually eliminated from the process.

The system has also broken down a thick layer of sludge that covered the top of one of the lagoons. They credit the results of the system to the amount and purity of the oxygen created by the algae, which puts more pure dissolved oxygen into the process than is typically possible with mechanical aeration, at a fraction of the equipment, energy and maintenance costs.

Aerobic waste treatment like that enabled by the AgSmart system is preferred to anaerobic treatment because it is a much faster means of breaking down waste, and the organic processes involved don't produce as many volatile byproducts and their accompanying odors. It reduces methane emission, stabilizes nitrogen (which improves fertilizer quality) and reduces pathogens.

AgSmart's algae system solves these problems, and makes efficient, affordable aerobic treatment available to livestock producers and municipalities seeking to improve their waste lagoon treatment process to reduce odors, improve relations with their neighbors and comply with increasingly stringent regulations. The system has also been implemented at a packing plant in Oregon, as well as a municipality in Kansas. The latest installation is at a Colorado dairy, where the algae treatment system has demonstrated measurable odor control results within the first 90 days.

About AgSmart
AgSmart, Inc. has developed "The O2 Solution," an affordable, green, biological microbial solution for aerobic wastewater remediation for agriculture producers and municipalities that reduces equipment, energy and maintenance costs, as well as odor. AgSmart is located in Strasburg, Colorado, and can be reached at (303) 622-4567 or lllosh@aol.com.


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