Summit to focus on use of manure as renewable energy source

When life hands you lemons, make lemonade. But what do you do when life hands you manure? Simple. Make electricity.

Alexandria, Va., May 5, 2003 -- When life hands you lemons, make lemonade. But what do you do when life hands you manure? Simple. Make electricity.

It's not pie-in-the-sky (or cow-pie-in-the-corral) thinking either. The technology is here, and it's already in use throughout the world. It's called anaerobic digestion -- a process by which synergistic actions between bacteria act to breakdown waste products. One of the resulting by-products of that natural process is a biogas that can be used to generate electricity.

In addition to being a source of renewable energy, experts say anaerobic digester (AD) technology could effectively and efficiently address a number of persistent environmental problems associated with agricultural and municipal waste management including water quality and air quality.

The question for policy makers and industry professionals is how to make more wide-spread use of that technology. Consequently, a two-day summit, June 2-4 in Raleigh, North Carolina will provide a forum to address some of the barriers, both technological and institutional, facing AD technology.

Sponsored by USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), the U.S. Dept. of Energy and the Water Environment Federation (WEF), the summit will also provide a forum for examining the opportunities for public and private sectors to work together to facilitate digester adoption within the context of animal waste management, rural economic development, and environmental improvement.

"AD technology represents a major tool for agricultural and municipal waste management," said conference co-chair Ted Payseur (Veenstra & Kimm, Inc.). "Not only can AD reduce America's need for foreign oil, it is a significant tool for the protection of watersheds -- it reduces waste volume and promotes recycling," he said. "Another benefit of AD technology," Payseur said, "is it can significantly reduce pathogens and help control the use or disposal of nitrogen that could adversely impact water quality."

NRCS Chief Bruce I. Knight said his agency is co-sponsoring this event because of the tremendous environmental and energy benefits of anaerobic digester technology. "AD technology represents a great opportunity to not only take advantage of a renewable energy source," he said, "but it can help address air quality and water quality concerns associated with animal agriculture production -- we simply need to do everything possible to help producers utilize this technology."

For more information on attending the summit, contact the Water Environment Federation at, call: 1-800-666-0206, or visit the WEF web site at

Founded in 1928, the Water Environment Federation (WEF) is a not-for-profit technical and educational organization with members from varied disciplines who work toward the WEF vision of preservation and enhancement of the global water environment. The WEF network includes water quality professionals from 79 Member Associations in over 30 countries.

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