A $40 million project in Dane County will now keep phosphorus out of area lakes.
The Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District opened the 11th Addition Project Wednesday, which includes new technology to treat waste water. They partnered with Ostara Nutrient Recovery Technologies, who said this will be the largest system they have ever built, and is their seventh location worldwide.
"Perhaps the real reason the Ostara system was selected and the reason we're all here today can be summed up in one word, and that's 'water,'" Ostara CEO Phillip Abrary said.
The system takes this waste water, adds a bacteria to form a thick sludge, then sends it through a digester that pulls out phosphorus with water. The phosphorus is turned into Crystal Green, a plant-activated fertilizer.
"Rather than needing water to dissolve it relies on the plant's mechanism for feeding," Abrary said. "What this does is significantly reduces the potential for runoff and loss of nutrients."
That means when gardeners or farmers use it, less phosphorus ends up in the lakes feeding algae.
The plan is drawing high praise from environmental advocate and attorney Robert Kennedy, Jr, who is also on the board of Ostara.
"This visionary investment in this technology and other investments that have been made here is to make sure that we do what we were all taught in kindergarten, which is that we clean up after ourselves, and that's what we're doing here," Kennedy said.
The sewerage district will also be providing biosolids with less phosphorus in it to farmers for their fields. The biosolids will be made available in the next year. The Ostara process removes about 85 percent of the phosphorus from the waste water.
Crystal Green will also be for sale a wholesale and retail outlets in Dane County.