Town flooded with liquid fertilizer lagoon questions

Nathan Carr, a senior project manager for Denali Water Solutions, speaks at the Royalton Town Board meeting at a March meeting.

A proposed lagoon project for a Royalton farm was heavily questioned by residents at a town board meeting this past week. 

Van Buren Farm is looking to construct a lagoon to store a liquid fertilizer product they will be receiving from Denali Water Solutions. 

Nathan Carr, a senior project manager for Denali, explained that his company operates an anaerobic digester, which takes manure and food waste and breaks it down. During the process, methane gas is created which is used to produce electricity. 

Carr said that they can’t turn all of the food waste and manure into gas, so there is a liquid product leftover that can be used to fertilize crops because, “it’s got a lot of great nutrients.” 

The Van Buren Farm would like to use the liquid to fertilize its crops, and the lagoon would be used to store the liquid when it cannot be spread. 

Carr said some of the times the liquid cannot be spread would be when it is raining “real hard” outside or if the soil is frozen 2 feet down. 

Many residents questioned the project and how it would affect the Royalton community. 

One resident asked if the lagoon would smell. In reply, Carr said they break down the material at the plant, and all the rotting happens there. So, no “offensive smells” will be given off the farm, but some smell will be given off. 

Robert Groff asked where they are getting the food waste from. Carr said it comes from food manufacturers, grocery stores and restaurants, but said because he didn’t have the permission he could not disclose his customers.  

Brian Frey asked if Quasar was involved in this project. 

Carr explained that Quasar used to own the digesters at his facility, and they were experienced a lot of controversy after the company was found to be using municipal sewage sludge. Since February 2018, Generate Capital, an investment firm that invests in renewable energy technologies, has owned the digesters, Carr added.

“Quasar has absolutely nothing to do with these plants anymore in any capacity whatsoever,” Carr noted. 

He also added that, even though Quasar isn’t involved, sewage sludge has not been used in the digesters in “almost five” years. 

Residents and the town board agreed that they wanted more answers about the project, so town Supervisor Daniel Bragg will be soliciting questions from residents to ask Carr and his company.

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