On a crisp, fall-like day in August, Under Secretary Dallas Tonsager travelled to Pennsylvania to tour two USDA funded facilities that are helping to reduce the amount of nutrients flowing into the Chesapeake Bay. The first stop on the tour was Windview Farm where owner Mac Curtis has revolutionized his poultry farm with a $100,000 Conservation Innovation Grant from Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). The project demonstrates the promising technology of a poultry litter incinerator to produce energy and nutrient management benefits. Last year, in addition to reducing 400 tons of poultry litter to 30 tons of ash, the farm saved 90% of their propane costs.
The next stop on the tour was Milton Regional Sewer Authority (MRSA), currently described by the designers as one of the world’s first wastewater-to-energy projects. George Myers, MRSA’s Superintendent, provided a briefing on plans for a new state-of-the-art treatment facility funded in part by a $34,132,400 Rural Development Water & Environmental Program loan under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2010 and an additional $25,000,000 this year. The funding will result in a 180-degree upgrade to the treatment complex that will turn high-strength influent streams into energy and money while reducing nitrogen and phosphorus loading to the Chesapeake Bay.