USDA and King County, Wash., recently created a new partnership to design a system to help manage manure waste on the Enumclaw Plateau.

Last week, Jackie Gleason, USDA rural development business and cooperative programs administrator, presented King County with a Rural Business Enterprise Grant of $93,900.

The grant will be used to design a system to collect and process of dairy manure and transform it into energy and other useful byproducts. “This is an exciting time for new energy development and King County is at the forefront of developing these new energy technologies,” Gleason said. “We’re happy to be partners with you in this pilot project.”

The focal point of the collection system is a manure digester that converts methane gas from manure into electricity. The digester also creates a marketable fiber that is an excellent composting material, while the remaining liquid that is separated from the gas and solids during processing would continue to be used as fertilizer for crops but with significantly less odor.

“If this pilot project comes to fruition, we would successfully create a new source of energy from waste – all while protecting the environment and enhancing King County’s rural economy,” said Jim Lopez, deputy chief of staff for King County Executive Ron Sims.

Lopez said the federal grant funding will be used to identify which manure digester system is most appropriate for the Enumclaw Plateau, to map out a system to aggregate the manure, and to identify the best site for such a facility. Officials expect the work to be completed by the end of the year.

King County press release