US city in Iowa votes to convert its wastewater into RNG
Its City Council unanimously approved a resolution last week to request approvals for the development of renewable natural gas (RNG) projects - achieved by breaking down waste from its wastewater treatment plant and the Tyson Fresh Meats wastewater lagoon.
Waterloo currently burns off most of the biogas that is generated from the waste, which is then called biogas.
Tyson's five-acre anaerobic lagoon creates a significant amount of methane, according to waste management services operations director Brian Bowman. It creates about 800,000 cubic feet of useful biogas per year. The wastewater treatment plant produces about 250,000 cubic feet per year.
Bowman told The Courier that the city concluded that it should use developers for the project "who know how to do this directly."
The request for proposals would ask developers to scrub the gas and put it in a natural gas pipeline that feeds into the grid, which is maintained by MidAmerica.
"That will be a lot of revenue for them and we get a cut of it," Bowman said.
Although Bowman couldn't estimate how much the gas is worth at this point in time, he said it has a lot of value. Waterloo wouldn't just benefit financially, he noted, but environmentally as well by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
"We have the full support of the mayor to seek these things that are green in nature," he said.
In July last year, Waterloo became the fourth city in the US to vow it would run on carbon-free electricity by 2035.
"I'm hopeful that we'll get some serious developers interested from the whole nation that will look at this and value it," Bowman said.
He said the city will have mandatory meetings with developers who will participate and talk about the project. Then in March, those developers can meet with city staff and tour the facilities. In April the city will develop a committee to review and make recommendations about their selection. By May, the city could make a selection and give the candidate a letter of intent to go into phase two of the project.