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Omaha’s $20 million plan to turn sewage into a source of revenue

OMAHA, Nebraska (KETV) — A new public works project is giving the phrase “flushing money down the toilet” new meaning for Omaha and surrounding communities.

On August 16, the Omaha City Council approved a $20 million biogas conditioning project to capture and clean gas naturally created during the wastewater treatment process at the Omaha Water Resources Recovery Facility. Butterfly Creek.

“We take dirty water and produce clean water,” said Michael Arends, engineering manager for water resource recovery and remote facilities.

It’s a simple explanation for a complicated process. Arends notes that the facility treats more than 60 million gallons of wastewater per day and covers an area of ​​600,000 people in metro Omaha.

“By-products are solid materials, which we stabilize,” Arends said. “We make kinds of fertilizers and we get the gas from the product and we reuse it for energy.”

It’s something they’ve done for over 40 years to help electricity and power the facility. Now the city wants to sell this biogas.

“Biogas conditioning will further purify our biogas to pipeline-grade renewable natural gas,” he said.

The gas will bring a solid return in the form of renewable energy credits. Arends expects it to generate $5-7 million per year.

The gas will be sent to Black Hills Energy, which is building a pipeline to connect to the facility, with a project completion date set for 2024.

“The reason renewable natural gas projects are happening is the focus on reducing emissions,” said Brandy Johnson, communications manager at Black Hills Energy.

They help ensure that waste is not wasted.

“It goes into our system, is distributed and used where it’s needed,” said Johnson, who reiterated that all gas meets pipeline safety standards.

According to Johnson, this will be the third wastewater biogas project in which Black Hills Energy is involved.

The return on investment should be soon, according to the city of Omaha. With revenues of up to $7 million per year, the project could pay for itself in as little as three years.

Omaha’s dirty water will help fuel the future.

“It’s a green resource,” Arends said. “It’s been in place for years and we will finally have a system in place that allows us to take credit for it.”

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