San Antonio Opens Poo-To-Fuel Plant

Cows aren’t the only creatures producing methane gas, you know. We humans are in on the act, too. And therein lies opportunity, says the San Antonio Water System (SAWS).

The agency just announced the opening of a biogas facility at their Dos Rios Water Recycling Center that captures methane and — instead of burning it off with flares, the way it used to — treats and transfers at least 900,000 cubic feet of gas a day to a commercial pipeline. Talk about your win-win: Not only is this a benefit for air quality in the region, but the agency says its ratepayers will take in around $200,000 a year in royalties.

San Antonio Water System

image via San Antonio Water System

Biogas production from cow manure is a growing source of renewable energy, but SAWS says it’s “the first large wastewater utility to partner with a private sector company, Ameresco, to actively sell biogas in the United States.”

The agency said the project fits in with what it calls a “recycling trifecta” for recycling and reusing waste that comes into the Dos Rios plant. It also turns biosolids into compost and produces 115 million gallons a day of “high-quality recycled water” for use by the city’s “Riverwalk, golf courses, parks and commercial and industrial customers as well as in the upper San Antonio River and Salado Creek.”

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Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.