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The city of Omaha approved the Biogas Conditioning Project worth $20 million, wastewater treatment process to turn into profit

OMAHA, Nebraska – A new public works project is giving Omaha and the surrounding area a new meaning to the phrase “flushing money down the toilet.”

The Omaha City Council approved a $20 million Biogas Conditioning Project on August 16 to capture and purify the gas produced naturally during the wastewater treatment process at the Papillion Creek Water Resource Recovery Facility.

“We take dirty water and make clean water,” said Michael Arends, the manager of water resource recovery engineering and remote facilities.

It is a straightforward explanation of a complex process. Arends writes that the plant handles about 60 million gallons of wastewater every day and serves 600,000 individuals in the Omaha metropolitan area.

“The byproducts are solid material, which we stabilize,” Arends said. “We make fertilizer of sorts and we get the gas from the product and we reuse that for energy.”

They have been doing this for almost 40 years to assist power and fuel the facilities. Now, the municipality desires to sell this biogas.

“The biogas conditioning will further clean our biogas so that it makes it pipeline quality renewable natural gas,” he said.

Gas will yield a substantial return in the form of renewable energy credits. Arends anticipates annual revenue between $5 million and $7 million.

The gas will be transported to Black Hills Energy, who is constructing a pipeline to link to the facility; the project is scheduled for completion in 2024.

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

They’re helping ensure the waste is not wasted.

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

According to Johnson, Black Hills Energy will engage in its third wastewater biogas plant.

According to the city of Omaha, the return on investment should not take long. With up to $7 million in annual revenue, the project may pay for itself within three years.

The polluted water of Omaha will help drive the future.

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

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