U.S. Water News Online
STEPHENVILLE, Texas -- State lawmakers are hoping that a
$5.1 million program will turn a mammoth manure problem into a
sweet-smelling environmental success story along two Texas rivers.
The legislators has recently unveiled what will eventually become
a self-sufficient composting operation that removes the bulk of
manure from Erath County dairy farms. The manure runoff is a major
pollution concern along the North Bosque and Leon rivers. The manure
will be trucked to a private processor, which will sell the resulting
compost to state agencies and others. Erath County has been the
state's leading milk-producing region.
"By reducing the amount of manure flowing into the Bosque River,
it ultimately will improve water quality in the two rivers and
improve the drinking water in Waco, my hometown," said state Rep. Kip
By trucking more than 500,000 cubic yards of manure to a
composting site, runoff could be cut by as much as 70 percent,
State Rep. David Lengefeld, D-Hamilton, cautioned that the plan is
only a partial solution to problems in the Bosque and Leon watershed,
but he called it a step in the right direction.
Texas Best Compost is obtaining permits from the Texas Natural
Resource Conservation Commission to handle the volume, officials
said. A site on U.S. 377 between Stephenville and Dublin will be used
initially, and other facilities will be added as the program
develops, they said.
"By jump-starting the production of compost while creating a
strong market to purchase the product, the program is expected to be
fully self-sufficient within three years," Averitt said. "This is
what can happened when agriculture, business, and government work
together in a bipartisan manner."
The Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board is providing
$1.2 million, 40 percent from state funds and 60 percent from federal
grants, to reimburse dairies for the cost of hauling manure to a
The conservation commission is providing $3.9 million, 40 percent
from TNRCC and Texas Department of Transportation funds and 60
percent in federal grants, as incentives for state agencies to
purchase the compost.
The state Transportation Department has agreed to use compost when
The North Bosque is on the list of rivers that do not meet the
federal Clean Water Act's standards for drinking, swimming, or
Some of the high levels of phosphorus and nitrates in the rivers
result from runoff from dairies in the two watersheds.
"This compost program is a welcome solution to this problem,"
Composting was identified as a viable option for cleaning up the
North Bosque River early in the study of the water problems, but the
economics didn't quite work before, he said.
"Hauling manure to local compost facilities is expensive for local
businessmen," Averitt said. "We wanted to be sensitive to that and to
the fact that many people in Erath County are dependent upon the
He also said the people working on the project had to be sure
someone would buy the compost.
Return to the
U.S. Water News Archives page
Return to the U.S. Water
Use a comma to separate e-mail addresses:
Hi, I thought you might like to read this article.