OTTAWA — The Van Ham Dairy Farm produces 75,000 gallons of waste — cow dung — a day. And the village of Ottawa is trying to figure out how to most environmentally friendly and cost-effectively treat that load at its wastewater treatment plant. Officials are open for suggestions and got some Wednesday from Lima Senior High School Progressive Academy environmental science students. “That was awesome. Those are things we are looking for. We are looking for any ideas,” Jack Williams, village municipal director, said after hearing three presentations from students. “I think it is great that these kids are getting involved and they are hitting it.”Students visited the Continental dairy farm and Ottawa treatment plant Wednesday. High school students from Ottawa-Glandorf, Leipsic, Continental and Fort Jennings also toured the two facilities and heard the Lima Senior students' presentations. Van Ham and the village entered an agreement in mid-January, with the treatment plant taking in 160,000 gallons of manure as a pilot test. The treatment plant has two digesters, tanks used to break down sludge, that are not being used, allowing the plant to keep the manure as a separate stream from human waste. Officials are still studying things and will likely do another full test in the coming months, said Jason Phillips, village water director. “We are very confident that we are on the right track,” he said, adding that he is glad to have the students involved and is open to their ideas.Students' ideas included how to separate the water and manure waste. One idea for the manure is to compost it to mix with soil. They explained how a roller separator would be used. Another group talked of taking the waste “to methane to electricity” by using fuel cells. Junior Jenna Ward suggests turning the waste into a viable product, such as cow pods used for planting. The liquid waste, she said, could be made into micro-algae animal feed. Village Councilwoman Jo Deskins is a teacher at Lima Senior and suggested to teacher Justin Richardson that his students take on the project. He turned it into a class project that students have worked on for more than a month. Students from Bowling Green State University are also working on it. “This is real world,” Richardson said. “What they are proposing, the Ottawa Village Council is really going to take into consideration.”Richardson told students to create a pollution solution that would benefit all parties involved. They then went to work in small groups, coming up with ideas and then preparing slide-show presentations for Wednesday.“I was really excited about this. We have been solving problems all year, but this is the first time we have gotten to apply it,” Ward said. “It is more than just a scenario. It is an actual application.”“It is amazing to think of how many people this could actually affect,” junior Jason Upthegrove said. “This can actually benefit people.”The village hopes to eventually go beyond just taking waste from Van Ham, but also from other dairy farms and animal streams. “If we could make this system work, we would open up the possibility to really make this a truly environmental project in which the whole area embraces,” Phillips said.The village applied for an innovative grant through the state. It won't find out if it will get the grant until the summer.You can comment on this story at www.limaohio.com.
Tara Cutlip, 21 and pregnant with her second child, was shot and killed Saturday in her Bahama Drive home. Loved ones gather in front of Tara's home to remember her and speak out against domestic violence.