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Great Lakes Article:

New Solution for Unwanted Fish Scraps
Duluth News Tribune
Published July 2, 2006

ALGOMA, Wis. - After fish guts clogged the city's wastewater treatment plant, officials decided something need to be done.

So it built a fish-cleaning station to process the unwanted parts and turn it into fertilizer.

"I just think this is the ideal way to handle fish waste," said Ken Taylor, an Algoma alderman and chairman of the city's marina committee. "It's silly to take a usable product and throw it in the trash."

Dramm Corp. of Manitowoc and the city of Algoma built the fish-cleaning station at the Algoma Marina and Dramm will process the scraps for use in Drammatic Liquid Fish Fertilizer.

Algoma officials first started to notice problems at the wastewater treatment plant two or three years ago, Taylor said.

The plant was built to accommodate up to 6,000 people, but at peak fishing season the waste reached levels typically seen in communities of 30,000.

Last July, the facility operated at 66 percent above its capacity due to fish waste, according to the Algoma public works committee's meeting minutes.

"It takes 15 times more effort to clean fish waste over human waste," Taylor said. "When it got to be too much, we'd put it in barrels and haul it to the landfill."

After sifting through various options, Algoma officials approached Dramm, which had been making its fertilizer with scraps from Great Lakes commercial fishers.

The new device begins with a 30-foot conveyor belt, where 20 anglers can clean their fish at once. From that point, the scraps are brought up an elevator to let the water drain off.

Once the waste is up the elevator, it is dumped into a cooled tote capable of holding 1,500 to 2,000 pounds of fish.

When it's full, a sensor alerts an attendant, who swaps in a fresh tote. Finally, the full totes are taken to Dramm for processing.

Besides saving the city money, making money for Dramm and making Algoma fishing more convenient, the new system will help the environment.

Fish are organic, so they create what the Environmental Protection Agency calls "biochemical oxygen demand." Those are microorganisms that consume oxygen when they break down the waste. Higher BOD levels mean less oxygen in the air.

"We're definitely looking forward to solving the problem," said Algoma mayor Virginia Haske. "No one has ever tried the setup we have, but from everything I've heard it's working just fine."


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