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
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
Algoma officials first started to notice problems at
the wastewater treatment plant two or three years ago,
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
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
Once the waste is up the elevator, it is dumped into
a cooled tote capable of holding 1,500 to 2,000 pounds
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."