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Dodge City, Kansas—2020 Recipient, Program Excellence Award, Community Sustainability (10,000 to 49,999 Population)

The South Wastewater Treatment Plant (WTTP) in Dodge City is a non-discharging facility that treats 5.7 million gallons of wastewater a day and irrigates 3,000 acres of cropland. The plant treats 1.7 billion gallons of water a year—a combination of municipal waste and industrial waste from National Beef Processors. As part of the treatment, the anaerobic digestion process produces raw biogas at an average rate of 1.6 million cubic feet per day, which, once processed, translates to an equivalent of 3.5 million gallons of gasoline per year.

In the 14 years since the completion of the expansion of the South WWTP, Dodge City staff has been looking for ways to utilize the raw biogas created by the treatment process. From 2006 to 2009, the city had discussions with several potential partners that might reuse the biogas, and again in 2014, the city, along with National Beef Processors, requested proposals for biogas reuse. After negotiations proved unsuccessful, the city decided to manage the project on its own, assuming responsibility for the design and construction of the facility and marketing and sale of the purified biogas.

The total project cost was $10.75 million, and the funding was made possible through an extension of a current low-interest loan from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

The Warrior Project facility began operation in March 2018. It is registered with the International Sustainability and Carbon Certification (ISCC) in Europe and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the United States.

The upgraded biogas from the municipal digesters is sold to KWIK Trip, a convenience store chain in the upper Midwest, and generates Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs) per EPA rules and regulations under the Renewable Fuel Standard Program. The upgraded biogas from National Beef’s waste stream is sold to OCI Fuels, which converts the gas into methanol and ships it to Europe, where it is used as an automotive fuel additive.

On average, the Warrior Project produces 1,040 MMBTU of purified gas per day (an MMBTU is 1 million British Thermal Units). It projects a net revenue of $5 million annually from the sale of renewable natural gas. The revenue helps the city pay down existing debt, fund deferred maintenance of infrastructure and future capital improvements, and reduce property taxes. In addition, the Warrior Project serves as a way for Dodge City to use resources in a way that furthers its stewardship of the environment by decreasing greenhouse emissions and reducing dramatic odor.

As public servants, Dodge City leaders were committed to looking after the best interest of their community. In this case, through innovative local government efforts, they turned what is considered a waste product into a valuable resource that is environmentally friendly and also generates revenue for the city. The Warrior Project has the potential to be adapted and utilized in other communities, where it can have a positive impact on the environment.

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