Amendments to the Water Pollution Control Act (水污染防治法) are set to take effect next month that would optimize the use of animal manure to produce 200,000 tonnes of nitrogen fertilizers and generate enough electricity to supply 79,000 households a year, the Environmental Protection Administration said.
Currently, animal manure is prohibited from being deposited on farmland as fertilizer and must be treated as either wastewater or waste soil, according to the act promulgated in 1974, resulting in tens of thousands of tonnes of organic waste being discharged into bodies of water each year, leading to pollution and eutrophication, the administration said.
Describing such legislation as a misuse of natural resources, Department of Water Quality Director Yeh Chun-hung (葉俊宏) said the amendments optimize the use of animal manure to recover methane and to generate “renewable” electricity in compliance with the Clean Development Mechanism established by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
The amendments mean animal manure is to managed as a resource rather than as waste, and farmyard manure can be used as a fertilizer after days of anaerobic fermentation, before being diluted with irrigation water and plowed into farmland to replenish the soil, Yeh said.
The nation’s pig farming industry totals about 5.5 million swine, the feces of which produce about 559,000m3 of biogas every day, which could generate 287,250 kilowatts of electricity, enough to power about 79,000 households a year, Yeh said.
The industry could earn about NT$970 million (US$29.42 million) a year by using the biogas to generate electricity, he said, adding that farms could also earn and trade the carbon emissions rights and quotas with the biogas they recycle.
That, coupled with a water pollution control fee to be paid by animal farmers starting in 2017, would offer a carrot-and-stick approach to regulating the use of animal manure, he said, adding that farms that keep more than 200 pigs would be subject to the new regulations.
A pig farm in Tainan managed by Taiwan Sugar Corp that keeps about 19,000 pigs estimated that it could save more than NT$2 million in water pollution control fees if it recycles its animal excrement, Yeh said.
About 5.6 million tonnes of carbon dioxide, or 2.1 percent of the nation’s carbon emissions, could be reduced every year if all pig feces is recycled, he said, adding that the global warming potential of methane and nitrous oxide — the two main components of the gas produced by animal manure — are 25 and 298 times higher than carbon dioxide.
Manure can still be discharged as wastewater if a facility cannot manage excessive excrement, but it must undergo fermentation and aerobic bioremediation before being flushed away, Yeh said, adding that violators would be fined between NT$120,000 and NT$600,000, while those who discharge unprocessed effluent can be fined up to NT$20 million.
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