bhsl visit Chesapeake Bay on 13th January 2012

Located on the eastern seaboard, the Chesapeake Bay is the United States’ largest estuary and the third largest in the world. Its watershed extends over 64,000 square miles, encompassing parts of six states, Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvanian, Virginia & West Virginia.

In the later part of the twentieth century, fisheries collapsed.  The once rich oyster beds reduced to just 2% of their historical size.  In summer, huge algal blooms created by high nutrient and sediment loads create wide “Dead Zones” where dissolved oxygen levels are too low to support fish and crab.

In 2008, the Chesapeake Bay Program published “Turning Chesapeake Bay Watershed Manure and Poultry Litter to Energy”, a detailed analysis of technologies with the potential to improve water quality in the region. In addition to outlining the benefits of solving the major issues of litter disposal and increasing utility costs, the paper recognised bhsl’s contribution to research and development of fluidized bed technology. Read more here.

In January 2011, a team from bhsl visited the Bay Area.  Meeting with farmers and policy makers to discuss how bhsl’s technology can aid water quality and provide new revenue streams for farmers.  As a farm based solution, and part of an integrated approach to solving the rising issues bhsl is well placed to aid the goals of both environmental groups and agriculture.  Jack O’Connor said, “I’m so reminded of the choices I faced on my own Limerick farm in the 1990’s.  Land banks are reducing everywhere and modern agriculture needs alternatives.  Phosphorus is an essential element which needs capturing rather than release to the Bay.”The causes of the decline in the Bay’s environment, and water quality are many.  Urbanization, construction and heavy industry are implicated, as is animal agriculture. Caps have been set for nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment release into the Bay known as “Total Maximum Daily Loads” or TMDLs.  Farmers must find alternatives disposal methods to land application, or face an uncertain future.

Also this month, the influential Chesapeake Bay Commission, a tri-state assembly entrusted with coordinating environmental policy for the Bay, published their own report on manure to energy.  This recognizes technologies like bhsl’s provide a “Win Win Win” for the environment, sustainable agriculture and energy independence.

Read the report in full here.