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San Francisco Bay Fund Inventory of Projects

San Francisco Bay Fund Inventory of Projects

Dairies Project

Organization: Sustainable Conservation
2001 Grant Recipient - San Francisco County

Purpose
When most people think about pollution, they think of exhaust fumes from automobiles, and smoke billowing from factory pipes. They don't think of dairy farms as major polluters. Yet, according to the State of California Water Quality Control Board, dairies are one of agriculture's most significant sources of water pollution. In fact, dairy waste threatens the quality of drinking water for up to 20 million Californians.

The pollution created by dairies comes primarily from manure-tons and tons of manure. Statewide, dairy cows create more than 55 billion pounds of manure per year. Even when applied as fertilizer, this excess waste runs off into California's waterways, eventually contaminating aquatic habitats and public water sources. A major source of reactive organic gases, dairy manure also contributes to air pollution.

Sustainable Conservation's Dairies Project, a collaborative partnership of dairies, government agencies, and environmentalists, works to find cost-effective solutions to managing dairy waste.

Electricity Generated from Cow Manure To help reduce the harmful impact of dairy manure on the environment, the Dairies Project has promoted such innovative technologies and practices as:

  • Anaerobic digesters that treat manure while extracting methane for electricity generation
  • Net metering -- a money-saving process by which an electric meter runs in reverse when a digester produces more energy than the farmer needs
  • Convenient composting sites for farms to convert agricultural waste into soil nutrients
  • Nutrient management systems that reduce groundwater contamination from manure

Since the inception of the Dairies Project in 2000, dozens of dairies have implemented these practices on their farms, and more than 1000 dairy farmers have completed an environmental stewardship course. Now, we hope to expand this progress throughout the state.

NRPI Database Entry
http://www.ice.ucdavis.edu/nrpi/NRPIDescription.asp?ProjectPK=389

Primary Contact for the Project
Allen Dusault
Program Director
Sustainable Conservation
Phone: (415) 977-0380
Email: ADusault@SusCon.org

Secondary Contact for the Project
Ashley Boren
Executive Director
Sustainable Conservation
Phone: (415) 977-0380
Email: ABoren@SusCon.org

Quick Links

Project Photos

The Cows shown in this photo are grazing on pasture in Marin County. This model of
feeding cows is becoming increasingly rare as diaries have shifted to a different type of
operation. Most of California's dairy cows no longer graze on pasture lands. Instead,
they are housed in concentrated feedlots where the feed is brought to the cows. This
can result in higher concentrations of manure being produced on smaller land areas
which can lead to more water pollution.

The Cows shown in this photo are grazing on pasture in Marin County. This model of feeding cows is becoming increasingly rare as diaries have shifted to a different type of operation. Most of California's dairy cows no longer graze on pasture lands. Instead, they are housed in concentrated feedlots where the feed is brought to the cows. This can result in higher concentrations of manure being produced on smaller land areas which can lead to more water pollution.

Last modified: 7/19/2012 2:19 PM by S. Haren

UCR Contact Information

Water Resources Collections and Archives
Tomás Rivera Library, 4th Floor
PO Box 5900
University of California
Riverside, CA 92517-5900

Tel: 951-827-3233    Fax: 951-827-4673    email Email

CSUSB Contact Information

Water Resources Institute, CSUSB
Boykin Witherspoon III, Institute Director
California State University, San Bernardino
PL-401 5500 University Parkway
San Bernardino CA 92407-2318

Tel: 909-537-3685    email Email

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