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Don’t Poo-Poo This Research: Cow Manure a Source of Clean Water?

A Michigan State University researcher says the water retrieved from cow manure through a multi-step process is as pristine as what comes from the tap.

The average cow produces 10,000 gallons of manure a year, which a Michigan State University researcher says could produce 5,000 gallons of clean water under a multi-step process he has developed. (Patch file photo)
The average cow produces 10,000 gallons of manure a year, which a Michigan State University researcher says could produce 5,000 gallons of clean water under a multi-step process he has developed. (Patch file photo)

It seems so counterintuitive that it’s easy easy to poo-poo a new Michigan State University study touting cow manure as a source of clean water.

Between 90 percent and 95 percent of manure is water, and farmers and ranchers in thirsty drought-stricken areas are finding hope in the study from Michigan State’s Steve Safferman, an associate professor of biosystems and agricultural engineering, Michigan Radio reports.

Safferman says water can be extracted from cow manure through a multi-step process that includes pretreatment, filtration, air-stripping and reverse osmosis. Cows are capacious producers of manure, with a single bovine producing up to 10,000 gallons of manure a year. That waste could yield 5,000 gallons of water, Safferman’s research shows.

He claims the water is as fresh as that which comes out of the tap, and is of greater quality than well water used by many ranchers to water their cattle.

The water-retrieval system isn’t yet available commercially.

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