Cayuga County Soil and Water stands behind digester operator after DEC citation

During the first Cayuga County Soil and Water Conservation District board meeting since the state Department of Environmental Conservation cited the Cayuga Regional Digester in March, the digester plant manager gave an update of the operation.

“The facility is running well,” said Plant Manager John Stapleton Wednesday. “We’ve responded to (DEC’s) letter … and we’ll wait to hear back from them.”

The digester, located in Sennett, is operated by CH4 Generate Cayuga, a California-based investment firm that focuses on renewable energy projects. CH4 operates the digester facility through a long-term, lease-to-own agreement with Cayuga County Soil and Water Conservation District.

The DEC citation called for numerous digester practices discovered in a surprise investigation to stop, including accepting wastes the facility was not authorized to accept and certain waste streams — such as source-separated organics from New York City — until more reviews and approvals could be obtained.

Stapleton said the facility averages five trips a day to the storage lagoon in Mentz with the effluent produced by the digester. It’s been taking more than one delivery route and changed the schedule to avoid school bus hours in response to complaints, he added. Currently, however, he said the facility’s three routes have been reduced to two due to either a resident or the town putting up barriers on a corner that make it impossible for a tractor trailer to make the turn.

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