DEMING, Wash. -- New technology is allowing for the waste created on dairy farms to be turned into clean water.
Coldstream Farms sits in the south fork valley in Deming, Wash. The valley is narrow and the Nooksack River winds back and forth through the valley. Galen Smith, owner and operator of Coldstream, says it is important that his operation is conscious of the impact his farm has on the environment.
“We do have a lot of sensitive areas, that we want to make sure we are protecting water quality, all of those things that are important to farms,” he said. “We want to make sure we are doing a good job.”
Two and a half years ago, Smith was contacted by Regenis, a Ferndale company working to help farms with manure management. Eric Powell with Regenis, says the company searched the world for a technology the company believed in.
The system separates the manure into three products -- a solid of concentrated nutrients used for fertilizer, concentrated nutrients in the form of a liquid, and clean water that is the result of a reverse-osmosis filtration system.
Coldstream received $930,305 in grant money from the Washington State Conservation Commission for the manure management project. They were one of five recipients to get grant money for the use of innovative technology to reduce potential environmental impacts and costs associated with manure management.
Coldstream's commitment to sustainability is also evident in their land use strategy, where they work with the Whatcom Land Trust to ensure that the land that they farm along the banks of the South Fork is sustainable and thriving, including 54 acres that they lease from Land Trust. In 2018, Whatcom Land Trust awarded Coldstream the The Bob Keller Memorial Business Conservation Leadership Award.
Coldstream is the first clean system installation in Washington of this kind and its use creates 4.3 million gallons of clean water that can go back into the river each year. The Nooksack River is a main route for several types of salmon. The Whatcom Land Trust and the Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association have spent many hours working on the property to better the area for optimal salmon health.
“We were green before being green was cool,” Smith. “We are the ultimate recyclers. We take every drop we get from our cows, and now, we return it to water to a fish bearing stream.”
Smith also said their farm needs to operate in a sustainable way that is viable to a dairy operation.
“We have to protect not just our farm, but the farming community as we move into the future,” he said.
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REAL Environmental Action & Leadership is an effort by Whatcom Family Farmers - Education to help the greater Washington community work together to continually improve environmental practices, and for increased awareness of the family farming community’s Real Environmental Action and Leadership. Whatcom Family Farmers - Education is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.