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Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Gas created during wastewater treatment is now making a regional utility in Des Moines an estimated $5 million a year, its director said in a public presentation last week.

Why it matters: We always knew our $#!+ was worth something. Now it's finally helping us pay the bills.

How it works: Des Moines Metropolitan Wastewater Reclamation Authority (WRA) recently completed a $20 million project to capture and clean the biogases produced during water treatment.

  • The gasses had previously gone to waste. (The utility burned them off with a large flare.)
  • Now, cleaned fuel is injected into a utility pipeline and sold under contract, WRA director Scott Hutchens told the DSM City Council last week.

Between the lines: The multi-year project went online late last year and generates the equivalent volume of gas used daily in 5,500 average U.S. homes.

  • The project — which benefits from a federal energy tax credit program — will pay for itself within four to six years, Hutchens told Jason.
  • It's earnings will help offset the utility's expenses and pay debt.

The big picture: "Sludge-to-energy" systems are being adopted around the world as technology advances and utilities discover they can reduce pollution and create new revenue, according to research group World Resources Institute.

  • Dubuque began selling its wastewater gas in 2018, while Sioux City launched a program last year.
  • Our metro landfill has been capturing gas created from garbage for decades. It's used to make electricity — enough to power about 5K homes.
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Go deeper

Sep 10, 2021 - Axios Des Moines

Sale of Des Moines Social Club goes before City Council

Malo, a Latin-themed restaurant, is still operating on the Des Moines Social Club campus and plans to continue operating after the potential sale, city officials told Axios yesterday. Photo: Jason Clayworth/Axios

The Des Moines Social Club campus will be sold to a Kansas City, Missouri, developer looking to repurpose the events venue and add a boutique speakeasy under a $3.1 million proposed sale that goes before the City Council Monday.

Why it matters: In 2014, when DMSC first opened the doors of its 30,000-square-foot facility at 900 Mulberry St., it was a central Iowa art hub.

  • And while it's dissolving, former club director Zach Mannheimer told Axios that the new plans meet the spirit of the group's goal to help local artists and entrepreneurs.
Sep 10, 2021 - World

Russia's Gazprom says Nord Stream 2 pipeline is complete

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Photo: Adam Berry/Getty Images

Construction was officially completed Friday on the controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which will allow Russia to bypass Ukraine in delivering natural gas directly to the heart of Europe, according to Russian energy giant Gazprom.

Why it matters: The $11 billion pipeline has been condemned as a "Kremlin geopolitical project" by the Biden administration and is vigorously opposed by Ukraine, which considers it to be a grave threat to national security.

DHS to increase deportation flights to Haiti from Del Rio

Migrants walk across the Rio Grande River carrying supplies back to a makeshift encampment under the international bridge between Del Rio, Texas, and Acuña, Mexico. Officials are struggling to provide food, water, shelter and sanitation, forcing migrants to cross the Rio Grande several times per day for basic necessities. Photo: Jordan Vonderhaar via Getty Images

The Department of Homeland Security on Saturday announced plans to ramp up deportation flights to Haiti out of the small Texas border town Del Rio, starting as soon as Sunday.

Why it matters: Reports have emerged of more than 10,000 migrants, primarily from Haiti, crowded in a temporary camp under the international bridge in Del Rio. Hoping to find refuge in the United States, they've had to bear with filthy conditions and the scorching sun for days, per an NBC News affiliate.