CELEBRATE OZARKS WATER: From your bathroom to the fields

BRANSON, Mo. (KY3) - A group of cities near Table Rock Lake is using some innovative technology to protect our water from contamination. They're turning human waste into safe-to-use fertilizer.

John Dees' field looks like any other field of grass but it's not. The dirt in which the grass is growing is unique.

"It's a good thing to get out here and apply it back to the ground," said Dees.

The story of Dees' dirt starts here in Branson. And, yes, it begins as human waste. The waste is getting turned into fertilizer.

"This is the next best step for wastewater treatment or sludge disposal," said lead operator Steve Kawka.

A $7 million dryer building has a room that's about 100 degrees..

"Yeah, and you really need to keep it warm," said Kawka.

By the time the stuff gets here. It's already been treated. But, this is like a super treatment. The tank in the building is a cooker. It gets really hot and kills any and all bacteria inside in about two hours.

Steve Kawka explains, "A lot of organisms, they need moisture to survive. If you deprive them of moisture and get them too hot they'll die."

The evaporated water steams off- and gets another round of treatment. The solids come out looking like bits of dry black dirt.

Hollister City Administrator Rick Ziegenfuss says, "We feel like it's a 21st century solution to an age old problem."

Seven cities have now invested in the Tri-Lakes Bio-Solids facility. They did it to protect the key asset in this region; the lakes.

Rick Ziegenfuss says, "Is that worth it..? Absolutely.., the future of our destination depends on the viability and the relevance of our environment. So, it's money well spent."

Farmer John Dees describes the smell, "It's more of a musty odor..."

For John Dees, it's not a perfect product. Commercially made fertilizers have a better balance for the soil. But, using this product helps protect the environment.

John Dees explains, "It can work and not get off into our rivers and streams... and let the soil uptake it and use it up."

The dirt eventually turns into hay. And, the hay starts the cycle all over again.

The cities spend about 630-thousand dollars a year to super treat the waste. They get a little bit of the money back when farmers buy the stuff. The farmers do take 100 percent of the end product.

Click HERE to read a detailed presentation on the Tri-Lakes BioSolids Facility: