News from Patrick Flynn

In deep horse stuff

One interesting aspect of serving on the Assembly is how people communicate with me.  When there is a city issue that strokes folks’ interest, a large snowman in Airport Heights, for example, they typically go to the Assembly home page and click on the link that allows them to e-mail all members.  Because of this, those of us who monitor our e-mail have the opportunity to learn about issues throughout Anchorage, not just those in our respective districts.  (We also hear about how to drive more traffic to our site, nifty music opportunities in Germany and other unrelated topics.)

So, even though there aren’t many horse owners in the neighborhoods of Downtown, Fairview, Government Hill, Mountain View and South Addition, I’m well aware of the plight caused by the lack of a composting venue for horse manure.  One interesting aspect about this little dilemma is that my colleagues who represent the areas where most horse owners reside (South Anchorage and Eagle River/Chugiak) played roles in getting us to this point.  This dates back to one of the first issues I addressed as a new Assembly member, the curbside recycling ordinance.

Then as now, the lease for the composting facility at Point Woronzof had not been renewed and a new location for composting was needed.  The administration’s original recycling proposal included provisions for Solid Waste Services to perform composting, though it would have cost some money.  Several of my colleagues didn’t like the idea of a government-owned utility providing a service previously available through the private sector so, when Evergreen Nursery agreed to start a compost program, the SWS composting program was deleted thus scaling back the proposed tipping fee increase.  At that time City Manager Mike Abbott offered what turned out to be prophetic comments, that SWS could not quickly establish a composting program should the private sector fail and we would face a difficult situation.

As you may have read, the odor from Evergreen’s compost pile in South Anchorage began to generate neighborhood complaints and subsequent transport of the material to the Mat-Su Valley hasn’t turned out so well either.  So now we’re in that uncomfortable place Mr. Abbott predicted months ago; horse manure is going to the city landfill in Birchwood, which is both more costly and less environmentally friendly than previous practice.  I will say that comments from some horse owners, demanding that MOA provide low-cost service to them regardless of the costs that would be borne by non-owners, haven’t engendered much sympathy.

My South Anchorage colleague, Jennifer Johnston, has taken the lead on this issue and seems to remain committed to a private sector solution that has yet to materialize.   Since I don’t represent many horse owners that may be acceptable for now but come April or May, when the many gardeners in my district discover there’s no place to take their compost material, it’ll be a different story.  If you have ideas on solving this dilemma I’m glad to hear them!



P.S. Please don’t draw any conclusions about the coincidence of a post on horse manure appearing on a Tuesday with an Assembly meeting!

This contribution was made on Tuesday, 06. January 2009 at 17:05 and was published under the category Neighborhoods. You can follow comments on this entry through the RSS-Feed.

«  –  »


  1. Patrick,
    I would agree with Jennifer on this as well. Not all horse owners are hauling their manure to the landfill. Many have established agreements with farmers in the valley who want the material for fertilizer. This demand will grow with the dramatic increase in synthetic fertilizer caused by the Agrium plant closure. It will take a bit more time, but within a few weeks the marketplace will have a solution. It may not be back to the subsidized price level that Pt Worenzoff allowed for years, but it won’t be anywhere near the price paid at the landfill.

    Comment: jeff – 10. January 2009 @ 8:25 am

  2. I am in the process of finding a solution for the manure problems in Anchorage. I have submitted 2 grant applications…1) for a manure to biodiesel facility in Point Mac and 2) a bio-electricity facility to be located in Sutton Alaska. The cost of container, transport & disposal will start at about $34 per horse per month with pickup frequencies between 3-14 days depending on supply. I will be conducting a feasibility study to obtain an accurate manure tonnage availability. ASWCD gave me a rough guestimate of 43K-120K tonnes which is quite the range.

    If the grant(s) is/are approved, the combined facilities will consume approximately 50,000-90,000 tonnes annually.

    I’ll keep you posted on the progress.

    Comment: Becky – 13. August 2009 @ 6:00 pm

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.



Community councils


Local government


State government


RSS Feeds – Admin


Copyright - Patrick Flynn, All Rights Reserved