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An award-winning wastewater treatment farm manager is balancing nature's eco-system while providing a valuable service to local residents in southern Utah. Kim Spendlove works for the Ash Creek Special Services District where he farms alfalfa and raises goats—125 of them.

The goats wander around seven lagoons where sewage is cleaned by aeration and nature as it filters from one pond to the next. By the time it gets to the last pond the water has been clarified. In fact, the water is often cleaner than that flowing in the nearby Virgin River. The water is then pumped through a sprinkler system to water and fertilize alfalfa and oat hay growing on the property. Goats love alfalfa.

Goats also enjoy weeds. Spendlove says there is no problem with weeds around the lagoons because the goats keep the grounds clear. He says, "They grow very well on it. They eat the weeds around the lagoons anytime they grow. There are few weeds that grow here that they don't eat."

When it comes time the goats are sold. Ash Creek and the taxpayers in this district make some money. Spendlove says, "When we first bought them you could buy a nanny at the auction for 20 bucks. Now they're sold for 98 dollars apiece." Earlier in the year, sales of the goats brought in $18,000. Profits from the goats offset the costs other communities face with more traditional waste-water treatment facilities.

The innovative wastewater treatment system is bringing statewide accolades to Kim Spendlove, who was recently voted "Operator of the Year"by the Water Environmental Association of Utah. Ash Creek Special Services District was awarded "Best Lagoon"by the Association.

The Ash Creek Special Service District, near Sand Hollow Reservoir, serves the residents of Toquerville, LaVerkin, Hurricane, and most of the unincorporated areas of Washington County east of I-15. While they benefit from this self-contained and self-sustaining ecological balance, they're also saving money on weed control. Spendlove estimates taxpayers save five to ten thousand dollars a year.

Read more from the Utah League of Cities and Towns on DeseretNews.com or visit their website at ulct.org.