Poet has green plan for waterEthanol plant officials seeking permission to use storm water.
By: Anna Jauhola, The Daily Republic
LOOMIS — In a continuing effort to operate as green as possible, Poet Biorefining is the first ethanol plant in the state to apply to use storm water in the facility rather than discharging it.
Through an internal program called total water recovery, the ethanol plant is already reusing waste water.
“The only water we used to take was non-contact processed water,” said Dean Frederickson, general manager of Poet Biorefining, located in Loomis, a small unincorporated community north of Mitchell.
“That water we used to clean filters, we would flush off,” Frederickson said. “On the first cut we’d filter that, but we needed to clean those filters out so we’d flush those.”
The water would then go into three ponds to let algae settle and later be released into Dry Run Creek. However, the plant figured out a way to reuse that water in the industrial process, Frederickson said.
If a great deal of rain fell, the plant would have to discharge storm water. As the plants permits are written, officials have to collect storm water, make sure it meets codes and then discharge it.
“The way the laws are in South Dakota, we don’t own that water,” Frederickson said. “We have to apply for water rights to use that water.”
There are two storm water storage ponds on the property, which have a 31.2 acre holding capacity, according to a legal recently published in The Daily Republic.
Poet has a program in the company called Ingreenuity, which is “a conscious effort to reduce our footprint on the planet,” he said.
During his 10-year career in the ethanol business, Frederickson said the industry has reduced its water consumption from more than 4 gallons of water per 1 gallon of ethanol to less than 2 gallons of water per gallon of ethanol produced.
“The amount of water used per gallon of ethanol is an indicator of efficiency,” Frederickson said.
Frederickson and other officials have discussed and planned to use storm water for about a year.
The plant uses 440,000 gallons of water per day, and the city of Mitchell currently charges $1.35 per 1,000 gallons of water used from Lake Mitchell. That amount has been paying off the bonds the city used to place a pipeline from Lake Mitchell to the ethanol plant prior to the plant opening five years ago.
“Most of the water we use ends up either in our final product, ethanol, or it’s evaporated off for cooling,” he said. “Or when we dry our feed too, it removes the water from the feed.”
Frederickson said he estimates the plant could start using the water in about a month if the state approves the usage permit.