County’s top wa­ter users take stock

Gen­eral Mills tops list of con­sumers

The Covington News - - FRONT PAGE - By Rachel Oswald

In the wake of Gov. Sonny Per­due’s or­der that 61 North Ge­or­gia coun­ties cut their wa­ter con­sump­tion by 10 per­cent, many of the city of Cov­ing­ton’s top wa­ter users have taken stock of their own wa­ter use to look for ways to cut back.

Ac­cord­ing to a list sup­plied by the city of Cov­ing­ton, the city’s top wa­ter con­sumers are a mix­ture of in­dus­tries, gov­ern­ment agen­cies and apart­ment com­plexes.

The city’s top wa­ter con­sumer, Gen­eral Mills in­stalled a waste­water treat­ment cen­ter in Au­gust 2006 on its Cov­ing­ton grounds.

Ac­cord­ing to Jeff Han­ratti, cor­po­rate en­vi­ron­men­tal en­gi­neer for Gen­eral Mills, this mea­sure helped Cov­ing­ton Gen­eral Mills re­duce its wa­ter con­sump­tion by 60 per­cent over the last 18 months.

Heidi Geller, spokesper­son for Gen­eral Mills said this mea­sure has re­sulted in wa­ter sav­ings of an es­ti­mated 100 mil­lion gal­lons of wa­ter or enough wa­ter to serve nearly 800 homes a year.

“This ob­vi­ously has been an ef­fort that we’ve com­mit­ted to,” said Geller, adding that the com­pany had part­nered with the city of Cov­ing­ton for a num­ber of years to look for ways to cut back on its wa­ter use.

Ac­cord­ing to an e-mail sent to The News by Geller, the waste­water treat­ment fa­cil­ity treats dis­charged wa­ter and pu­ri­fies a por­tion of it for non-food con­tact use within the plant. This process al­lows the plant to re­use as much as 250,000 gal­lons of wa­ter on dust re­moval and in the cool­ing tower.

“Aside from sav­ing the com­pany money in mu­nic­i­pal wa­ter and sewer fees, this project elim­i­nated the need for the city of Cov­ing­ton to ex­pand their wa­ter and waste­water util­i­ties,” wrote Geller.

Han­ratti said Gen­eral Mills was com­mit­ted to cut­ting its con­sump­tion lev­els in Cov­ing­ton by 10 per­cent since this pe­riod one year ago and be­lieves the com­pany might al­ready be there.

An­other top wa­ter con­sumer in the city, Fibervi­sion, a com­pany that man­u­fac­tures syn­thetic fibers, has also taken steps to re­duce its wa­ter con­sump­tion.

Scott Pow­ell, plant man­ager of Fibervi­sion, said the com­pany has in the past month switched some of its cool­ing tow­ers to run on well wa­ter in­stead of wa­ter drawn from the county’s reser­voirs.

In ad­di­tion, Pow­ell said the com­pany has for the past year low­ered the amount of cool­ing air it runs inside the plant. While this mea­sure has caused some phys­i­cal dis­com­fort for em­ploy­ees within the plant, Pow­ell said they un­der­stand the rea­son for it.

With the chang­ing of the sea­sons, Pow­ell said the lower tem­per­a­tures have also al­lowed the com­pany to use less wa­ter in its coolant tow­ers.

“A lot of our wa­ter is evap­o­rated and is used to cool sys­tems,” Pow­ell said. “Just by the chang­ing of the sea­son our wa­ter us­age is down 40 per­cent since Au­gust. If you look at a chart of our wa­ter us­age, it’s kind of like a smile with win­ter be­ing in the mid­dle.”

Ac­cord­ing to Pow­ell, dur­ing this time of year Fibervi­sion typ­i­cally uses 750,000 gal­lons of wa­ter per day.

“We strive to be good cit­i­zens,” Pow­ell said of the com­pany’s ef­forts to lower its wa­ter con­sump­tion. “Most of the folks that work here are from around here so it’s cer­tainly in our best in­ter­ests to do all that we can.”

The city’s fourth largest wa­ter con­sumer, New­ton Med­i­cal Cen­ter has com­pletely ceased wa­ter­ing its out­door land­scape in the wake of Per­due’s or­der said Sharon Bar­bour, spokesper­son for the hospi­tal.

In ad­di­tion Bar­bour said the hospi­tal ex­pects to use less wa­ter in its coolant tow­ers this win­ter on ac­count of the cold weather.

Billy Bouch­illon, pub­lic works di­rec­tor for the city of Cov­ing­ton, said the city has in­stalled a re­use sys­tem on its own waste­water treat­ment fa­cil­ity which he es­ti­mates will save the city 600,000 gal­lons of wa­ter a month.

“We’re tak­ing waste wa­ter that’s been treated and us­ing it in some pro­cess­ing equip­ment,” Bouch­illon said. “Some of the wa­ter is just di­verted back into the plant. It’s stuff that’s not get­ting back into the sys­tem.”

Bouch­illon said some of the larger wa­ter users whom he has spo­ken with have in­di­cated that they have in­stalled low-flow faucets and low-flow toi­lets in their bath­rooms.

Bouch­illon also said the city is is­su­ing warn­ings to houses with ob­vi­ous wa­ter leaks that they have five to seven days to fix their wa­ter leak be­fore the city will turn off their wa­ter.

“It’s just one of the things we’re do­ing to meet that ex­tra 10 per­cent that the gov­er­nor wants,” Bouch­illon said.

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