News Briefs: Chip Maker Wastewater Clogs Plant

In this week's news, an odor complaint yields a lot of corn, Colorado plans water reuse projects and a data center tests the limits of biogas.
News Briefs: Chip Maker Wastewater Clogs Plant

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When Perham, Minn., residents complained they couldn’t open their windows because of odor problems, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency investigated and issued large fines to chip-maker Barrol O’ Fun. According to The Star Tribune, the Minnesota maker of salty snacks was fined $85,000 from the MPCA for discharging excessive amounts of poorly treated wastewater along with $850,000 from the city for exceeding maximum limits of discharge. 

The city was also fined $70,000 by the MPCA for failing to “adequately regulate wastewater discharges.”

According to the Tribune, in 2013 the MPCA found enough corn pieces in the company’s wastewater to obstruct flow to the city’s wastewater treatment plant. During upgrades at the plant, enough corn was removed from the inlet pipes to create a 3-foot mound.

KLN Family Brands, Barrel O’ Fun’s parent company, and the city have agreed to wave charges in lieu of the company making capital improvements. The company will also pay the city’s portion of the fees.

In a statement from Barrel O’ Fun, the company claims it made no intentional violation of discharge and says it has already invested $700,000 to upgrade wastewater pretreatment capabilities.

Source: The Star Tribune

Colorado Anticipates Water Shortfall; Considers Water Reuse

As Colorado develops its first statewide water plan, officials have recognized they must include direct water reuse to sustain the state’s population and industrial growth. Of the eight water plans submitted from the state’s river basins, five include a water reuse element along with other solutions such as conservation and snowmelt capture.

The state water plan addresses an anticipated 163 billion gallon shortfall that could occur by 2050.

“We need to go as far and as fast as we can on water-reuse projects,” says Colorado Water Conservation Board Director James Eklund in The Denver Post.

Aurora and other cities have used indirect reuse, where partially treated wastewater is filtered through riverbanks and then treated at the city’s drinking water plant. The treated water is then blended with river water to augment municipal supplies.

“It’s not a question of ‘Can we do it?’ We can do it,” says John Rehring of Carollo Engineers in the Post article. “And because of growing affordability and public acceptance, we’re starting to see it implemented.”

Source: The Denver Post

Wyoming Data Center Runs on Biogas

A pilot program in Cheyenne, Wyo., is testing the reliability of biogas to power 200 servers connected to the Supercomputing Center of the University of Wyoming. Siemens, along with Microsoft and FuelCell Energy, implemented the program which uses methane generated from a wastewater treatment plant’s digestion tanks. At the data center, a fuel cell converts the gas to electricity through an electrochemical process.

According to an article on, the companies hope to demonstrate that by using intelligent hardware and software, even critical installations such as data centers can run on alternative energy.

A data system must have a reliable power supply that offers uninterrupted service. The Wyoming system monitors the biogas supply and issues early warnings to operators if power supply problems are encountered.



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