How wastewater treated in Fargo will help produce soybean meal in Casselton
North Dakota has approved a $26.8 million loan to pay for a treatment plant at Fargo's regional wastewater complex to treat wastewater for the North Dakota Soybean Processors plant in Casselton.
FARGO — Every flush of a toilet that is treated by the Fargo Regional Wastewater Reclamation Facility is helping to make ethanol and soon will help to make crushed soybean meal.
The North Dakota Department of Environmental Quality has approved a $26.8 million low-interest loan to the Cass Rural Water District to build a treatment plant in Fargo and pipe treated wastewater 27 miles to the North Dakota Soybean Processors plant, now under construction in Casselton.
The arrangement is similar to one that since 2008 has piped Fargo wastewater treated to industrial water standards to the Tharaldson Ethanol plant, which produces 153 million gallons of ethanol per year.
“The water to be supplied from the treatment plant in Fargo is the best option found for the North Dakota Soybean Processors operation that will be of the quality and quantity that the plant needs to operate successfully and economically,” said Kelly Buchanan, marketing and communications director for CGB Enterprises, which is building the $400 million plant in partnership with Minnesota Soybean Processors.
The plant has requested the capability of using up to 375 million gallons per day of processed water from a new treatment plant that will be built at the Fargo Regional Wastewater Reclamation Facility, 3400 North Broadway.
The water will primarily be used for the soybean processing plant’s boiler and cooling tower, Buchanan said. The plant, under construction, is slated to go into operation in 2024.
The wastewater treated for the soybean plant will be built adjacent to the one that treats wastewater for the ethanol plant at the Fargo Regional Wastewater Reclamation Facility.
Jim Hausauer, the city of Fargo’s wastewater utility director, said wastewater will be treated by ultra-filtration and reverse osmosis before being piped to the soybean plant.
Using wastewater treated to industrial standards is an economical and environmentally friendly source of water, while providing a supplemental revenue source for the city, he said.
“It’s a win-win for the city and I think it’s a win for the soybean plant,” Hausauer said.
The city’s regional wastewater treatment plant treats about 15 million gallons of wastewater per day, and diverts about 1.4 million gallons to the Tharaldson plant, providing the city with gross revenues of $1.2 million per year. Hausauer estimates the city’s gross revenues for treating wastewater for the soybean plant initially will be $900,000 per year, with perhaps $700,000 in expenses.
“We generally call it revenue diversification,” he said. “This is just another opportunity to have another source of revenue.”
Treating wastewater for use by the Tharaldson Ethanol plant was one of the first such projects in the upper Midwest, Hausauer said.
“In the upper Midwest I think we’re kind of leading the charge,” he said.
The soybean plant also will return some of its processed water, about 250 gallons per minute, to the Fargo wastewater treatment complex through a return pipe that will be eight inches in diameter, Hausauer said.
By delivering the treated wastewater, the Cass Rural Water District benefits financially.
Jerry Blomeke, the district’s general manager, said it's not life-changing money, "but it helps keep the raptors down for everyone."
Cass Rural Water will receive about $100,000 to $150,000 per year above expenses, he said. The project also will help farmers and therefore the local economy, Blomeke said.
“For the region, the soybean processing is going to be an additional market for the local producers to sell their soybeans,” he said.
The goal is to have the system ready to operate by June 1, 2024, Blomeke said. The new treatment plant and pipeline will be financed by the $28.6 million loan from the state, repayable at 2% interest over 10 years.
“The patrons of the water district won’t pay one dime toward repayment of that loan,” Blomeke said. The loan will be repaid from proceeds for delivering the water. The infrastructure loan for the Tharaldson plant was about $15 million with a 20-year repayment schedule, he said.
Elizabeth Tokach-Duran, manager of the North Dakota Department of Environmental Quality’s clean water revolving fund, said the project will help to conserve water resources.
“The benefit of this, it keeps the potable water for our residents,” she said. “Reuse has been known to be a good, green citizen in the environmental world.”
The project’s initial pumping capacity of 375 million gallons per minute can be increased up to 570 million gallons per minute, Tokach-Duran said.
The Fargo Regional Wastewater Reclamation Facility is in the midst of an expansion that will double its capacity. The project will cost $168 million, including engineering studies and construction.
When completed, the plant’s capacity will increase and be able to handle a population of 271,000. Space at the wastewater treatment will enable future expansion up to a population of possibly 500,000, likely to be adequate for the next 20 to 40 years, Hausauer said.
The North Dakota Soybean Processors plant is expected to crush 42.5 million bushels of soybeans in its first year of operation. It will produce soybean oil and meal.