While we met our goal to reduce water consumption by 10 percent by the end of fiscal year 2011 one year early, we continue to focus on water reduction projects at our facilities. In 2010, at various production plants, we incorporated new equipment designs and process modifications, including closed-loop cooling systems and technologies that recycle gray water to reduce water use at the source. Our inclusion of these initiatives allowed for a significant decrease in water consumption. Total water use during 2010 was 5.1 billion gallons – an absolute reduction of 30 million gallons from the previous year. Since 2006, total water reduction was 11 percent when normalized for production – an absolute reduction of 459 million gallons.

Water use reduction was accomplished through ongoing educational initiatives with employees at our operations and equipment improvements.  Our water sources include municipal utilities and company-owned wells.

Total Withdrawal of Water by Source

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Total Water Use

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Water Initiatives

Recent projects to reduce water consumption have included:

  • Saving water and energy through closed-loop cooling in Knoxville, IA and Rochelle, IL: In fall 2010, we completed closed-loop cooling systems at both our Knoxville, IA and Rochelle, IL, facilities to reduce water use and wastewater discharge. Now, instead of the water used to cool equipment, such as microwave transmitters, ammonia compressors, and packaging machines being discharged to wastewater, the system reuses the water. In Knoxville, the system also captures waste heat to reduce the amount of natural gas being used to preheat boiler feed water and generate hot water to the plant. The closed-loop cooling system at our Rochelle, IL, facility saves 157,000 gallons of water per day. The system at our Knoxville, IA, facility saves 98,000 gallons of water per day and also saves energy by reducing electricity use by reducing load on the ammonia refrigeration system.

Water Discharge

Water discharges are an important part of our operations and a primary focus of our environmental programs. Our goal goes beyond full compliance and extends to developing collaborative partnerships with the communities in which we operate. Examples of our efforts include:

  • Improving pretreatment systems at our Jennie-O Turkey Store plants in Willmar, MN, Montevideo, MN, and Pelican Rapids, MN. For example, we invested $1 million to upgrade the pretreatment system at our Benson Avenue location in Willmar, MN.
  • Installing advanced pretreatment equipment in Atlanta to help ensure ongoing compliance that will minimize operational costs.
  • Entering into joint engineering studies with the cities of Lathrop, CA, and Browerville, MN. Swiss American Sausage in Lathrop, CA, and Dan’s Prize in Browerville, MN, have worked collaboratively to identify the most efficient method of treating water and to ensure long-term compliance.
  • Continuing to develop a long-term partnership with the City of Austin. A team composed of individuals from our Austin (MN) Plant and the City of Austin meet regularly to discuss compliance, operations and mutual goals.

Total Water Discharge by Type and Destination

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