NCRA in McPherson is working on a $40.6 million project that will allow the plant to use treated wastewater from the city of McPherson.
NCRA estimates 1.5 million gallons of water per day will not have to be pumped from the aquifer because of the project.
The plant uses about 2,000 gallons of water per minute. The project is estimated to cut NCRA use of water from the aquifer by 40 to 50 percent, Richard Leicht, vice president of refining, said.
“Reuse of city wastewater is more costly to NCRA than pumping well water from the aquifer, but something needed to be done about the falling level of the aquifer, and NCRA decided to act, benefiting the community, farmers and the refinery,” NCRA stated in an email to the Sentinel.
Utilizing the city of McPherson’s treated wastewater as a water source for NCRA is something NCRA has considered and studied since 2001. Various engineering studies have been done and the water has been pilot tested with proposed technology to verify the water can be purified to the necessary standards to be used as makeup for the cooling towers.
In order to utilize the treated water as a water source, the water must first be collected and pumped to a storage tank located on NCRA property. Improvements in treatment technology are necessary to remove the contaminants in the treated water to meet the necessary quality to be used in the cooling towers.
Two projects will be completed to accomplish the reuse of this water. The first project will install a collection basin and pumping station at the city property. It also will install the necessary piping to transport the water from the city treatment plant to a storage tank at the NCRA facility.
The second project will be the construction of a Water Treatment Plant, which uses membrane technologies. The membrane facility will employ microfiltration for suspended solids removal and nanofiltration technology to remove the dissolved solids such as calcium, silica, chlorides and others. These contaminants must be removed before entering the cooling tower to reduce deposit and scale formation within the cooling system of the refinery.
Also as part of the membrane plant project, an upgrade to the NCRA’s boiler water treatment facility will be made. The upgrade will consist of the installation of microfilters for solids removal and will employ reverse osmosis technology for the removal of the dissolved solids.
The project to collect and transport the city wastewater is estimated to cost $2.6 million, and the project to upgrade the NCRA Water Treatment facility is estimated to cost $38 million.
Both of these projects are in the final engineering phases, and construction is expected to begin this spring. Project completion is estimated for the beginning of 2014. Contracts for the construction have not been awarded for either project yet. When construction activities are at their peak, an estimated 50 construction contractors