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Water Reuse in a Poultry Facility

By John Herron, Hudson Foods


Hudson Foods completed, in the fall of 1995, a $1,038,000 capital improvement program at its Noel, Missouri facility. In the months following completion, Hudson consistently produced an effluent that was of extraordinary quality, far beyond the requirements of NPDES permit MO-0002500. Listed in the table below are actual data from January 1996 - date versus permit limits for the major constituents present in Hudson's discharge.

BOD (ppm) TSS Ammonia (ppm)
Permit Limits 30 30 7 winter, 4 summer
1/96 - 3/97 Average 8.4  9.1 0.91

During this same time period, the Noel Water Company, which supplies potable water to the Hudson facility, had increasing difficulty meeting the water demand of the facility. Noel Water Company indicated it may be necessary to install another well in the Roubidoux Aquifer. Consequently, Hudson management began investigating means of water conservation/pollution prevention in the fall of 1996.

Presented below are the four phases of the Pollution Prevention/Water Reuse Project, the results of the efforts, and the environmental, economic and community benefits of these efforts.


Hudson's efforts to reduce its water use have taken the form of four phases to date, with the final phase still ongoing. The elements of those phases are as described below:

Phase I (October 1996) - In the initial phase, management emphasis was placed on eliminating unnecessary water usage in the production facility. Weekend water usage was reduced to minimums, excessive washdown was eliminated and, in general, employees were made aware of the need to conserve water. No significant capital expenditures were necessary for this phase of the project.

Phase II (November 1996) - Hudson began reusing its superior quality effluent in this second phase. There are a number of areas, particularly in the Protein Recovery plant, where nonpotable water use is acceptable. Examples of this included water for the plant scrubbing system, and equipment and facility washdown water. Pumping systems were obtained, and piping systems modified and expanded to allow the use of this high quality, recycled effluent water in areas where nonpotable water usage is acceptable. Investment for this phase was $5,700.

Phase III (February 1996) - The third phase continued the recycling of the superior quality effluent; with the important distinction that recycled water was, for the first time, allowed to enter portions of the facility subject to USDA inspection and regulation. Plant offal screening systems utilize wash bars to keep the screens clear. A portion of the screened water is pumped back to the production area to flush offal materials to the screens. Commencing late February 1997, superior quality effluent from the wastewater treatment system was substituted for potable water in the screen wash bars. There is no contact of effluent water with product. Investment to accomplish this change was $10,500.

Phase IV - The facility's current phase builds upon the success of Phase III in utilizing the superior quality effluent water in nonpotable uses in production areas inspected and regulated by USDA. In partnership with USDA, Hudson is developing a data base to demonstrate the excellent quality of the effluent, and comparing those results to National Primary and Secondary Drinking Water Limits established by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, and the requirements by USDA for water reuse in production areas. Efforts are focused currently on first replacing potable water use in vacuum systems with effluent, and, as the database demonstrates the consistency of quality, expansion to other nonpotable uses in the processing plant. Part of the efforts is dedicated to developing a QA/QC program to ensure both Hudson and USDA acceptable quality standards are maintained when using effluent water. There will be no contact of effluent water with product. Total capital expenditures for this phase are anticipated to be $25,000.


Figure 1 lists the decreasing level of pollutant loading to the Elk River in this period.

Figure 2 demonstrates the reduction in total facility potable water consumption for the period October 1996 to March 1997.




Moderate manpower and capital requirements were necessary to achieve the results noted above. These expenditures have been more than justified by the economic, environmental and community benefits that have been provided.

Hudson's need to maintain a wholesome sanitary product, coupled with USDA regulations concerning water reuse in a production facility, limit how much water can be recycled at any single plant. However, Hudson has applied the lessons learned at Noel to other facilities in recent months, as noted below:

These projects are indicative of Hudson Foods' ongoing commitment to use - and reuse - water resources in a wise, conservative manner.


Hudson's Water Reuse/Pollution Prevention Project at Noel has resulted in substantial recycling of the plant's effluent to various usages throughout the production facility. Hudson, with only moderate capital and manpower commitments, has produced a number of environmental, economic and community benefits with this project. Further, Hudson has applied the knowledge gained at Noel to other company facilities, demonstrating an ongoing commitment to wise use of water resources.


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