Western Sugar Cooperative’s sugar beet processing factory in Fort Morgan, Colo., has received general approval from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) Water Quality Control Division to begin upgrades to their facility off Interstate 76 for pretreatment of industrial wastewater. The facility received air quality and permit violations in May 2018 for foul odors coming from their plant, and the pretreatment upgrades are a result of that violation, along with a $2 million fine.
The solutions Western Sugar has proposed involves pretreatment at their facility before sending their industrial wastewater to the Fort Morgan Wastewater Treatment Plant. The city is open to the possibility of gaining a customer in Western Sugar, but the CDPHE has requested answers to additional questions regarding the transition.
“We have concerns about Western Sugar’s ability to reduce flow to the proposed [quantity of wastewater] and the potential impacts from Western Sugar’s wastewater to the city’s facility,” said Kelly Morgan, the clean water enforcement manager for CDPHE.
CDPHE has requested a report detailing the reduction of water quantity, the chemicals used by Western Sugar that may impact the city’s wastewater treatment plant and the temperature the wastewater would potentially be transported, as reported by the Fort Morgan Times. Additionally, the state requested the sugar beet company further research how the proposed plan would impact their clean water permit.
The main concern stems from high levels of biological oxygen demand (BOD) found in Western Sugar’s industrial wastewater. The company is collaborating with the city’s wastewater treatment plant to investigate the best way to treat their wastewater and work together, without impacting the community’s wastewater treatment.
“First we look at the BOD and then we assess a long list of chemicals,” said Brett Nation, utilities director for the city of Fort Morgan. “We don’t want to pump any water into the South Platte River that doesn’t meet the regulations and condition of what the health department allows.”