- Associated Press - Monday, September 22, 2014

GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (AP) - Grand Island is working with local industries to roughly halve its discharge of chloride from the city wastewater treatment plant, anticipating a state regulation that will take effect next year.

The city will have 4½ years to comply with the tougher standards from the state, which is following national water quality regulations, The Grand Island Independent said (https://bit.ly/ZCsPH4 ). There is state concern that high chloride, or salt, levels kill water fleas and flathead minnows, which are food for many fish species.

The city must drop the chloride levels from current discharges of 400 to 500 parts per million to a monthly average of 230 parts per million by 2019.

“There’s an old saying that I detest, but it’s a good one to know: ‘The solution to pollution is dilution,’ and we don’t have it,” said Grand Island wastewater plant engineer Marvin Strong said. “Omaha has the Missouri (River), with plenty of flows. We have a river that goes dry,” he said, alluding to the Platte River.

The wastewater plant discharges into a stream that empties into the Wood River, which also can go dry during the summer. The Wood River also empties into the Platte. The lower the flow of where the wastewater goes, the lower the chloride level must be, Strong said.

The city’s sewer plant isn’t designed to remove chloride, said Strong, who also said no domestic sewage plant is designed to remove chloride because it’s such an expensive process. That means Grand Island must reduce the amount of chloride coming into the plant, which Strong said means working closely with the biggest local source: the JBS beef plant.

JBS officials have said the primary reason for its chloride discharge is the 30 percent salt solution used in a brine to soak cattle hides being prepared for a tannery.

The JBS plant’s manager of environmental affairs, Mark Ritsema, said the company has a $2.5 million to $3 million quote to install an evaporation system there, and it could be more expensive because of the cost of natural gas used to provide the heat to evaporate the water.

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Information from: The Grand Island Independent, https://www.theindependent.com

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