Orascom Industries' Iowa Fertilizer Plant has asked the Iowa Department of Natural Resources to increase its water usage rights. Current permits allow for the Wever, Iowa facility to use up to 480 million gallons of water per year. The new request would up that total to 3.3 billion gallons annually.
The request took some Iowa residents by surprise, but senior environmental engineer at the DNR Mike Wilson told reporters today that most of that water would be sent back to the Mississippi river as crews remove the water to help the construction process.
Other greenfield plants have struggled with water usage as well. Northern Plains Nitrogen reports it will use up to 4,000 gallons of water per minute when production is underway. Cronus chemicals, which has eyed sites for a fertilizer plant of its own has explored contracts with municipalities for effluent water for production.
Local water supplies would not be impacted by Iowa Fertilizer Company's water usage. Anderson also noted that if local water users are impacted by the fertilizer company's draw there is a process in place for obtaining compensation.
The quest for domestic nitrogen is not an easy one, but the Iowa DNR believes the engineering studies that prompted the request for more water are accurate and the plan is feasible.