How much water does Tyson need for its new poultry plant?

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Water quality and pollution, those are the concerns that opponents to a proposed Tyson chicken processing plant frequently bring up.

Where does the water come from?

Where does it go?

What comes first?

The chicken? Or the egg?

“Given the quantity of water and the pressure they would require they are definitely going to need a larger pipe to handle larger capacity,” says Trisha Purdon, Executive Director of Montgomery County Action Council.

Tyson is looking for a new site in Kansas, but they have to find the water to supply it.

While the company is trying to reduce its water usage, they still use a lot. In 2016, the company used more than 31 billion gallons of water, an increase of two billion since 2014.

Kansas communities vying for the new plant will need to meet the demand.

For the proposed site in Coffeyville, the Action Council has over 100 acres set up, seven miles northeast of town.

Purdon, who is leading the council, tells KSN, the Tyson plant would require 2,000,000 gallons of water every day.

Water from the Verdigris River would be sent to the water treatment plant, the water would then get piped underground to the Tyson plant.

But Purdon says KDHE and Tyson are still trying to figure out the safest way to dispose of the water after it is used.

“KDHE regulates that, as well as Kansas water office, and it is regulated pretty strictly,” says Purdon.

Tyson officials say they’ll either build their own wastewater treatment plant on site before sending it back into the environment, or the water will be pre-treated and sent back to the community’s treatment plant to be cleaned.

It may even be offered to farmers for use.

“There are a lot of nutrients in that water. So farmers could use it to irrigate their crops,” adds Purdon.

KSN has reached out to the Greater Wichita Partnership about what sites are being considered in Sedgwick County but have not heard back yet. But those sites, like the one in Coffeyville, would have to meet the water needs of Tyson.


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