Joined: 24 Nov 2005
|Posted: Mon Feb 20, 2006 10:01 am Post subject: Ethanol expansion could hinge on water
|BISMARCK, N.D. - Ethanol plants need more than corn: If all the proposed factories in North Dakota were built, they would use more than 1 billion gallons of water.
Drought in future years could curtail North Dakota's burgeoning ethanol industry or at least limit potential plant sites, particularly in the Red River Valley, officials say.
Ethanol plants are big water users. The Sioux Falls, S.D.-based American Coalition for Ethanol says it takes at least 3 gallons of water to produce 1 gallon of ethanol fuel.
"One of the things plants look for when they locate, they want to be somewhere where they won't impact the water supply," said Ron Lamberty, a coalition vice president. "They usually try to locate at places where there is plentiful water."
In South Dakota, Lamberty said, "We've seen plants where they said, 'we can't build here because we don't have the right quantity or quality of water."
That has not yet happened in North Dakota, industry officials say, but it could if the state experiences a stretch of dry years.
"If we're in a drought, there's lots of places that have the potential" to be prohibitive to new industrial plants, said Doug Emerson, a hydrologist in Bismarck with the U.S. Geological Survey. "Even if water exists, it might be appropriated for some other use."
"If the complexity of our economies is impossible to sustain [with likely future oil supply], our best hope is to start to dismantle them before they collapse." George Monbiot