Plant’s water source still unknown

By Marlena Hartz: CNJ staff writer

A water source for a planned ethanol plant in Clovis has yet to be identified, according to ConAgra Trade Group officials.

ConAgra spokeswoman Melissa Baron said no final decisions have been made about the type of water the plant will use in its operations.

“There is no update at this point,” Baron said Tuesday.

“We are working to determine a water source,” she said.

In an early July interview with the Clovis News Journal, Vice President for Business Strategies Martin Higgins projected plant officials would identify the source of water for the plant within 30 days. Since that statement, 53 days have passed.

There are several water supply options for ConAgra, officials previously said. One is using wastewater from the city of Clovis, another is fresh water.

An official with a local economic development agency said wastewater from the city will probably be the primary source of water for the plant.

“We just need to get things nailed down,” Clovis Industrial Development Corp. Executive Director Chase Gentry said.

Phone calls to a Clovis wastewater official were not returned as of press time.
Plant officials are still in the engineering phase of the venture, according to Gentry. The plant infrastructure must be further sketched and the cost of purchasing water must be set before any agreement between the city and ConAgra is finalized, Gentry said.

A joint venture of ConAgra Trade Group and Carlyle/Riverstone Renewable Energy, the dry-mill plant will use 880,000 gallons of water per day, or some 300 million gallons per year, according to plant officials.

Annually, the plant will churn out 105 million gallons of corn-based ethanol for use as alternative fuel in states such as California, Texas, New Mexico and Colorado, plant officials have said.

Construction of the plant, to be located on U.S. Highway 60/84, is slated to begin in October. The plant should open its doors about 18 months later, Gentry said.