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DENCO II finally eligible for MPCA grant


Late last year, the city of Morris and DENCO II attempted to apply for a Minnesota Pollution Control demonstration grant to determine if storm water can be used efficiently for ethanol production.

However, as the application process progressed, the city and DENCO II learned that the grant only covered projects that would use sanitary sewer wastewater, not ground water. Since the city's treatment plant is about two miles away from the ethanol plant, it wouldn't be a feasible project.

But that changed earlier this month when Governor Mark Dayton signed the Legacy Bill, which was passed during the July special session.

The Legacy Bill uses funds from the state's half-cent sales tax for outdoor recreation projects as well as clean water, air and environmental projects.

District 11 Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen and District 11A Rep. Torrey Westrom sponsored the change in the legislation.

Because of those changes, DENCO II is now eligible to apply for a 50-50 matching grant from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to study the best way to collect and use storm water for ethanol production.

Once that study is completed, DENCO II can apply for a second 50-50 match grant to build the system.

DENCO II General Manager Mick Miller says this kind of public-private partnership jsut makes sense.

DENCO II has water issues related to the hardness of the water it must process for ethanol production. Plant officials say storm water is softer and wouldn't require as much processing, allowing the plant to reduce the amount of water it uses each day, the amount it discharges, and the energy needed to process the water.

The city benefits by having some of its storm water taken out of its system. The grant stipulates that the project must use at least 300,000 gallons per day as an offset for groundwater use

City Manager Blaine Hill says if you think about how much water has gone through the city's storm sewer system this year, you can begin to understand why this is such a good idea.

Both Miller and Hill said the local legislators were very supportive of the legislative change.

Rep. Torrey Westrom said this was important to "continue job creation in our cities and promoting value-added processing while also fostering more environmentally friendly ways to process ethanol."

Hill says the environment wins under this proposal too.

"This will reduce the burden on the city's ground water, storm water is better water than well water, you won't use the energy to process it, and this doesn't waste water."

The city and DENCO II officials will be meeting next week to determine how to proceed with the grant application.