Using innovative water reuse systems to meet water conservation goals in Georgia’s poultry processing industry
Kiepper, Brian H.
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In 2007, Georgia poultry processors slaughtered over 1.3 billion broilers (14.4% of U.S. production) in 21 processing plants across the state. Commercial broiler processing plants use an average of 6.9 gallons of potable water per bird, with most plants falling in the 5-10 gallon range. Thus in 2007 alone, Georgia poultry processors used approximately 9 billion gallons of water. Much of this water is used for scalding, chilling, bird washing, and plant sanitation. The water is also the primary means by which offal (inedible solids) is transported out of the various processing areas for collection and separation from wastewater. Recent severe drought conditions in Georgia and the adoption of the Georgia Statewide Comprehensive Water Plan (with subsequent development of the Water Conservation Implementation Plan) have placed new emphasis on water conservation by traditional industrial users. To meet these new demands while maintaining or in many cases increasing production, Georgia poultry processors have turned to innovative water reuse systems that maximize water use efficiency while maintaining strict food safety requirements. Current systems utilized by poultry processors are presented with advantages and disadvantages of each explored. A case study is presented showing the decision making process employed by the plant management team in water reuse technology selection. Results and impact of the water reuse system are also presented.