Improving and Protecting Water Quality from the Ground Up

Pulp and paper manufacturing requires a lot of water. Fortunately, Domtar pulp and paper mills are located in watersheds with ample water supplies. However, with good fortune comes great responsibility, and we are committed to protecting water quality at all of our manufacturing locations.

Since 2012, Domtar has reduced water use at our pulp and paper mills by 5 percent—equivalent to the amount of water contained in 8,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

As we continue to innovate, we are also working to improve water quality and serve as better stewards of our water resources, as highlighted in our 2017 Sustainability Report.

Our Approach to Water Quality

In 2016, roughly 94 percent of the water Domtar used at its pulp and paper mills was sourced from lakes and rivers. After use, we treat and return about 90 percent of that water to the watersheds. Some water evaporates into the atmosphere, and small amounts remain in the products we manufacture. Water is also reused an average of 10 times throughout the manufacturing process.

We are currently developing models to better understand the cost of using water in our operations. The findings will help us lower manufacturing costs and mitigate risks to water quality. We’re also involved in other projects focused on improving water quality and protecting this precious natural resource.

For example, in September 2017, Domtar’s Kamloops, British Columbia, pulp mill will complete its annual report on the environmental conditions in the lower Thompson River, which mill employees have been monitoring since the late 1970s. In 2004, other organizations joined the effort, including the British Columbia Ministry of Environment & Climate Change Strategy, Environment Canada, the City of Kamloops and the Village of Ashcroft. The partnership expanded monitoring to the North and South Thompson rivers and additional areas of the lower part of the river.

Water quality at Kamloops Mill
The bank of the South Thompson River near Domtar’s Kamloops, British Columbia, mill.

“Back in the 1970s, there was concern about high algae growth in the river, which was believed to be a result of manufacturing in the area,” said Kristin Dangelmaier, Kamloops Mill environmental manager. “There were also concerns about the health of the water for the fish.”

Decades of meticulous monitoring by the mill and other stakeholders found that: the presence of algae is natural and necessary; phosphorous levels in the river need to be maintained at low levels to discourage an algae bloom; and Domtar and its neighbors have equal responsibility in maintaining water quality in the Thompson River.

Domtar is committed to maintaining the water quality of all watersheds surrounding our pulp and paper mills and to understanding and lowering the financial and environmental costs of our water usage.

To learn more about Domtar’s approach to water quality and responsible manufacturing, read Working Smart for the Long Term.

Categories:  Environmental Responsibility

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