We are committed to being a good steward of the water we use. Our pulp and paper mills rely on having an uninterrupted flow of water to produce cost-effective, high-quality products. Every day, our mills use millions of gallons of water, which are cleaned before use and again before being returned to their source, in many cases cleaner than when they entered our process.
Hawesville Mill applied continuous improvement principles to make small, relatively inexpensive upgrades, repairs and process changes that not only save money but, more importantly, also conserve vital water resources for our operations and the ecosystem around our facility.
“The savings we realized could apply to many pulp and paper facilities,” says Hawesville Mill Manager Grant Forrest. “Capital is always tight, but by identifying some low-hanging fruit and other opportunities, we were able to use a series of small, well-planned and strategically timed projects to create large water savings across the mill.”
Hawesville Water Conservation Efforts Pay Off
The Hawesville water conservation project was approved in 2016, with the majority of the improvements realized in 2017. For the Hawesville Mill, this project was about more than simply conserving a precious natural resource.
Because of the mill’s increased production of specialty papers, it was consuming more water as part of the manufacturing process. In addition, the mill was experiencing water pressure issues due to its well-water field being near capacity. Both factors made 2017 an ideal time for action.
The Hawesville water conservation project started with a series of facility tours, which allowed colleagues to identify locations where clean water was leaking or going to sewer. The team found 17 opportunities for improvement.
The mill estimated costs as well as savings for each of the projects. Some were as simple as fitting a little bit of pipe back to one of the cooling towers; others required more time and capital to address. The larger projects generally resulted in more water savings. These projects included an upgrade to the recovery water salvage pump and a system to salvage paper machine seal water.
The Hawesville water conservation projects ranged in cost from nearly nothing to more than $100,000. The mill expects to see a return on investment from these projects in less than two years.
The collective water savings from all of the completed projects amounted to nearly 2,200 gallons per minute or nearly 3.2 million gallons per day.
These numbers are even more impressive in the context of the mill’s total water intake, which has decreased 34 percent over the past few years. This marked decrease has contributed to savings in other areas of the mill, such as the costs to pump, treat and heat process water, boiler feed water and effluent.
Reducing water use and associated production and operating costs will help ensure the continued viability of the Hawesville Mill, as well as the many more jobs created upstream and downstream in our supply chain, from loggers to truckers to local businesses.
“We take pride in being a good steward of the environment and being a responsible corporate citizen in the communities we operate in,” says Bill Edwards, vice president of manufacturing for Domtar Pulp and Paper. “While we don’t have evidence the Hawesville water conservation project will lead to increased pulp and paper sales, our customers and investors are increasingly looking at sustainability metrics such as water use when making purchasing and investment decisions.”
Some of the project’s unquantifiable benefits are related to the ecosystem around the mill, such as the local aquifer — a vital, shared community resource that will continue to thrive with the mill’s improved environmental stewardship practices.
Learn more about our sustainable principles in our 2018 Sustainability Report.