Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Cooperative (SMBSC) operates the largest sugarbeet processing facility in the United States. In 1999, SMBSC implemented a five-year plan to modernize and expand its Renville facility to increase processing capacity. Barr supported the cooperative in these efforts and completed an environmental assessment that evaluated the impacts of the anticipated 40,000-acre increase in sugarbeet acreage.
SMBSC also needed to revise its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit to increase the average treated process water discharge. Barr prepared the NPDES permit application, submitted it to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, and assisted with negotiations. The permit application included a nondegradation (the Minnesota equivalent of antidegradation at the federal level) analysis, including an evaluation of alternatives to the proposed discharge and additional control measures. The permit issued in 1999 had unique provisions, including a phosphorus-trading program, discharge restrictions during summer low-flow conditions, and an annual phosphorus-mass-loading cap.
After the factory came online, SMBSC found that dissolved minerals in the sugarbeets and additives were present in treated effluent at higher concentrations than allowed by the permit. SMBSC and Barr evaluated the process, treatment technologies, and discharge alternatives, finding that a variance was needed. We assisted SMBSC’s preparation of a variance request, which was approved by MPCA.
Since its 2009 permit-expiration, Barr continues to work with SMBSC on its NPDES permitting and compliance, specifically helping to develop and implement a long-term permitting and wastewater-management strategy. Barr provides value to SMBSC through our integrated environmental and engineering teams, which work through complex multidisciplinary issues relating to wastewater management and permitting.