Ecolab’s Nalco Water Plant in Garyville, Louisiana, Certified as Water Stewardship Leader
Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS) Standard Case Study
Ecolab’s manufacturing facility located in Garyville, Louisiana, is a reaction plant that primarily produces water treatment chemical blends and polymers. The Garyville facility is located in the Lower Mississippi River Basin, which is part of the largest watershed in the United States, the Mississippi River Watershed. Process water is pulled directly from the Mississippi River and treated on site.
The facility is Ecolab’s second largest water user and relies on potable water from St. John’s Parrish which sources water from the Lions Water Treatment plant pulling from the Mississippi River. Wastewater is treated on site and discharged directly to the Mississippi River, while stormwater is discharged to the Garyville canal which drains to Lake Maurepas.
In alignment with Ecolab’s commitment to a holistic approach to water management across its manufacturing facilities, the company implemented the Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS) International Water Standard at its Garyville plant.
The team at Ecolab’s Garyville plant assessed the facility for opportunities to decrease water use across operations to meet the team’s objective to reduce water use per ton of product by 13% from its 2018 baseline by 2022. Water reduction opportunities were identified in the following areas: condensate return, cooling tower optimization, demineralizer regeneration, wastewater recycle, production campaigning, sand filter backwashing and washout optimization. Prioritization of these opportunities involved collaboration across the Nalco Water Commercial Engineering, Corporate Sustainability and Garyville Engineering and Safety, Health and Environment (SHE) teams.
Feasibility studies were performed to chart the water reduction impact, capital and operating cost of solutions. Ecolab’s Water Risk Monetizer was also utilized to understand the water risk at the plant. Implementation of water reduction projects was prioritized throughout the plant to achieve savings. Of the five water outcomes of the AWS Standard, Garyville focused on sustainable water balance, good water quality status and important water related areas (IWRA) balancing relevancy and risk to the site.
Ecolab’s Water Stewardship Position formalizes Ecolab’s global commitment to responsible water stewardship by identifying opportunities for the company and its customers to use water resources in a manner that benefits business, communities and nature.
A total annual water reduction of 22 million gallons, an equivalent to $357,000 in risk-adjusted cost savings.
The solutions below contributed to the Garyville plant's progress toward its water reduction goal. The following projects help improve the facility’s water balance and have been completed to reduce overall water use:
- Reuse of multiple sand filter backwash systems to reduce the plant’s intake of river water. First project completed in 2021 with a reduction of 12% of overall water use and a similar project completed in 2023 resulting in a reduction of an additional 15% of overall water use
- Reduction of washouts from campaigning in the latex area to reduce water use by 2%
- Standardization of washout times for railcars and reaction vessels resulting in a 2.5% reduction of overall water use
- Recovery of spent caustic from deionized water unit regenerations resulting in a savings of 2,000 gallons per day
- Restroom upgrades, including waterless urinals to reduce potable water use by 0.5%
- Pilot study on a full plant recycling system that could recover up to 45% of the site’s wastewater
- Cooling tower replacement, in 2022, lead to a reduction of 9,000 cubic meters of water per year
The following projects are ongoing:
- Condensate recovery, with the goal of recovering 70-80% of all condensate on-site
- Cooling tower replacement
- Vessel washout standardization and optimization
- Pump seal flush replacements and pump seal pot installation
- Multiple small recycle streams throughout the plant including reuse of the plant’s cooling tower blowdown
- Updates to our 3DTrasar technology
- Integration of Water Flow Intelligence Tracking
- Deionized (DI) regen water recovery and recycle
To maintain good water quality of both process water and wastewater, internal daily water testing is carried out in addition to weekly third-party wastewater testing to comply with Garyville's wastewater permit. The plant has a strict testing regimen and detailed environmental spill emergency response plan which were further strengthened through AWS Standard implementation. Because the water is directly discharged to the Mississippi River, efforts in achieving good water quality status help contribute to the health of the most important IWRA in the Garyville facility's catchment.
- 22 million gallons of water reduced, equivalent to $357,000 in risk-adjusted cost savings from 2018-2022 annualized from 2018 baseline.
- 2% reduction of water use per ton of product realized in 2022 from 2018 baseline.
- From 2020 to 2021 the site increased water usage intensity by 9.3%, largely due to changes in production. The site is working with planning to improve these related issues.
At the plant level, the Utilities Team leader is ultimately responsible for incoming and outgoing water treatment. The site’s environmental engineer and SHE manager are responsible for submitting compliance with water related laws and regulations including wastewater permit compliance and environmental or water-related issues on site. In both cases, the site’s plant manager is ultimately accountable.
The Sustainability Team is guided and advised by the Sustainability Executive Advisory Team, which is made up of the company’s most senior business and divisional leaders. In addition, Ecolab’s Water Stewardship Position and Global SHE position are publicly available and serve as commitments to and guidance on water-related issues and compliance. Site water-related compliance information is available upon request.
Water Stewardship Journey
In addition to internal operational improvements, Ecolab’s Garyville facility’s external water stewardship activities are ongoing. The largest IWRA in Garyville’s catchment is the Mississippi River, which is crucial to plant operations and users in the area. Shared challenges between the plant and relevant, local stakeholders include natural disasters, such as hurricanes and tropical storms, flooding, water pollution, subsidence, water infrastructure and loss of wetlands and native species. To address these shared issues, Ecolab collaborates with other water users in the basin.
Ecolab is an active participating company in the Louisiana Water Synergy Project (LWSP). Founded by the US Business Council for Sustainable Development (USBCSD), the LWSP works with over 20 companies in the Lower Mississippi River Basin to address a wide range of water supply, water quality, stormwater and coastal resiliency issues. As part of quarterly meetings, Ecolab shares their water stewardship strategy and journey while championing the AWS Standard.
Ecolab also participates bimonthly in the Community Action Panel (CAP), a group created by Nalco Water and Marathon in 1996 to engage local stakeholders, including local business and community members, on water-related issues. Ecolab continually shares its AWS journey with CAP and seeks feedback on practices in the five outcome areas of the AWS Standard.
Moreover, the Ecolab Foundation supports the Loch Leven project in partnership with The Nature Conservancy (TNC) to restore and enhance 10,000 wetland acres and provide 12.1 billion gallons of flood storage capacity to local communities. In addition to local water stewardship efforts, Ecolab’s global giving program, Solutions for Life, enhances the company’s mission to conserve and protect fresh water through partnership with two global non-governmental organizations (NGOs): TNC and Project WET Foundation.
An illustrated version of the Garyville case study can be viewed on pages 25-26 of the 2019 Ecolab Corporate Sustainability Report.