Perdue Farms’ wastewater operation in Perry, Ga., has the feel of a nature preserve. The poultry processing complex is situated on 700 rural acres with abundant wildlife. Half of that acreage is set aside for wildlife habitat conservation. Alligators sun on the banks of the wastewater facility’s holding ponds, where flocks of Sandhill Cranes feed and hawks and eagles linger. Black bear and panther have been sighted.

The wastewater operation treats flow from the slaughter and processing of 312,000 birds a day and the production of 314,000 pounds of cooked chicken in the further-processing plant. By the time the treated effluent flows into a stream that leads to Big Indian Creek, it is crystal-clear in appearance and environmentally superior to the ultimate receiving waters of the Ocmulgee River.

Wastewater technologies  

The Perry complex was a beer brewery before being converted to poultry processing in the 1990s, and the wastewater operation inherited abundant wastewater holding capacity from the brewing facility. Ample holding capacity adds flexibility to the wastewater treatment processes and redundancy in case of an upset in those processes.

Sludge conditioning  

Environmental managers at Perry also employ the latest wastewater treatment technologies. In 2010, for example, the facility began using the Griswold Edge sludge bulk conditioner on the dissolved air flotation feed pipes. The system applies an electromagnetic charge to the flow to reduce sludge.

According to Water Systems Manager Melissa Molaison, the system has reduced sludge output by an average of four to six loads per week and reduced coagulant polymer usage.

Not only does the system appear to reduce the biological oxygen demand from the DAF flow, total savings in sludge disposal and polymer coagulant ranges from $2,000 to $4,000 a week, she said.

PLC for polymer dosing  

Installation of a PLC system to control polymer dosing has also cut chemical costs by about 20% due to improved efficiency and less waste. The PLC accepts input from the DAF flow meters and automatically adjusts polymer feed rates as the flow changes. The PLC is estimated to save over 2,000 man hours each year.

Environmental outreach  

For Earth Day 2010, Perdue Farms donated $2,000 to the Mile Branch River Park for improvements to the park facilities. The facility’s environmental department also helped plan and organize the first annual Rivers Alive Houston County River Cleanup on the Ocmulgee River. More than 10 miles of the river was cleaned of over 3,600 pounds of garbage.

Not really a theme park  

The wastewater operation at Perry only has the feel of a nature preserve. No guided tour for the public is provided, but if tours were provided people would come away with a very positive view of the industry’s environmental management.

The Clean Water Awards are sponsored by U.S. Poultry & Egg Association.