Friday, August 22, 2008

Sometimes I wonder how any business can get started these days

Cabarrus County is exploring different ideas to improve our local food system. We have a 7 million dollar beef industry here in the county and a good market for people who want grass feed beef. But right now every cow that gets into commercial channels has to leave the county to die. Put everything together and it is fairly obvious that we could use a kill floor. The county commissioners are okay with the idea, the neighbors are okay with the idea and there is a local family interested in operating such a facility on their property. So the first step is to determine if there is enough ground water available to operate the facility. This study is going to cost $10,000. They didn’t offer me the $10,000 but I decided I would just figure it out for fun.
The facility would need about 2500 gallons of water a day five days a week. Of this amount about 2475 is returned to the ground for treatment. The rest evaporates. Subtracting gives me 25 gallons per day which I multiply by the 210 days they would operate per year for a total of 5250 gallons per year.
The underground aquifer is a shallow surface aquifer that is recharged by at least 10 acres that runs from a nearby fire department north to Barrier Rd and about 500 feet both sides of the proposed facility. (For $10,000 I would actually look up the contour lines and get a precise measurement and subtract out the paved area, but I have no doubt a 10 acre estimate is very conservative.) The area receives about 42 inches of rain per year. On the flat ridge top around this site, about 7 inches of this will go into the ground per year. Multiplying out 7 inches times 27,500 gallons per acre inch times 10 acres equals 1,925,000 gallons of recharge annually.
So the question is can you take 5250 gallons out of 1.9 million gallons. Well, since the recharge is mostly during the winter and the withdrawal is year around, plus there is some flucuation from year to year, I also need to check the amount of ground water to make sure it will budget out on a daily basis. The static water level is currently 20 feet. The depth of casing is 70 feet. Therefore the amount of water saturated soil is 50 feet. The amount of water held in a clay soil like this is roughly 10 percent. So that translates to 5 feet of water. Multiply times the 27,500 per acre inch times the 10 acres of surface recharge times 12 inches per foot equals a little more than 4 million gallons.
YES. There will be no problem taking out 5000 gallons from 4 million gallon aquifer being recharged at the rate of 1.9 million gallons annually.
I can be so definite about this because I use more water than this from a smaller aquifer than this to irrigate my garden.
When you get to thinking about this, the amount they intend to use is roughly equivalent to 40 houses on wells. If that caused a problem there would be lots of places in the county that would be hurting.
There it is. Roughly $10,000 worth of consulting at no charge.
By the way step 4 is to determine what it would take to treat the waste water. That will be a $5000 consulting fee. I don’t know the answer on that one, but for a $500 finders fee I could get them in touch with David Troutman who could give them the answer for half that price.

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