Animal processing wastewater is one of largest treatment markets

There are more cattle, chickens and hogs in the United States than there are people. There are over 100 million cattle and 60 million hogs. Over 10 billion animals are used for food in the United States each year, excluding fish and other aquatic life. Of that 10 billion, over 8.9 billion are "broiler" chickens.

The huge investment in wastewater treatment plants for households is indicative of the potential as the animal processing industry comes to grips with its pollution problems.

When you add in all the other 85,000 industrial plants which have wastewater discharges, the large size of the industrial market is apparent.

Increased regulatory scrutiny has created a big market for treatment of wastewater being discharged directly to receiving streams rather than to municipal treatment plants by more than 90,000 facilities in the United States. These facilities in general have large enough flows to justify the investment in treatment equipment rather than pay municipalities for this service. The McIlvaine Co. has compiled rankings of these facilities by number within each industry category and included this display in an online database: U.S. Industrial Facilities With Water Discharges.

The heavy construction industry heads the list with just under 4,000 facilities. This does not include 2,000 ready mixed concrete plants and another 1,800 crushed and broken limestone plants. It does not include 1,700 sand and gravel plants. 1,854 power plants are direct dischargers, but is equaled by the number of gold mines. 1,200 bituminous and lignite coal operations are also included.

The food and related industries are significant dischargers. Here are the totals for the largest categories:

Category # of plants
Dairy farms 688
Chicken processing 514
Cattle lots 506
Fish hatcheries 497
Hogs 398
Seafood 364
Poultry and eggs 233
Poultry processing 190
Milk 98
Wet corn milling 47

These facilities are subject to existing and proposed discharge rules. The U.S. EPA finalized a rule June 30, 2004 to reduce discharges from farm-raised fish facilities that generate wastewater and discharge it directly into U.S. waters. The rule will reduce annual discharges of suspended solids by more than 500,000 pounds and also will reduce the amount of toxic pollutants at 245 facilities that produce at least 100,000 pounds of fish per year and discharge at least 30 days per year.

The chemical industry is another segment with large numbers of direct dischargers. Included are:

Category # of plants
Industrial organic chemicals 372
Plastics and snythetic resins 316
Medicinal chemicals 116
Pharmaceutical preperations 110
Paints and varnishes 109
Nitrogen fertilizers 70
Cyclic crudes/dyes 70
Adhesives 61
Pesticides 59
Phosphate fertilizers 42
Soap 37
Explosives 36

The 90,000 plants include many commercial facilities such as hotels and retail operations. There are also 2,400 gasoline service stations and 1,600 crude oil and gas operations in the database.

The database is organized for easy access by geographical location, industry category, or plant name. Contact names and phone numbers are included. A companion database, U.S. Industrial Analyses, has the State-by-State segmentation. For more information on: U.S. Industrial Facilities With Water Discharges, visit or contact:

McIlvaine Company; 191 Waukegan Road ? Suite 208; Northfield, IL 60093; 847-784-0012; Fax: 847-784-0061; E-mail:;

This article originally appeared in the 03/01/2005 issue of Environmental Protection.

Featured Webinar