Where possible, we recycle and reuse water, including at some of our locations where we use wastewater from municipal treatment plants as process cooling water. Most locations recycle water numerous times in a closed-loop system. In some locations, cooling water, along with some surface runoff water, is collected in on-site ponds for treatment, cooling and/or evaporation.
Our production facility in Borger, Texas has found innovative solutions to water shortages caused by drought in the region. The plant uses wastewater from the municipal sewage treatment plant as cooling water. Our Borger facility reuses millions of litres of water per day that would otherwise come from the area’s already scarce water supply.
If water used in our production plants cannot be reused or recycled, it is tested to ensure compliance with applicable environmental standards before being discharged to treatment plants, on-site underground injection wells or off-site into a surface water body. If process water is not suitable for discharge via the previous options, it is disposed of using underground wells.
Agrium manages our operations to minimize the release of pollutants to surface waters, going beyond compliance in many cases by keeping our discharges well below regulatory limits. For many years, we have worked to reduce discharges to water at various facilities. For example, our Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta and Redwater, Alberta operations send wastewater to public treatment works for secondary and tertiary treatment, which eliminates discharges to surface water bodies. Our Carseland, Alberta facility does not release any wastewater.
Nutrients in Water Bodies
Beyond our own manufacturing operations, excess nutrients in water bodies can trigger environmental issues, such as low oxygen levels and conditions resulting in elevated rates of vegetative growth and accumulation of organic matter (eutrophication). To address stakeholder concerns that nutrients are entering the environment from water runoff (where our products are in use on farms), Agrium is working with industry associations, researchers, NGOs and government to establish the 4Rs of Nutrient Use. These best management practices minimize nutrient losses to air and water by applying the right form of fertilizer nutrients at the right rate, right time and right place, promoting environmental and economic sustainability. Our certified crop advisors also conduct soil, plant tissue and other analyses to help growers understand the water needs of their crops.
Read how Agrium is helping California growers use less water by implementing 4R principles and best practices.
Caring for Our Watersheds
We developed the Caring for Our Watershed (CFW) program in 2007 because protecting and preserving our watersheds is a priority for Agrium. CFW asks youth to answer the question, “What can you do to improve your watershed?” Students propose solutions to environmental concerns, while industry, conservation groups and schools work together to turn these solutions into realities. The finalists, selected by local conservation experts, compete verbally to win cash awards. We have engaged more than 60 non-profit organizations in the program as judges and partners with students.
CFW is active in several watersheds across Canada, the U.S., Argentina and Australia. Agrium donates up to $20,000 per watershed help students' ideas become realities.
Agrium's CFW program encourages its participants to "think global, act local". Ducks Unlimited Canada recognized that vision by selecting Agrium as the recipient of its 2014 Conservation Education Award. Also, in 2015, Agrium was named a global leader in environmental education by the North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE) for this program.