Will Ethanol Put a Strain On Our Water Supply?

There are plans on the table for a proposed ethanol plant near Champaign, Illinois. Ethanol, as you might have heard, has become a leading contender to replace gasoline, if not peacefully co-exist with. What caught the eyes of city officials in Champaign and Urbana, Ill. wasn't that they might be on the forefront of the battle for alternative fuel. Rather, it was that the proposed ethanol plant would use about 2 million gallons of water per day.

Currently in Illinois, there are at least 30 plants in various stages of planning, according to the Illinois Corn Growers Association. And according to the Renewable Fuels Association, it would take about 300 million gallons of water for processing the product and cooling equipment to make 100 million gallons of ethanol each year - for each ethanol plant. Sounds alarming, doesn't it? Not to everyone. "On a statewide scale, it's not a huge amount of water," says Allen H. Wehrmann, director of the Center for Groundwater Science at the Illinois State Water Survey. "Illinois is a fairly water-rich state, so I don't think this is going to drain us."

But not every state has an abundant body of water available. In Iowa, where a proposed ethanol plant is supposed to be built, the production of the fuel source will put a great strain on the surrounding area's water supply. Some towns are even talking about digging for new wells for water sources.

In the future, we hope to do more pieces about alternative fuels. With high gas prices continuing to sky rocket, the need for an alternative has never been so strong, and in such high demand. Led in part by the Ford Hybrid, American's are beginning to look towards ethanol fuel to power the nation's automobiles. Whether or not it holds remains to be seen. But as long as it keeps gaining traction, we'll continue to bring you updates from this groundbreaking industry.
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