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Legacy Act funds for outdoors and arts will help deliver treated waste water to ethanol plant

Funds totaling $1 million from the Legacy Act — the new constitutional amendment designed to use sales tax money for the outdoors and arts — will pay to divert treated municipal waste water from the city of Winnebago to a nearby ethanol plant.

The idea, says the Mankato Free Press, is to keep the plant from using groundwater in the ethanol-making process.

The paper says the project addresses one of the major criticisms of ethanol production — that it consumes large amounts of groundwater to generate alternative fuels.

In typical convoluted legislative language, the bill doesn’t specifically mention the Corn Plus ethanol plant or Winnebago but has this provision under the clean water appropriations: “Of this amount, $1,000,000 the first year is for grants to ethanol plants that are within one and one-half miles of a city for improvements that reuse greater than 300,000 gallons of wastewater per day.”

Corn Plus, about a mile east of Winnebago, currently uses up to 350,000 gallons of fresh groundwater daily to produce its fuel. The city discharges a minimum of about 350,000 gallons of treated wastewater into the Blue Earth River each day.

“The description of what it’s for is pretty much Corn Plus,” said Rep. Bob Gunther, R-Fairmont, who sponsored legislation for the appropriation in the House.

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