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Straight River: Do You Want Trout with Your Fries?
(pg 5 of 8)

R.D. Offutt processing plant in Park Rapids, Minnesota

In the mid-1990s, Offutt and partner Lamb Weston proposed a $60 million expansion of its Park Rapids potato processing plant. Concerned that construction of the plant would increase demand for irrigated potatoes and water consumption in processing, Trout Unlimited, the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, and the Headwaters Chapter of the Audubon Society filed suit to prevent the DNR from issuing permits for the project.

The lawsuit was settled after the company agreed to several measures that would help protect the stream. Offutt funded well-water monitoring, paid more than $300,000 for a DNR watershed study, and relocated processing plant wells to draw from the deep aquifer rather than the shallow one feeding the Straight River. The new plant reduced groundwater use for washing, storage, and processing by about half. Offutt also designed the plant to reuse wastewater to irrigate nearby properties, reducing the need for groundwater.

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