Triangle Brick, a North Carolina manufacturing company, addressed concerns about water usage Thursday during a public announcement of plans to build a plant in Clay County.
Triangle Brick will break ground later this year, and expects production to begin in early 2016.
When news first broke that the company intended to build a brick plant on a 994-acre tract 10 miles southeast of Henrietta, neighboring land owners questioned how the brick manufacturing process will affect area ground water reserves.
At full production, the facility will use 30,000 gallons of water per day, five days a week, provided by a large storage pond, now under construction, and three water wells.
“We use the least amount of water that we can to extrude the brick. It’s called stiff extrusion,” said Howard Brown, executive vice president of Triangle Brick. “When bricks come out of the extruder, you can stand on them. They are that hard.”
By using less water in the extrusion process, the company is able to shorten drying times before the brick is fired in a kiln, improving the efficiency of the process. “(Water is) our friend only to the point of extrusion, and then it’s our enemy because we have got to get it out,” said Brown.
With the use of diversion channels, the pond will capture runoff from buildings and paved areas for parking and brick storage. In years of average rainfall, the collection system will provide enough water for production.
“Our main idea is to be a able to capture as much runoff water as we can and be able to return it to our process. That is the primary source for water,” said Brown.
Once the production facility is complete, Triangle Brick will have a total of 400,000 square-feet under roof.
Wells will be used as a backup water supply for production in dry years, and to provide potable water, though they alone would provide the company with enough water to continue production for a period of 80 years, according to a study conducted by water engineering firm Freese and Nichols. The wells have already been drilled and tested for use.
A reverse osmosis plant will be constructed to provide drinking water for employees. High salinity levels in the well water will not affect the brick making process, said Brown.
In 2011, the company purchased a piece of the former Hapgood Ranch and since 2012 has been working with the governor’s office, Clay County and Henrietta Economic Development Director Rick Langford to build the plant.
Once the plant reaches full production, it will employ 40 people in two shifts, and produce the equivalent of 100 million bricks per year. The plant will be state-of-the-art and highly automated, said Brown. Materials will be mined on site and shipped direct.
The Clay County location will supply brick to customers within a 500 mile radius. It will be company’s fourth plant, and the first outside of North Carolina.
On Monday, July 28, county commissioners voted to act as an intermediary which will allow JAC Electric to receive $750,000 in grant funds for construction of an electrical substation to provide energy to the plant. Triangle Brick will pay the remainder of the $1.5 million project.
On Monday, July 28, commissioners approved a seven-year tax abatement plan for the company.