Addressing food industry’s rising costs for water and wastewater

Posted in: Food & Beverage, Infrastructure, Water


food-processing-wastewater-300x200pxThe food and dairy industry continues to be challenged on how to best improve water and wastewater systems efficiency to reduce costs. These rising costs are often attributed to higher energy costs and increased usage. However, there are many issues impacting these costs.

High costs continue to rise

Managing the cost of food processing waste treatment becomes more difficult as new and stricter discharge requirements are mandated. The addition of plant infrastructure, such as treatment or chemical systems, to meet new discharge regulations may also increase costs.

Wastewater treatment costs at food and dairy processing plants are already higher than other industries. It is more expensive to treat and dispose of the large concentrations of BOD/COD, solids, nutrients, and greases and oils typical of this industry. Also, water use costs continue to rise.

Treatment options

Food processing facilities either treat their own wastewater or pretreat and send their wastewater to a publicly-owned treatment system. Treating their own waste requires more capital up-front but gradually reduces costs. Sending the wastewater to the publicly-owned treatment plant requires less capital costs but leaves the plant owner with an ongoing, increasingly expensive monthly bill.

Reducing expenses while looking to the future

Plant managers and facility owners need to consider the future and what makes sense as their production increases. Examples of potential money-savers to consider:

  • Upgrade or update treatment processes and equipment that use new technologies. For example, a more efficient pumps may reduce energy costs or an updated treatment system may lower chemical costs.
  • Reuse water for boiler water, cooling, irrigation, cleaning and process water.
  • Use Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition systems to monitor treatments systems and online meters to reduce manpower expenses.

To determine the best solution for your plant, a financial analysis is a good place to start. A specialist will gather information from the plant manager and operations people who often offer keen insight into improving systems. A study of future production needs should be equated to water and wastewater usage and treatment costs. The specialist will look at questions such as:

  • When does it make sense to update or put in a new treatment system?
  • Should it be done in phases so the budget isn’t hit too hard?
  • Will a temporary pilot treatment system reveal better data?

Don’t wait until the operation’s expenses are through the roof. Waiting may cost additional money in the long run. Not to mention the possibility of fines and receiving a “bad environmental” stamp on your company.

The upfront financial and cost analysis expense can save money down the road by providing concrete data. Hire experts to get the answers you need.


Troy Gallagher

About the Author

Troy Gallagher has focused his 25-year+ career in the water and wastewater field, working for both industrial and municipal clients. Before joining Mead & Hunt, he started and built his own water and wastewater consulting, engineering and training company. Troy now serves as Market Leader responsible for new business development and teaming relationships to pursue nationwide opportunities in  water and wastewater treatment within diverse markets (municipal, aviation, food and dairy, and industrial).

Read more posts by Troy Gallagher

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