The Future of Reclaimed Water for the Dairy Production Industry

Posted in: Food & Beverage, Municipal, Water


Dairy Plant, Getty Images
Technological equipment in modern dairy plant

Reclaimed or reused water, which is wastewater that gets recycled and diverted for another use before it moves out of the facility as wastewater, has recently been on the rise in all industries—including the dairy industry. This rise can be attributed to a number of factors.

From an economic standpoint, a good reclaimed water plan can provide substantial savings for a dairy facility. While a full investigation should be completed to ensure the benefits outweigh the costs, the reduction in water use can lead to savings on wastewater operations and pretreatment discharge bills.

Reclaiming water can also ultimately reduce the amount of freshwater necessary for various applications. This increasing emphasis on achieving more sustainable wastewater management will require new and innovative ways to manage our resources.

We have identified several waste streams available for potential reuse in the dairy industry. These include:

  • Reverse Osmosis (R.O.) reject water
  • Seal water from pumps and separators
  • Pipe condensate
  • Bottle wash

Any reclaimed water that is used in production needs to be treated to ensure it meets the required standards. To ensure efficiency, it is imperative we keep waste streams separated when building a new facility or adding additional infrastructure. Piping low-solids water directly to pretreatment will take up space in the treatment system, resulting in less detention time for Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD) removal, which could overload Dissolved Air Floatation (DAF) or other treatment systems. Low-solids water can be reused for Clean In Place (CIP) water, floor cleaning, or production water, thus reducing overall water usage.

Potential waste streams such as reject water can have high mineral or corrosive qualities that require treatment. Reused water may require disinfection, filtration or R.O. treatment depending on the water’s intended use. Online turbidity meters, sampling programs, and lab analysis can be used to monitor the water and ensure water quality.

It is vital to monitor reclaimed water both before and after use to ensure it remains viable for its intended purpose. As long as wastewater is adequately treated, it can be used to satisfy a vast variety of needs.

As new developments come into play, our industries and techniques must change around them. Not only can a reclaimed water plan make financial sense much of the time, but the environmental concerns dictating this shift remain in full effect—and probably will for generations to come.


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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