Treatment Options

The highly variable nature of dairy wastewaters in terms of volumes and flow rates (which is dependent on the factory size and operation shifts) and in terms of pH and suspended solid (SS) content (mainly the result of the choice of cleaning strategy employed) makes the choice of an effective wastewater treatment regime difficult. Because dairy wastewaters are highly biodegradable, they can be effectively treated with biological wastewater treatment systems, but can also pose a potential environmental hazard if not treated properly [23]. The three main options for the dairy industry are: (a) discharge to and subsequent treatment of factory wastewater at a nearby sewage treatment plant; (b) removal of semisolid and special wastes from the site by waste disposal contractors; or (c) the treatment of factory wastewater in an onsite wastewater treatment plant [25,26]. According to Robinson [25], the first two options are continuously impacted by increasing costs, while the control of allowable levels of SS, BOD, and COD in discharged wastewaters are also becoming more stringent. As a result, an increasing number of dairy industries must consider the third option of treating industrial waste onsite. It should be remembered, however, that the treatment chosen should meet the required demands and reduce costs associated with long-term industrial wastewater discharge.

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