Cheese Plant Reclaims Water from Milk, Eyes Aquifer Recharge

Cheese Plant Reclaims Water from Milk, Eyes Aquifer Recharge

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JEROME • Jerome Cheese Co. turns milk into cheese. A lot of cheese.

But the cheese factory also makes water. Water that’s cleaner than drinking water. Water so clean it’s said to be “polished.” So much water the company hopes to eventually join Idaho’s efforts to recharge the aquifer.

The cheese factory is a member of the Idaho Ground Water Appropriators and is subject to the Surface Water Coalition’s 2005 water delivery call.

Groundwater is used for the factory’s drinking fountains, sinks and toilets, and for final rinses of equipment. The plant uses no municipal water but draws 400,000 gallons of water each day from its own wells.

But the plant has a surprising source of water for its other needs.

The company, one of five plants owned by Davisco Foods International, brings in 6.5 million pounds of milk and produces 600,000 pounds of cheese daily. Instead of purchasing municipal water or drawing massive amounts of water from the aquifer, the plant recycles 800,000 gallons of water a day pulled from milk during the cheese-making process.

This so-called “cow water” is cleaned, polished and reused in the daily four-hour cleaning cycle of the cheese plant and its equipment. Reclaimed cow water is also turned into brine and used in making mozzarella.

Eventually, when the plant expands, the company hopes to assist in North Side Canal Co.’s recharge efforts, Chief Operations Officer Bill Riebesell said.

“We would love to be able to give our excess water to North Side,” Riebesell said during a tour of the plant.

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