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Jerome, Idaho dairy processor to ensure wastewater discharges meet federal standards

Release Date: 05/12/2014
Contact Information: Hanady Kader, EPA Public Affairs, 206-553-0454, kader.hanady@epa.gov

(Seattle—May 12, 2014) Idaho Milk Products, Inc., located in Jerome, Idaho, has agreed to resolve Clean Water Act violations related to the discharge of wastewater that did not meet federal standards, according to a settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The wastewater, which goes into the city’s sewer system, routinely failed to meet the federal water quality limit for acidity (pH). The facility has taken steps to ensure future discharges meet standards and agreed to pay a $170,000 penalty. The company processes dairy products.

“Municipal water systems are designed for a specific type and amount of wastewater,” said Ed Kowalski, Enforcement Director for EPA’s Pacific Northwest Regional Office. “Discharges from industrial facilities that exceed standards can impact water quality in downstream waterways and jeopardize the integrity of the treatment facility.”

Industrial wastewater discharges must meet federal standards for pH and temperature under the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES). Discharges must also comply with conditions set by the waste treatment facility.

Low pH wastewater is corrosive and can compromise the integrity of the wastewater collection system pipes, leading to potential leakage. In addition, low and high pH can negatively affect bacteria and micro-organisms that break down sewage.

The wastewater is treated at the City of Jerome’s wastewater treatment plant. From March 2009 to July 2012, EPA found that Idaho Milk Products exceeded the pH limit 138 times.

Municipal wastewater treatment plants are some of the largest volume dischargers of wastewater to surface waters in the U.S. Industrial facilities that discharge to municipal plants must comply with regulations to minimize difficulties the plants may face in complying with their own discharge limits.

“Look at it this way,” said Kowalski. “A city is processing wastewater from residential homes, retail businesses and sometimes from industrial processing operations. Industrial facilities can add a large volume of waste to the system. Companies must ensure their wastewater does not compromise the city treatment plant.”

For information on EPA's National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits, visit www.epa.gov/npdes

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