Author Topic: We need your help!  (Read 1560 times)

Offline LittleSeed

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We need your help!
« on: January 19, 2012, 09:58:45 AM »
Hi there,
My husband and I are in the process of planning our creamery and recently checked in with some of the state permitting folks in TN regarding waste water regs. As the local environmental/wastewater department does not have experience with creameries, in order to get our permit for wastewater disposal, they are asking James and I to find 3 small creameries that know how much water they use per year and will also tell us how much cheese they produce per year. We have to find these data points or they will not issue us a permit for disposing of the wastewater, and we will not be able to construct the creamery until we get the permit.

Anyone out there with a commercial small scale creamery want to help us out? We've spoken with several people already, but they don't know how much water they're actually using. We'd also be able to work with the numbers from one month if that's all you can come up with.

Thanks so much for your help!
- Eileen


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Offline Sailor Con Queso

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Re: We need your help!
« Reply #1 on: January 19, 2012, 02:01:52 PM »
Your water usage will depend on your setup and the kind of cheese that you make. I do 37 gallon batches of milk 5 times a week. Each batch yields 35-40 pounds depending on the cheese. I only use about 70 gallons of water each day that I make cheese, including cleanup. so that's just 350 gallons a week. Many households use more than that.

FYI - it's not the water they should be asking about. It's the whey that will have the most bio-impact. I wouldn't bring it up if they don't. Are you on city sewer or septic tank?
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Offline LittleSeed

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Re: We need your help!
« Reply #2 on: January 19, 2012, 10:16:46 PM »
Thanks so much for sharing your info!

The house on the property has a 4 bedroom household septic. For the creamery, however, we're trying to decide whether we should put in a devoted/separate septic system, or use some sort of wastewater collection tank. I've read about the milk residues in creamery waste water making the leach field impermeable after some time and am not sure if it's worth putting a new septic in if that will eventually be an issue. What method do you use? Are you happy with your set-up?

My husband spoke with the office again today and apparently now they want to see monthly utility(water only) bills for the creameries we use as references. Unfortunately, everyone I know and that I have contacted is on well water. Grrrrr! 

Offline Sailor Con Queso

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Re: We need your help!
« Reply #3 on: January 19, 2012, 11:31:24 PM »
You really don't want to run too much whey into a septic system. It will wreak havoc on the bacterial balance and BOD (biological oxygen demand) necessary for proper sludge digestion. There are other alternatives for grey water collection. One thing to consider is collecting it and selling it to local pig farmers.

I feel that it is an unreasonable request for them to ask for water bills from other creameries. Seems to me that is their job based on industry standards and data that THEY come up with. There are obviously other creameries in Tennessee. I would contact them and the inspectors in those counties.

I am on city water & sewer. My inspector quickly determined that my small amount of whey disposal would have little or no impact on the BOD.

Again, I have to say that water usage is minimal and not what they should be concerned about. It's the whey.
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Offline linuxboy

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Re: We need your help!
« Reply #4 on: January 20, 2012, 01:13:50 AM »
I would come up with a proper design for stream diversion and tell them to shove it. By which I mean demonstrate how your specific situation manages wastewater to ensure proper BOD needs are met. For example, you could:

- Divert whey into holding tank for pumping out to fields or animals
- Divert gray water into holding lagoon for treatment, or use a buffered system with bacteria and holding tanks before discharging to field.

You should also consider milk room needs separate from plant, because they have slightly different wastewater profiles.

Madness for them to ask you to obtain sensitive data because they are unwilling to do their job. Oh and welcome to the permitting stage  :-\
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Offline Sailor Con Queso

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Re: We need your help!
« Reply #5 on: January 20, 2012, 08:44:31 AM »
I agree with LB - madness. They are not doing their job. HOWEVER, especially in a small rural community you need to be careful that you don't piz off the inspector. They are not the enemy, but they can certainly seem like it. They are just trying to do their job, but at the same time they are covering their butts in case something goes wrong down the road. I also agree with LB that you need to come up with a proper waste management system that doesn't go directly into a septic field.

Are you dealing with your state milk safety inspector or a local water inspector? If you are dealing with a water inspector, you should work with your milk safety inspector to come up with soulutions. He/She can intervene and solve the problem. ie - State inspector trumps local inspector.

FYI - it took me 2 years to get past the bureaucracy.
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Offline linuxboy

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Re: We need your help!
« Reply #6 on: January 20, 2012, 11:18:18 AM »
Great points, Sailor. From various real estate projects I've been involved in over the years, here are some more lessons I've learned:

- Often, it's cheaper to pay up front. They will get their cash one way or another.
- At times, the left hand in the same department doesn't know what the right hand is doing. In these cases, the best approach is usually to know the rules yourself, and in cases of conflict, innocently ask that little dumb you had thought XYZ (and cite the relevant code). The is, however, usually one person who can trump others and this is the person to make friends with as possible.
- There are times when various regs or admin codes among local and state depts contradict. As Sailor said, you can use this to your advantage.
- Be extremely well informed and prepared before you talk to anyone or submit anything. It at times takes you knowing more than them and educating them. Sadly, for first time creamery projects, there are often unnecessary issues and holdups during permitting.
- It helps tremendously to work through an intermediary or through someone the county has dealt with in the past. In my current project, for OSS, I am working with someone who does over 80% of the larger plans and installs in the country. I had the permit in 3 weeks, first try.

In your case, I think what happened is some version of the following
- You are trying to go through the process and being respectful of various regs, are trying to obtain all permits.
- Your plans are not finalized because it's the typical chicken and egg issue of you need to have a solid design before they can really comment on it, and you need guidance for how to design it before you submit for permits, so you asked first while having something in mind.

And as a result, you are given a most difficult treatment because you didn't come in with a posture of coming in and slapping a plan down confidently. Unfortunately, niceness works with people, but rarely with these systems.

Here's what I personally do to try and navigate the waters:
- Follow my values. For example, for whey management, I am diverting all whey for re-use, and diverting process water through separate piping so I can reuse the water, because water is hard to come by where I am. This is expensive, but thinking in terms of waste streams helps, regardless of the scale and complexity of your design.
- Use best practices. For example, for your cleaning and sanitation schedule, the process water will be rather hot at times. You might want to boil in caustic sometimes, for example. And it may be full of chems, so have to plan for that, whether it's going to the field or not. It helps permitting depts to see that you have thought through the issues and cite various regs for your choices.
- Know what I want. I don't let rules tell me what to do. Not that they're made to be broken, but I find often rules are stuck in science and ideas that are 20+ years old. Rules often seem to be made with the perspective of what can't be done, and I am all about what is possible. So I design and do what I want based on what fits my values, and try to work with the most knowledgeable people so they may act as advocates.
- Have faith. If you have knowledge + passion, there's very little that can stand in the way in the long term.  :)

Hope this one works out quickly.
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Offline smolt1

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Re: We need your help!
« Reply #7 on: January 20, 2012, 05:09:30 PM »
I can't help you with the details of starting a cheese making operation, but after a life time of being a building contractor I DO KNOW ABOUT INSPECTORS.

Some inspectors truly are trying to make sure things are done correctly, but most only have a need to feed a large ego. In all cases give the least amount of information but make sure you have the rules and your facts correct.

Do your design and construction to the highest standards, then if there is a confrontation you will be able to continue.

As LB says many rules are based on 20 year old science, but if you try to update that you will lose. ( it takes a lot of money to change the rules)

Be true to your standards of excellence. ( after 40 years of building I can recall many confrontations with inspectors but I have never been sued)

It may take time and frustration but you will get there!!



Offline Edgwick Farm

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Re: We need your help!
« Reply #8 on: January 20, 2012, 05:29:45 PM »
We used Gianaclis Caldwell’s Farmstead Creamery Advisor to calculate our wastewater needs.  She states “A common ratio used by cheesemakers states that it takes 1 to 5 gallons of water to process 1 gallon of milk.”   We knew that we’d be milking 40 goats at capacity, most likely Nubians, calculated their average annual milk yield and multiplied that by 5.  We sunk two huge drywells to meet that capacity of waste water.  We probably went overboard but we would rather have too much capacity than two little given our small scale and the closeness of our neighbors.
As for whey, we planned for it to go to pigs, spread on fields and gardens and shared with other animals on the farm. 
When you come to visit in February, we’ll show you the plans and pictures.  We had to go through a site plan process where more skilled sophisticated consulting engineers reviewed our plans rather than local building inspectors.
Of course, we are going into our first year of commercial operation so we can’t offer up any actual data on how it works yet. :)

Offline linuxboy

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Re: We need your help!
« Reply #9 on: January 20, 2012, 05:49:40 PM »
I see where Gianaclis was going there, but IMHO, that's not a ratio, and it's rather subjective, and not something you can use on a plan as a basis for calculation... more like a starting point before doing any actual design work or site-specific planning. Say you're doing a COP tank and are using multi-molds for making semi-lactic buttons, but you collect and divert whey. And say you spray down end of shift. That is going to have very different water requirements from your ultra old school wash - caustic - rinse - acid - rinse routine in sinks. It's possible to reduce water usage drastically, depending on the cleaning routine and products.

If in your plans, the specs outline a detailed shift process with anticipated usage based on detailed cleaning procedure, that should be better documentation for permitting, and it gives an opportunity to think through cleaning workflow, which is what you will spend the majority of your time doing. :)
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Offline george13

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Re: We need your help!
« Reply #10 on: January 20, 2012, 06:49:16 PM »
My solution has been in having one or two pigs on hand year round, they love my whey and grow some of the best tasting meat around on this high protein diet.  It's a win win situation.  Their meat is so lean that it is in such great demand, I cannot keep any for myself.  And when I tell potential customers that they eat natural wholsome whey, the by-product of my cheese, they are very immpressed.  I did not expect to diversify so early on as cheese has been my initial focus.  This year I have five pigs.

Offline LittleSeed

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Re: We need your help!
« Reply #11 on: January 20, 2012, 09:43:23 PM »
Thank you all for your thoughts and ideas!

I'm sorry I didn't clarify earlier - the whey from cheesemaking will all be drained from the creamery to a tank. We'll be feeding the whey to our piggies like George. The creamery wastewater will be primarily from cleaning. 

I'm sure that this is only the tip of the iceberg as far as what we'll need to work through to build and license the creamery! I agree Sailor - it's a little bit of a stretch for them to ask, but, as Pav pointed out, we're trying not to rock the boat so we aren't going to push back. According to the state, there are only 7-10 licensed cheesemaking facilities in TN, and only 5 of those are not industrial, so I guess we shouldn't be surprised  Knowledge will be our best weapon... and speaking of which, we really need to study up a bit more! We had read a few articles about septic vs. a tank and had hoped that perhaps the regulatory agency would have some information about the best method in our particular area, but alas... We need to do some more of our own research before deciding which to go with. We will also be working with a creamery consultant, but want to take the design as far as possible by ourselves first.

Diverting the greywater and treating before spreading sounds optimal. We would like to reuse the water, but aren't yet educated to the pricepoint  and logistics of an appropriate system - just added that to our list for this weekend :)

We've been in touch and working with the state dairy inspector for around 6 months and he referred us to the local water inspector.

Talitha - I actually used Gianaclis' 1-5 gallons of water for 1 gallon of milk processed ratio to calculate the max water usage when we met with them last weekend and they basically laughed at me. I understand that 1-5 gives a lot of wiggle room, but really! I think it's a little better than "ask to see their water bills". I can't wait to see your creamery next month and would love to get to see the plans and process in photos! My stepdad is a civil engineer so he will be able to help us refine our design and ideas and turn it into a professional drawing, and as I said previously, we'll also be working with a consultant, but I think the information and ideas we get from actual cheesemakers will be the most helpful.

Thank you guys!!!

Offline linuxboy

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Re: We need your help!
« Reply #12 on: January 22, 2012, 01:20:06 AM »
Quote
Diverting the greywater and treating before spreading sounds optimal.
This is the way to go... if you can afford it. Cheaper but physically bigger version of the same idea is a lagoon. A typical system will use ph buffers and bacteria to treat the waste water and make it safe to use as grey water for irrigation or going to septic. Should be lots of details online if you search for waste water bio reactors.

Are you working with Neville or someone else? All the typical experienced folks do a decent job of suggesting improvements and best practices, but IMHO, sometimes you will get better ideas from doing your own research and talking to people in other industries because it's hard for a consultant to be you and act from the starting point of having identical values as you. For example, wineries and other food processors often have more extreme demands, and can recommend contractors to do the installs for typical systems such as DAF (Diffused/dissolved Air Flotation) for wastewater remediation (that's mostly for high remaining sugars with high BOD). Wineries and breweries often need to install systems that are very similar to what you need because they use similar gear and similar cleaning routine. If there's a good contractor local wineries use for their wastewater gear, that's worth some investigation.

In your area (or at least in TN), there's Sheri at Locust Grove with her sheep, Jim and Gayle at Bonnie Blue, Dustin and ??? (forgot wife's name) at Noble Springs, and a few other folks I'm forgetting. You probably know all that, though... Maybe they'll have something more relevant to add.

I can actually understand the reasoning for seeing water bills. It's a quick way to tell exactly how a system is to be sized based on milk volume. Unfortunately, it's not accurate because it doesn't take into account cleaning routine or cheeses made. I think the workflow will help with that and is something that would help with the permit... shows you really thought through the needs.
« Last Edit: January 22, 2012, 03:01:05 AM by linuxboy »
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Offline Edgwick Farm

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Re: We need your help!
« Reply #13 on: January 22, 2012, 06:56:52 PM »

Offline tnsven

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Re: We need your help!
« Reply #14 on: February 03, 2012, 06:17:44 PM »
I know this isn't the newest thread but I've not been here in a while. You mention in your original post "TN" but your userid shows you in NY.  Are you moving to Tennessee to open your creamery?  If so, please p.m. me privately as a good friend of mine just closed a farmstead cheese operation and has a LOT of insight on the TN health people, ag people, etc.  If "TN" means something else, forgive me.   :-[

Kristin (in East TN)