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October 30, 2021 - 10:12am

Meeting with engineers working with city give O-At-Ka CEO optimism that wastewater issue can be solved

posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, O-AT-KA Milk, city of batavia, GHD Group.


Friday’s meeting with the engineering firm representing the City of Batavia -- coupled with continued progress on completion of a new pretreatment facility – is giving O-At-Ka Milk Products Chief Executive Officer Bill Schreiber hope that wastewater restrictions placed on the Cedar Street processing plant will come to an end in the near future.

“Our technical team had a good exchange of information with the city and their engineering firm (GHD Group of Buffalo) this afternoon,” Schreiber said in an email to The Batavian. “The team presented several options we think will assist in elevating dissolved oxygen levels in the lagoons (at the city’s Waste Water Treatment Plant) and support recovery.”

In the meantime, O-At-Ka officials have been hauling wastewater to other locations on a daily basis for several weeks – currently at an average cost of $13,000 to $15,000 per day, Schreiber said.

This became necessary when City of Batavia leaders determined that the dissolved oxygen levels in the ponds were insufficient and not in compliance with the State Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit that regulates O-At-Ka. As a result, the city issued a cease-and-desist order to the plant, which is owned by the Upstate Niagara dairy farmer cooperative.

Schreiber and John Gould, Upstate Niagara chairman of the board, have been calling for a meeting with city engineers and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to forge a “three-party solution.”

While the DEC apparently was not involved in Friday’s discussion, Schreiber said that engineers working with the city “have indicated they will consider what was presented and we hope to have further discussion next week.”

Work on getting its new pretreatment plant up and running is on schedule, Schreiber said, adding that Nov. 15 is the target date to begin seeding and flow to the new Moving Bed Biofilm Reactor.

“The media for the new MBBR has been received,” Schreiber said. “The blower mechanical and electrical installation is complete, and pre-commissioning and walk through for the blowers is planned for November 8th.”

He said the company also is acquiring an additional Dissolved Air Flotation – not part of the original design -- to augment the existing unit, facilitating a process that removes solids before the wastewater enters the MBBR and reduces the load.

Calls to City Attorney George Van Nest, who is speaking on behalf of the city regarding this situation, were not returned at the time of the posting of this story.


Photo at top: The new Moving Bed Biofilm Reactor with the media for it on the ground to the left of the structure; Photo below: An inside view of the MBBR. Submitted photos.

Previously: City attorney: WWTP levels are heading in right direction; O-At-Ka has to abide by conditions of permit

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