Meister Cheese Company WWTP Energy Improvements


2019 Engineering Excellence Award | Best of State

Entering Firm: Strand Associates Inc.
Client: Meister Cheese Company
Category: Energy

Meister Cheese Company was looking to expand its operations and reduce costs; it identified its wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) as a bottleneck. The high strength waste generated could not be processed by the facility and was instead being hauled away. This increased costs and was not environmentally sustainable.

Strand Associates designed a solution to eliminate hauling of the waste sludge and update the WWTP to accommodate future growth. The old design only used aerobic treatment which could not handle the high strength waste. The new design incorporates anaerobic treatment lagoons that pre-treat the wastewater. This allows the aerobic treatment to successfully deal with all types of waste and eliminates the need to haul away waste sludge. The anaerobic process also produces biogas. Originally perceived as a downside, the design team developed a method for using that biogas in a generator to produce electricity for the facility. This generates enough electricity to power the full WWTP and produces heat for the building. The heat generation increases the efficiency of the anaerobic lagoons which reduces operating costs. This is an innovation that has not seen much use in industrial systems before but is now shown to be very successful. Overall, the new WWTP can potentially save the client $210,000 a year in electricity costs and reduce the carbon footprint by approximately 1,000 tons a year.

Awards judge Dan Talarczyk said, “The Meister Cheese Company WWTP Energy Improvements project exemplifies how an innovative approach to water treatment processes can have broad and lasting benefits with energy conservation, sustainability and overall environmental stewardship. The timing of this project is apropros, given the current challenges facing agro-industrial operations in rural Wisconsin.”

Meister’s new WWTP saves money, reduces emissions and opens the door to further production expansion. The design is a blueprint for future industrial plants on integrating waste treatment with environmental sustainability. The project shows how design solutions have major real world impacts.

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