In early November, the Central States Water Environment Association (CSWEA) recognized Chanhassen, Minn.-based Bongards Creameries with the 2020 Industrial Water Quality Achievement Award. Bongards said the award was presented at the CSWEA 35th Annual Conference on the Environment in recognition of its waste reduction goals, wastewater treatment success, water reuse and other environmental initiatives at their Perham, Minn., natural cheese production plant.

As plant capacity has increased in recent years, Bongards has made continuous improvements to its wastewater treatment programs and facilities, increasing capacity and monitoring capabilities. Once treated, the wastewater is used to irrigate local fields. In addition, the company said it was able to repurpose a cheese production byproduct that was previously discarded, generating a nutrient source that is valuable for animal feed.

The Bongards Perham production plant is a 140,000-square-foot facility that is capable of processing more than 4 million pounds of milk daily into natural cheese blocks and barrels. It is located in an environmentally sensitive area, surrounded by many lakes and the Otter Tail River, and tourism and recreation are important to the community.

“In order to maintain the valuable natural resources of our local Perham community, responsible management of the wastewater generated from our cheese production process is of critical importance to Bongards,” said Daryl Larson, Bongards’ president and CEO.