Agri-Mark Wins Environmental Awards

Jodi Girard of Agri-Mark presented with the Outstanding Industrial – Operator award & outgoing President Chris Robinson of the Green Mountain Water Environment Association

At the recent annual meeting of the Green Mountain Water Environmental Association (GMWEA), Addison County Economic Development Corporation (ACEDC) member Agri-Mark was presented with two awards: Outstanding Industrial Facility Award and Operator Award. Both were nominated by Bob Wells of the Town of Middlebury.  Agri-Mark/Cabot Creamery is a 1,200+ farm family dairy cooperative with members in New England and upstate NY. They manage four plants in three states, employing over 1,000 people, making award winning dairy products. 

The Agri-Mark, Inc. Process Wastewater Pretreatment Facility in Middlebury, Vermont won the Outstanding Industrial – Facility award.  This facility pretreats the process wastewater from the cheddar cheese and powdered whey manufacturing plant prior to discharging to the Town of Middlebury Wastewater Treatment Facility.  The employees and 21 certified operators implement Best Management Practices to prevent spills and minimize high strength wastewater to the drain.   The pretreatment facility is very well operated and has an excellent compliance record. 

The company requested an increase in the flow and BOD limits from the Town, however the hydraulic capability of the sewer line downstream was limited.  Agri-Mark and the Town met on this issue and a solution was reached.  The company upgraded the pretreatment facility in 2014 with a new pump station and a 200,000-gallon Equalization Tank, and obtained higher permit limits.  The large EQ Tank allows the company to discharge a relatively constant flow from the pretreatment facility to the Town 24/7.  The steadier flow and organic load benefits and protects the operation of the Middlebury Wastewater Treatment Facility and the water quality of Otter Creek.  The EQ Tank mixes the acidic and caustic cleaners used for cleaning in the manufacturing plant, which has resulted in cost savings of chemicals needed for pH adjustment.  It has also improved the company’s compliance with the permit limits. 

Agri-Mark’s pretreatment facility also includes a Bubble Accelerated Flotation Unit for phosphorus removal.  An automated spill diversion system diverts the incoming process wastewater to a spill tank for off-site disposal if the Chemical Oxygen Demand setpoint is exceeded.  The permitted effluent flow is 0.450 MGD monthly average.  Since the manufacturing plant operates 3 shifts per day, there are 20 certified operators in the Maintenance Department to cover every shift.  The operators are very dedicated and proactive in operating the pretreatment facility, and have an excellent preventative maintenance program. 

The second award was presented to Ms. Jodi Girard, Chief Operator and Environmental Manager at Agri-Mark in Middlebury, Vermont for the Outstanding Industrial – Operator award.  Jodi has been the Chief Operator at Agri-Mark for the past 20 years.  She oversees a crew of 20 certified operators who cover three shifts to operate and maintain the Process Wastewater Pretreatment Facility.  Jodi is very proactive and dedicated.  She promotes the company’s goals to “reduce, reuse, and recycle” to conserve water and minimize dairy wastes in the manufacturing plant.  She oversees the monitoring and reporting required for the process wastewater discharges.  She also oversees the high strength dairy waste that is used as animal feed or is composted, or disposed of in permitted farm manure pits or anaerobic digesters.  She is a member of a new Recycling and Sustainability Team at the plant that is working on initiatives to reduce solid waste.  Jodi maintains very good communications with the Middlebury Wastewater Treatment Facility staff.  She strives to maintain a high level of environmental compliance, and her dedication and accomplishments are impressive. Jodi also serves on the Board and Executive Committee of ACEDC.

The mission of the Green Mountain Water Environmental Association (GMWEA) is to promote public awareness of water quality issues and support water quality professionals working to protect Vermont’s water resources. GMWEA officers and members regularly provide State and Federal officials with input on water quality regulations. GMWEA also hosts numerous education, and training events to promote the professional development and continuing education of its members and students pursuing careers in water quality.