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Dairy Farmers, Zumbrota leaders to meet

By Sandy Hadler, contributor

ZUMBROTA — A Dairy Farmers of America representative from the main office in Kansas City, Missouri, has requested to meet with Zumbrota city officials. They will discuss waste water violations that have occurred at the Zumbrota cheese plant, resulting in hefty fines of over $70,000 in May and June.

Mayor Rich Bauer, City Administrator Neil Jensen and City Council member Brad Drenkhahn will meet with the representative at 3 p.m. July 24 at the cheese plant. The regular City Council meeting will follow at 6 p.m. in City Hall.

“He wants the opportunity to meet with the entire council, so we will delay any action until then,” Bauer said.

Suspending DFA’s license is one option city officials have discussed. The city already has increased the fine from $3 to $4.50 for every pound of biochemical oxygen demand or BOD — which is a determinant of how strong the waste water from milk solids and wash water at DFA is when it enters into the city’s sewer system — that is dumped into the city’s waste water treatment plant over the approved limit.

Overloads of milk solid wastes damage equipment at the city’s wastewater treatment plant and can cause strong, unpleasant sewer odors that envelope the city. Excess loads this spring resulted in numerous calls of complaint to City Hall.

There is also concern that two of DFA’s violations were so serious that they caused the city’s waste water treatment plant to be in violation of its permit from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

Jensen noted that Zumbrota’s wastewater treatment plant manager Paul Zielsdorf reported that there were no violations during the first five days of July. Jensen said that may be the result of a new online system that DFA has implemented to counter the BOD violations.

“It looks like it may be working,” he said.