Southern Idaho town hopes to fix smelly whey pond

HOLLISTER, Idaho — Residents of the small southern Idaho town of Hollister are hopeful that a new filtration system planned for a local Greek yogurt plant will solve what they say is a smelly problem.

The Times-News reports Chobani is installing a reverse-osmosis filtration system to reduce the volume of acid whey discharged from the company’s Twin Falls plant. The acid whey is typically hauled to a farm near Hollister and spread on the land as a soil amendment. The whey is also used as feed for livestock.

But this summer, residents began complaining about the smell when the whey was first hauled to the farm. Earlier this year, more than 1,000 truckloads of whey and wash water were hauled to the location under a recycling contract with the farm owner.

Matthew Thompson, an environmental engineer and owner of AG Tec, said nobody expected the volume of whey and other issues that emerged after the yogurt plant began production.

“It took us by surprise,” he told the newspaper.

Now, officials believe they have a strategy for solving the problem.

Chobani will install a filtration system at its plant in April designed to reduce the volume of whey leaving the facility. The system should be operational in May or June 2014.

Changes are also in store for the Magic Valley farmer who contracted with the company to handle the whey. For example, officials have changed the route delivery trucks take to the farm to avoid interaction with neighbors. Trucking the whey at night has also been suspended.

“We don’t expect to see 20 loads a day out here anymore,” said Thompson. Until the reverse-osmosis system is running, residents can expect only a couple dozen truckloads of whey delivered per month, he said.

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