Severn Trent Costain have signed a multi-million pound contract with major UK dairy First Milk, to design, build and operate a new wastewater treatment plant at the company’s Haverfordwest Creamery. The innovative wastewater plant is the result of a close partnership with First Milk and Natural Resources Wales to deliver a solution that helps to secure the future of the creamery and enables increased production and contributes to the preservation of some of the UK’s most cherished and important countryside environments.

Water Minister, Richard Benyon said: “This new approach is good news for both the dairy industry and the environment. It is exactly this type of innovation we want to encourage through the Water Bill.”

This challenging and complex project has seen First Milk and its expert water and wastewater advisor, Severn Trent Costain create an innovative supply chain solution involving the local farmers who are owners of the business.

When built and fully operational in early 2014, the new wastewater treatment plant will replace an old system that no longer meets the dairy co-operative’s environmental or capacity requirements. The new system will operate within a new Environmental Permit which is accompanied by much stricter discharge limits than currently in operation.

The guidance and support of Natural Resources Wales, (previously the Environment Agency and the Countryside Council for Wales), has been instrumental in helping First Milk to develop an innovative solution to offset the nutrient discharge of the new plant.

Extensive feasibility studies explored all avenues to identify the best solution, which had to meet exceptionally stringent consent criteria set by the regulator. The solution has two parts: an advanced wastewater treatment plant, and an arrangement brokered by First Milk with its local dairy farmer owners to reduce their nutrient runoff by incorporating best practice on the application and use of fertilisers and manures; effectively “offsetting” the environmental impact of the discharge from the new plant.

The treatment plant consists of a dissolved air flotation (DAF) system, which removes suspended solids such as fats or oils, and an advanced membrane bioreactor, which provides both physical and biological treatment to an extremely high standard. The effluent produced is of such high quality that it is suitable for discharge to coastal and surface waters.

Once built and commissioned, the treated effluent will be discharged via a new 1.3km pipeline, which has to cross private land, beneath a train line, a high-pressure gas main, and carefully transit an archaeological site and road before its terminal point. All of these challenges present significant commercial, structural or environmental issues that were successfully negotiated and addressed during the feasibility stages of the project.

First Milk was the first business customer to switch supplier to the Severn Trent Costain joint venture after Defra altered the regulations to allow individual business sites using over 5ML a year to choose their water service provider.

Severn Trent Costain Managing Director Wayne Earp said: ‘This remarkable project is an excellent illustration of the holistic and proactive relationship that we have developed with First Milk, and the benefits that clients can gain from working closely with an expert water and wastewater service provider. We are immensely proud of the solution we have achieved together, and are confident that it will help preserve this remarkable and beautiful environment.’

First Milk’s Group Project Director Paul Rowe added: “As a farmer co-operative we are committed to the long term sustainability of milk processing in West Wales and the dairy farmers which own and supply this business. This has enabled us work with our supply chain to safeguard the environment, the creamery and our members’ future.”

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