WHATCOM COUNTY, Wash. – The Lynden Plant is what Darigold, a northwest dairy farming cooperative, calls their ingredient plant. Using milk shipped in from dairy farmers across Whatcom County, they produce milk powder that supplies food processing facilities all over the world.
Yet this isn’t the only “ingredient” that Darigold contributes to the greater community. The water by-product derived from the dehydrated milk supplies a clean and reliable source of recycled water.
“We are always looking for different ways that we can reduce our impact,” said Mike Jaynes, Environmental Compliance Manager at Darigold. Although brainstorming on it occurred for years, a project finally completed in 2022 provided an impactful opportunity for Darigold.
“In the early 2000s, Lynden’s water rights were exceeded and the Department of Ecology was encouraging us to find new sources of water,” shared Lynden Mayor Scott Korthuis.
In a plan facilitated by the city of Lynden, water that was once a wastestream became a valuable resource. Thanks to Darigold, the Department of Ecology, and a team of leaders in the city of Lynden, a steady flow of distilled water from Darigold now enters the Nooksack River using an old water line at the Hannegan Road bridge.
With thousands of pounds of powdered milk produced weekly by Darigold and the population of Lynden continuing to grow, this unlikely partnership makes sense. In doing this service, Darigold reduces their output of wastewater and provides the city of Lynden with a water rights credit.
While the water coming from the plant is tested regularly, any water of concern goes through treatment at the Lynden Water Treatment plant. In all, claimed Jaynes, the wastewater actually comes out significantly cooler and cleaner than the water in the river itself, and in turn, having positive effects to the biology of the river.
The Nooksack River, which plays an important role in the city of Lynden by supplying water to the city of Lynden and creating habitat for an array of wildlife, is the main water source that moves through Whatcom County.
“It’s exciting to see how Darigold can take milk and make a dry product of it ... and that milk is supplied to customers throughout the entire world, and a side benefit is that Lynden gets that water from it.” summarized Korthuis.
To learn more about how the project came into fruition, read stories from Darigold and the Lynden Tribune.
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