Environmental impacts of dairy effluent on waterway in the Pomba River Basin

ABSTRACT Dairy activity has economic and environmental importance in the Pomba River Basin. Aiming to check for possible environmental impacts of dairy effluents on watercourses, five dairy effluents were characterized during the production cycle. To select the variables important for the characterization of effluents, it was applied a principal component analysis (PCA). Data obtained were compared with official regulations and it was simulated the impact of the discharge of effluents, treated or non-treated, on a waterway. The most significant variables in the effluent analysis were conductivity, biochemical oxygen demand (BOD), total phosphorus, turbidity, temperature and pH. Dairy plants do not comply with legal standards for effluent discharge, even with treatment plants installed. The main reason is the low use of whey, associated with inefficient treatment of effluents. By simulating the discharge of effluents, it can be concluded that the reduction of BOD should be 60-70% for the river water did not exceed the standard limits for BOD. The simulation was important to determine the impacts of dairy effluents and can be applied to other dairy plants in order to ensure that effluent cause no environmental damage. Developing products or technology for the better use of whey in small dairy plants, adequately treat the effluents, and reduce water consumption are considered important actions to reduce environmental impacts on water resources.