Kelly Lacorte, a Chobani spokeswoman, in response to questions about the company’s water withdrawal application, said: “We remain confident that the final review will confirm the water table is adequate for the needs of the community and the company.”
Water is crucial in a yogurt production operation because it is needed to clean and sanitize machinery, said Hamilton Mason, who with his family owns Cowbella, a small yogurt company in the Schoharie County town of Jefferson. A company with a growing thirst for water is likely increasing its production of yogurt, Mason added.
“The majority of the water I use is for cleaning and sanitizing, which I think is quite a bit just for our little level,” Mason said. “For every piece of machinery we have, we have to clean it with soap first, and then rinse it, and then clean it with the sanitizer. I could imagine with their trucks and everything else, all that would have to be sanitized and cleaned. If they are already at capacity and they are running the full amount of milk through each time, they are probably adding more machines and so they would have to increase their water usage quite a bit.”
Mason said Cowbella produces a few hundred units of yogurts each week. Ulukaya told a business publication recently that Chobani turns out 2.2 million cases of yogurt each week.
Of the three wells at the Chobani plant, only one was installed by the company, that one constructed in 2010, according to Obleski. The other two wells — installed in 1938 and 1968 respectively — were constructed by previous occupants of the Columbus site.
Lacorte said Chobani had considered adding a fourth well but has since determined that the existing three wells are “adequate for its water needs.”
The SRBC encouraged anyone wishing to present oral testimony at the public hearing to notify the agency prior to the hearing of their intent to testify and to indicate which projects they plan to comment on, if it involves project applications.
The agency asked that the notices are sent to: Richard Cairo, General Counsel, Susquehanna River Basin Commission, 1721 North Front Street, Harrisburg, PA 17102, Telephone: (717) 238-0423, ext. 306, Fax: (717) 238-2436. His email address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
SRBC will also accept written comments until June 3, 2013. Comments may be submitted via the internet at www.srbc.net/pubinfo/publicparticipation.htm or mailed or faxed to Cairo.