A toast to clean water – working with wineries on wastewater management

Did you know Washington is now the nation’s second largest wine-producing state after California?

That’s terrific news for the local economy. For WTD, it means working with wineries to make sure the wastewater from this growing industry is treated properly.Wine

Many wineries already do a great job managing their wastewater. But winery wastewater is acidic and may contain fruit pulp, yeast and cleaning agents. Large volumes of this “high-strength” wastewater could affect the chemistry at our treatment plants.

To protect water quality and encourage thriving businesses, we’re working with local wineries to develop new guidelines in King County’s wastewater service area.

The goal is to establish best practices for managing winery waste, and to specify when a winery would need a permit requiring sampling and pretreatment before sending wastewater to the sewer.

Other industries that use fermentation, such as breweries and distilleries, affect the wastewater system in similar ways. Some of the practices established for wineries may be useful for those industries, too.

WTD’s Industrial Waste Program employees began their research on winery waste in 2013, visiting wineries and meeting with industry representatives.

They took wastewater samples from the sewer system in an area where there are a large number of small wineries. The team measured biochemical oxygen demand, or BOD, which is the amount of oxygen needed by microorganisms to break down wastewater pollutants, as well as total suspended solids (TSS), and pH. They’ll complete a report with recommendations in 2015.

Elsewhere in the state, the Washington State Department of Ecology is in the preliminary stages of developing a water quality permit for wineries. Both California and Oregon have developed permits for wineries already. More information is available on Ecology’s website.