Thursday, August 18, 2011

Stories about Getting to Clean Water: Finding a solution to wine waste woes

By Scott Mallery, Water Quality Program, Eastern Region

Have you ever thought about where your wine comes from? What about the type of wastewater that comes from making wine? Or about what wine wastewater discharges can do to the land or a wastewater treatment plant? The Department of Ecology (Ecology), the Port of Mattawa, the Wahluke Winery, and J & S Crushing have not only thought about it but they’ve come up with a solution!

The problem

The wastewater discharge from a winery comes to the treatment plant in large amounts all at once. It contains large amounts of organic materials (sometimes called high “biochemical oxygen demand” or BOD) that overwhelms the treatment plant’s ability to treat the normal daily influx of residential wastewater. The wastewater also has low pH (or high acidity).

Mattawa’s special treatment plant for wine waste.
When a wastewater treatment plant receives wastewater with high BOD and low pH it can cause a treatment upset, which means the wastewater may not be treated to the proper level before it is discharged to the environment.

Applying the wastewater to land is an option, but there is a potential for the high BOD to cause metals in the soils, as well as other toxins attached to the soil particles, to leach out to the groundwater supply. Moreover, land application is only an option during the summer growing season when the soil conditions are right and there is an actively growing crop.

The project

The Wahluke Winery began its Mattawa operations in 2005, discharging wastewater to the city of Mattawa wastewater treatment plant. For the next two years, the city of Mattawa’s treatment plant experienced many treatment upsets, causing violations of the plant’s discharge permit. Eventually, the city of Mattawa and Ecology told Wahluke Winery it could no longer send its wastewater to the city’s treatment plant.

What was the solution? Click here to read the whole story.

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