Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Give your input on Washington’s first statewide water quality permit for wineries

The Winery General Permit will ensure Washington wineries
protect water quality as they cultivate sustainable practices.
We are proposing a new statewide water quality permit for wineries, called the Winery General Permit. This permit will establish practices for managing winery wastewater. The comment period opens today and we will accept comments until Feb. 14, 2018.

We are also holding four public hearings: two online webinars, one in-person meeting in Eastern Washington, and one in-person meeting in Western Washington. See below for more details.

Helping Washington wineries be more sustainable

Washington is the second-largest wine-producing state in the nation. Because the wine production in Washington has increased greatly over the past decade, we decided to develop a general permit that establishes good waste management practices.

Washington state is the second-largest
producer of wine in the United States. 
This permit will help protect our waters from potential pollution. A general permit allows businesses that have a similar function to have a unified approach. Instead of each winery applying for water quality permits separately, they can apply for coverage under the one statewide general permit.

General permits simplify the permitting process – which saves both the facility and the state time and resources.

Working with the wine industry to create a solid permit

We have been working with the wine industry since 2014. We formed an advisory group to advise us. We heard from representatives of wineries that the vast majority of Washington wineries have very low annual production volumes and are already heavily regulated.

In the proposed draft we included flexibility, compliance options, benchmarks, and scaled requirements for small producers and existing facilities. The draft permit focuses on best management practices and data collection.

Wineries protect water quality and the environment
when they properly manage their wastewater.

Why is winery wastewater a concern for water quality?

The wastewater made from winemaking facilities has the potential to contaminate groundwater, which is where many Washingtonians get their drinking water.

Contamination can occur if a winery’s septic tank and drainfield system fails, if their wastewater lagoon leaks, or if they use too much untreated wastewater to irrigate their crops. Winery wastewater can have high amounts of organic matter and solids, and extreme pH ranges.

Wastewater discharges like those from winemaking facilities can:
  • Pollute groundwater aquifers that supply drinking water and the water used to make wine.
  • Kill aquatic organisms.
  • Overwhelm wastewater treatment plants causing untreated sewage to be discharged to Puget Sound and rivers.

    How can you comment?

    You can find the documents on our website. We are accepting comments from Nov. 1, 2017 to Feb. 14, 2018 on the:
    • Draft Winery General Permit
    • Revised Fact Sheet
    • Notice of Intent (application)
    • Economic Impact Analysis

        Join us online at one of our webinars:

        Join us for in-person hearings:

        Tuesday, Jan. 30 at 10:30 a.m.
        Benton County P.U.D. - Prosser
        250 Gap Road
        Prosser, WA 99336
        Friday, Feb. 2 at 1:30 p.m.
        South Bellevue Community Center
        14509 SE Newport Way
        Bellevue, WA 98006

        Submit written comments

        We will accept written comments on the draft permit, fact sheet, and supporting documentation until 11:59 p.m. on Feb. 14, 2018. We prefer comments be submitted through our online comment form. Comments should reference specific permit text when possible.

        Submit comments

        What’s next?

        We will respond to comments and include them as an appendix in the fact sheet of the permit. If comments cause a large change in the permit, we may hold another public comment period. If there are no major changes, we expect to issue the permit in the summer of 2018.

        Check out our website for more info:

        By: Stacy Galleher, Water Quality communications specialist
        and Stacey Callaway, Water Quality permit writer

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