Winery Pilot Program leads to cleaner Waste Water
It’s a win-win situation — it’s good for the environment and good for the bottom line.
Cave Spring Cellars is set to move from the pilot project stage to full implementation of an innovative method of cleaning its waste water before sending it down the drain.
Cave Spring stands to save approximately $4,000 per year in waste-water sewer surcharges from Niagara Region when the Jordan winery’s new BioGill filter goes online next year.
The filter removes organic material from the water used in the winemaking process. These organics are referred to as BOD — biological oxygen demand — as they are broken down by oxygen-needy bacteria. Left untreated to flow into waterways, these BODs would put fish and other species at risk by the fact the micro-organisms eating them would consume all the oxygen in the water.
Niagara Region’s waste-water treatment facilities remove the BODs, but the Region puts a surcharge on water from industry that surpasses an allotted measurement. These measurements for BODs are taken at source by a third party prior to being sent into the municipal waste-water system.
“It has been the best pilot that I’ve ever done,” Cave Spring operations manager Dave Hooper said. “Normally when pilots are done, it’s pretty rare you get anything useful out of it.”
The BioGill filtration system was brought to Hooper’s attention via a connection between the Wine Council of Ontario and BLOOM, a not-for-profit organization that provides a bridge between the needs of industry and technology providers.
In this case, BLOOM hooked up Cave Spring with EcoEthic, which set up the BioGill system in the winery’s basement.
Hooper said he was looking for a better filtration system than what the winery was using, which consisted of two large holding tanks. A byproduct of the BOD breakdown in that system was a nasty odour, which on its own is bad, but doubly so, Hooper said, when it’s where the wine is made.
“Do you want your waste water by where you’re cooking?” Hooper said.
“Our big driver was the proximity of our waste-water treatment next to our production.”
Hooper said he had been researching other methods of filtration to set up in a new building to be constructed at the winery, but a confluence of systems with drastic price differences — $70,000 to $1 million — left him confused about which would be the best approach.
Enter BLOOM and its proposal for a pilot in which EcoEthic would set up a BioGill system.
A year and half later, the pilot has been a huge success, removing as much as 97% of BODs from the winery’s waste water used for winemaking.
The BioGill system, in a nutshell, involves a sealed tank containing vertical membranes (gills) in which micro-organisms grow. Waste water is poured over these gills, and while that happens the micro-organisms eat the organic materials.
Once the organics are eaten, the water is sent into the municipal waste-water system. The process is virtually odour-free, Hooper said.
In addition to the $4,000 in sewer surcharges, Hooper said the winery will save approximately $3,000 per year on the money spent on chemicals to control odours.
Hooper said a full-scale commercial BioGill system will cost $160,000. He estimated the cost of creating a new space for the system will run approximately $300,000.
He said the winery has applied for federal and provincial funding.
The waste-water filtration improvement at Cave Spring is in keeping with the Wine Council of Ontario’s program emphasizing sustainability measures at its more than 90 member wineries.
The program was initiated in 2007 as a self-auditing endeavour, “more or less just to make sure (winery operators) were aware of the environmental issues in their daily operations,” said Regina Foisey, council senior marketing manager.
She said the goal is to provide readily available sustainability information to small- and mid-size wineries.
“The smaller companies and the mid-size companies don’t have separate staff who are just looking at these issues,” Foisey said.
“A lot of the times, it falls on the winemaker or owner, and there’s so much information out there, between the water and waste-water and the energy … so we wanted to create a program where it gave them quick access to information, and best practices … so they could really keep it top of mind when they were making decisions, when they were buying equipment, when they were expanding.”
She said the wine council partnered with BLOOM in 2013 to promote water and waste-water sustainability initiatives as not only good for the environment, but also good for the bottom line.
She said a book is being put together that will cover sustainability best practices.
“Part of our sustainability program … is we have newsletters that go out to (wineries) that pick one topic and really dive into it,” Foisey said, “and this best practices book is going to go over and above everything they need to be aware of.”