The region’s craft beer industry is booming, but microbreweries and other fermentation operations add significant quantities of liquid waste to the region’s the sewage system. Metro Vancouver sought input from craft breweries for a new bylaw that protects the environment and infrastructure, while supporting this growing industry.
In Fall 2014, Metro Vancouver started working with fermentation operators to develop a new bylaw to regulate liquid discharge. One reason for this is the growth of the craft brewing industry.
“The craft beer movement right now is exploding,” says Graham With, head brewer at Parallel 49 Brewery. “So, I think in probably the last month, there have been at least four new breweries that have popped open.”
“It’s becoming a real big industry right now,” explains Jeffrey Gogol, Environmental Regulatory Planner at Metro Vancouver. “And we have now about 80 operations including associations, distilleries, wineries, craft breweries.”
Unique Wastewater Challenges
Breweries present unique wastewater challenges. Danny Seeton is the lead brewer at Parallel 49.
“Breweries use a lot of water,” says Seeton. “We create lots of wastewater, and we have a lot of suspended solids in it. And that tends to cause a problem for the wastewater industry.”
Those problems can include odour and damage to sewer infrastructure – from discharges exceeding current limits for factors such as acidity. Plus, the significant volume of suspended solids puts a greater demand on wastewater treatment facilities.
“Metro Vancouver has met with a few breweries, including us, to see what’s the problem, adds With. “And basically not just fine everybody, but work with everybody to reduce the amount of solids going down the drain.”
Jeffrey Gogol explains why Metro Vancouver worked with breweries to find effective solutions.
“What we were are looking at is to kind of get them to look after their wastewater, and, so that we can protect the sewers from corrosion, and odour, but also to protect the capacity of the plant.”
“I think a lot of the breweries didn’t really realize what the problem was,” notes With. “Now they are getting the information out to everybody and trying to see if we can divert all those waste streams, and keep them out of the drains.”
Waste Diversion Solutions
Metro Vancouver sought input from industry leaders, like Parallel 49 Breweries, for best practice approaches to waste disposal.
“Instead of just getting it into the water stream where it is very hard to remove,” explains With. “If you can keep everything segregated, you can put it towards energy, or cattle feed, or compost.”
Danny Seeton points out that there’s a lot of material to deal with, but they are finding ways to divert it from the wastewater system.
“We have about six tonnes of wet grain that comes out every day and about 30 cubic meters of wastewater that we deal with in general. We collect all our grain and that gets sent to farms. Every two days it gets delivered to the farmer and that gets used for dairy feed in Abbotsford. So we do a pretty good job of separating grain from liquid, and trying to have the least amount of wastewater there. And now we are keeping even our yeast, most of our heavily solid liquids separate, and they get pumped into a holding tank rather than down the drain. The yeast gets used for cattle feed hydration.”
Regulation Levels the Playing Field
The regulation requires require monitoring of discharge, maintaining records and annual administrative and treatment fees.
“We are making sure that our bylaw is effective for all sectors,” says Gogol. “So that we have a level playing field and that everybody understands what they need to do to help protect the environment, protect the workers, protect our infrastructure.”
Graham With says the efforts deliver benefits in a variety of ways.
“Its being environmentally conscious, I think everyone here kind of can get on board with that. It’s better to keep these waste streams segregated, so you are not paying giant fees to go down the drain, And you can segregate your waste and feel better about yourself as a brewery.”
More about Metro Vancouver’s Fermentation Operations Regulatory Program.
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