Good Fruit Grower

April 15

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20 APRIL 15, 2015 GOOD FRUIT GROWER Final rules for Washington State wineries expected by next spring. by Melissa Hansen W ashington State's wineries are as diverse as the wines they produce. How wineries handle wastewater is just as varied, which makes developing a new general wastewater permit that can be tailored to fi t all winery sizes a unique challenge. The Washington State Department of Ecology, work- ing with the state's wine industry for more than two years, recently announced a timeline for developing a new winery general permit for wastewater. Though some believe it is an optimistic timeline, the fi rst preliminary draft is scheduled for release in August. After the draft goes through a 45-day public comment period, a formal draft is scheduled for release in January 2016 (with another 45-day comment period), and the new permit effective date would be next March. A wine industry wastewater stakeholders group will work with Ecology in drafting the permit and provide feedback as part of the rulemaking process. Although the group has yet to see any draft language, it has already asked that the preliminary draft be released when indus- try has time to provide meaningful comments and not in the throes of crush, which begins in August and usually concludes in mid- to late November. The stakeholders group includes statewide wine grape grower and winery trade associations, Winerywise, Washington Wine Industry Foundation, small and large wineries, and wastewater engineers and consultants. The group, through the Wine Industry Foundation, recently conducted a confi dential survey of Washington wineries to get a better handle on winery demographics and better understand the different ways wineries are currently handling wastewater and discharge, said Joy Andersen, chair of the Winerywise steering committee. Andersen, based in Prosser, is senior winemaker for the state's largest wine producer Ste. Michelle Wine Estates. Winerywise is a grassroots effort that began develop- ing a guide to sustainable management practices for the Washington wine industry in 2007. The guide is a volun- tary, interactive online companion guide to Vinewise, a sustainable guide for grape growing, and includes industry standards and evaluation tools of sustainable practices. "Following sustainable practices and being good stewards of our resources is a part of the fabric of the Washington wine industry," Andersen told Good Fruit Grower. During creation of Winerywise, the steering commit- tee was proactive in the area of water and waste manage- ment and worked with Ecology's non-regulatory arm to develop sustainable practices for the guide, she said. "We knew the general permit was eventually coming. They told us during our work on Winerywise that, at some point in the future, they would look at our industry's use of wastewater practices." Why the need? Chelsea Desforges, permit writer for the Department of Ecology, told growers and vintners attending the Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers meet- ing that the wine industry has grown substantially. Washington is the second leading wine producing state and has more than 850 bonded wineries. She estimated that from the 20 million gallons of wine produced in the state in 2013, some 120 million gallons of wastewater were generated, assuming it takes six gallons of water to produce one gallon of wine. Ecology states on its website that the growth in the number of Washington wineries means more waste- water, and if wastewater is not managed, it can cause problems for the environment and local sewer treatment plants. Of the 850 wineries in the state, 13 of the largest have individualized wastewater permits from Ecology. Other industries, such as fruit packing, operate under general wastewater permits. California and Oregon have general wastewater permits for wineries. Ecology is concerned that without proper treatment, winery wastewater has the potential to disrupt treatment plant operations and degrade groundwater. Most wastewater is generated in the fall during crush. "Raw winery wastewater is acidic and can include cleaning agents, grape juice, and organic sediment (lees) that Wine wastewater permits are coming ONLINE To learn more about Ecology's develop- ment of a winery general permit, go to: Grapes "Following sustainable practices and being good stewards of our resources is a part of the fabric of the Washington wine industry." —Joy Andersen COURTESY STE. MICHELLE WINE ESTATES Joy Andersen heads the Winerywise steering committee. Call us FIRST for the largest selection of trees and rootstocks available Future contracts for cherries, pears, & apples; ALL ROOTSTOCKS. 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