The wastewater question was probably the hardest question to answer satisfactorily during our hearings for the special permit with the local zoning board. Not because they did not accept or like our proposals, but because there are a lot of other regulatory bodies that need to be involved in granting health and environmental approvals.
Our vision has always been to turn waste streams from the brewery into inputs for the farm. The challenges were both logistical and technical. Thankfully, we’ve found that throughout this process that there are many people and companies willing to give advice (even if it was occasionally “you’re crazy”), and help us along our way.
The majority of the effluent is organic – grain and hop residue, yeast, and water. However the cleaning and sanitization requirements for a brewery are very intensive. Through discussions with various chemical supply companies, DEEP, UCONN Ag Extension and our terrific engineers at LandTech, we were able to devise a plan that should work beautifully. Here are some of the elements that have been incorporated:
– By using mostly potassium rather than sodium based cleaning solutions we were able to limit the actual treatment to the effluent required for land application.
– Land application is not permissible in winter because nothing would be absorbed into the soil, creating runoff. To produce year round, we need to store waste produced over the 6 months it cannot be applied. To avoid a massive holding tank or effluent pond we have worked out a program which actually gives us more flexibility year round. We fabricated a monthly process by which we can apply the effluent to grassland* as we’re able or have it removed by septic.
*The basic rules for applying food processing effluent is that it must be applied to open grassland, not to any crop that will be harvested.