The City of Windsor insists its water treatment facilities are equipped to deal with the influx of microbreweries in the city.
There could be as many as 10 microbreweries and brew pubs in Windsor by the end of the year.
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“The contaminants that are in waste water coming from breweries can have a negative effect on waste water plants,” said Paul Drca, manager of environmental quality for the City of Windsor.
Waste water and solid waste from breweries stink, adds to corrosion of pipes and are difficult to break down.
Drca said there could also be issues with acids and caustics used to clean brewing equipment.
“It’s something we’ve dealt with in the past,” he said. “We’re in good shape to be able to treat the waste water from these microbreweries.”
Drca said Hiram Walker has been using the city’s waste water system for years. He said the distillery accounts for “quite a high percentage of [waste water] flow” within the system.
The Lou Romano Water Reclamation Plant received an upgrade in 2007, designed to handle the type of waste produced at breweries.
Drca said the city also has a waste water bylaw and conducts industrial waste sampling and monitoring on a regular basis.
“They have to meet limits in our sewer use bylaw,” Drca said.
He said companies could be forced to install pre-treatment equipment to meet bylaw or be forced to pay for additional costs in treatment.
Testing equipment or containment tanks could cost thousands of dollars.
Vancouver wants Windsor-like bylaws
Vancouver is looking at developing similar bylaws. Metro Vancouver, like Windsor, is experience a microbrewery boom.
Waste water there is stressing Metro Vancouver’s sewage system.
The region wants bylaw changes that could force brewers to pay to deal with organic matter produced through fermentation, saying many of the new businesses are pumping out more than just great suds.
"Part of making beer is the waste products are very organic and have quite a high strength from a sewage perspective," said Fred Nenninger, a manager in Metro Vancouver's wastewater division.
Graham With, a brewer at popular Vancouver craft brewery Parallel 49 and a wastewater engineer, said his microbrewery planned for waste issues.
But, he said, many small breweries there don't have the money to install equipment.
"It could break some of the smaller breweries or, alternatively, they're going to have to screen everything that goes down the drain,” he said.
In Windsor, Jake Smith owns Jake’s Windsor Brew Factory Inc., where water conservation is top of mind.
“Most of the water we use here is used in the process of making beer and wine. There’s very little that goes down as waste water,” he said. “We’ve changed our brewing process to use less water.”