Breweries and wineries are intensive users of water, but have been making strides in water reduction goals in recent years. Fetzer Vineyards, for example, installed a filtration system that uses microbes and red worms to naturally remove up to 99% of contaminants from its wastewater. Clean water from this regenerative system will be used for irrigation in Fetzer’s organic vineyards, the company says.
Powered by gravity, wastewater travels down through wood shavings and river cobble inside a drainage basin, where millions of worms work with microbes to break down and digest pollutants.
Worm castings mixed with compost will enhance soil for the vineyards. The system works efficiently year-round despite seasonal fluctuations in wastewater flows, according to Fetzer.
Fetzer Vineyards is the first winery in the US to process 100% of its wastewater with such a system, the winery says. The chemical-free system uses 85% less electricity than the winery’s previous wastewater system to treat the same amount of water — roughly 17 million gallons annually.
To help the winery industry, SIP Certified created a vineyard and winery certification that has strict, non-negotiable standards based on science and expert input, independent verification, transparency, and absence of conflict of interest. SIP Certified can help growers and vintners measure their environmental, social, and community impact, the group says.
Participants document over 50 requirements and implement practices to achieve 75% of the total available points. Practices are verified through independent records and onsite inspections, and receive final approval from an independent advisory board.
This is a critical year for the water industry, Bluefield Research president Reese Tisdale said in January. “Market forces such as drought and water scarcity will drive new business models and interest in water reuse. We will also see a focus on innovation in the form of smart water technologies and industrial water treatment; how far these solutions will go remains to be seen.”
Last week, beer brewer Carlsberg Group set a new goal of reducing water usage at its breweries by 50% by 2030. Reaching the goal will require “technological breakthroughs at brewery level” as well as collaborations with partners in high-risk catchment areas to ensure long-term water availability, says Jochem Verberne, global partnership director at WWF International, which conducted a water analysis for Carlsberg.