With the continued rapid growth in our Canadian craft brewing industry, it is important to look at insurance and risk management as an investment in the protection of your reputation and business, not just another expense on your balance sheet.

As Program Specialist for Beverage Protect, it is my continuing goal to inform and educate the brewing industry on emerging risks and areas that could impact the future of your business. A recent important topic of conversation, and subject of concern, is wastewaterand wastewatermanagement for craft breweries. For this subject, I reached out to one of our preferred risk management partners, Matt Marion of H2Flow, to provide his professional insight regarding this important topic.

When asked about the risks craft breweries face when it comes to wastewater, Matt had the following to say:

As a brewery, you inherently have wastewater going down the drain. Knowing the effect this wastewater has on the receiving location can help you better take proactive steps to reducing the impacts after leaving your facility.

Starting with the pH of your wastewater, the pH levels from your process can vary greatly throughout the day depending on the process in the brewery. These pH swings can land outside the spectrum of acceptable limits set by the city bylaw on both sides of the spectrum.

Addressing the Requirement

The local municipality has set limits to the effluent discharge pH to help protect the infrastructure of the piping downstream from your facility. Continued acid or caustic conditions will affect the life span on this infrastructure. Just as important, the values outside of the confines can disrupt the receiving wastewater treatment plant process. 

Typical brewery effluent can be below the 5.5 pH level due to the acid level of the product and the cleaners being used during sanitation stages. Alternately, if a plant has a caustic bottle washer, they will see high alkaline levels during operation of such equipment. Caustic cleaners could also elevate the pH out of compliance.

Potential Treatment

There is a good chance that if a large enough tank were put in place to contain the various streams into one homogenous mixture, the tank could neutralise out the highs and lows throughout various process changes. However, this tank can take up a lot of space in the brewery, which may not be practical.

A pH Correction System May Be the Answer

Utilising smaller mixing tanks and a pH controller with chemical addition pumps can complete the required pH neutralisation. Having a collection sump pit with pump is the easiest way to collect the wastewater before leaving the facility. From here, it can be pumped to a treatment system and returned to the sewer by gravity (or pumped).

The basic treatment system involves a pH Dosing tank (or tanks) with a mixer, a pH sensor, and a chemical Metering Pump system. Once the wastewater enters the tank, the pH probe will read the pH and dose the appropriate chemical (acid or base) into the tank. The mixer insures complete mix into the solution, and once the correct pH set point is met, the chemical injection turns off. The system will typically be a proportional control to administer additional product when required and less as the set point is being reached.

We work with Josh and the clients of Beverage Protect to offer an assessment of the current status of their wastewater and, if required, a recommendation to help get them back to compliance. We pride ourselves in being able to offer each brewery options for risk management in this area and scale it to meet their budgets.

Conclusion and Consequences

The last part of this equation that you may be asking yourself is, what are the implications or costs associated if my brewery is in breach of these bylaws? This can vary in each province; however, in all cases there are no notifications or warnings of testing being done. The Ministry of the Environment has prescheduled timelines to test various bodies of water, sewer systems, and independent businesses such as craft breweries. Once the levels exceed the bylaw levels, surcharges and fines are applied immediately, and in worst-case scenarios, operations are shut down until this can be corrected. Don’t be reactive with your wastewater. Be proactive and ensure your outputs are within the acceptable levels. 

Beverage Protect was created to support unique insurance and risk management needs, like the environmental risk of wastewaterfor the brewing industry. Areas such as health and safety compliance, standard operating procedures, and the wastewater concerns addressed in this article are important to breweries across the country. For this reason, we have partnered with people like Matthew Marion of H2Flow to provide you with the right kind of investments to mitigate risks to your business.

Beverage Protect prides itself in providing not just an insurance policy but a complete Risk Management approach to doing business. Beverage Protect offers craft breweries, wineries, and distilleries a customised insurance program that offers the best coverage available with the best rates in Canada

For more information, please feel free to contact me or visit www.beverageprotect.ca

Click Here to learn more about Beverage Protect

By Joshua Kearley