Brewery Wastewater Treatment Services: The Ins & Outs

News Header blue

The claim that Michigan is “The Great Beer State,” is supported by a rapid growth of microbreweries and craft breweries in the state over the last several years. Having a microbrewery in town is cool, but many don’t realize that between two and seven barrels of wastewater are created for every barrel of finished product. Communities must have a plan in place for managing wastewater from a brewery so that they meet their wastewater treatment plant’s discharge permit, or they may have to build a new treatment plant or add on to their existing to meet the capacity. Wastewater from a brewery is usually high in Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD) and includes bottling spillage, cleaning, or wash water, and often includes solids like spent grain, yeast, and sedimentation waste.

Why Does Brewery Wastewater Need to Be Treated?

All breweries that send their wastewater to the sewer system must make sure their wastewater meets local discharge limits and restrictions. A brewery can have a very high BOD of about four times the strength of residential waste. The wastewater from beer production is often high in soluble biodegradable organic compounds; a lot higher than the usual domestic wastewater. It also includes alcohol and sugars, plus wash water from cleaning floors, equipment, pipes, and vessels.

BOD in Wastewater

BOD is the amount of oxygen that is absorbed by bacteria and other microorganisms while they break down organic matter under aerobic conditions. It is often used in wastewater treatment plants as an indicator of organic pollution in the water.

Total Suspended Solids in Wastewater

Total suspended solids (TSS) are solids in water that can get trapped by a filter. Water high in TSS can have a negative impact on ecosystems when released into surface waters. TSS is basically a measure of how dirty the water is in terms of solid material suspended in the water.

Uncontrolled pH

Wastewater from brewing can sometimes raise the levels of pH. This makes the likelihood of solid deposits greater and increases the amount of sludge that needs to be removed during the treatment process. Conversely, certain cleaners used in brewing operations can also lower pH in a wastewater system, causing corrosion of sewer pipes and pump station equipment. The pH in the brewery discharge needs to be monitored and managed to avoid problems for a communities’ wastewater system.

Phosphorus Loading

Wastewater can include rinse water from brewing vessels along with other more thorough cleaning processes. The phosphorus is likely contained in products used to clean bottles, kegs, brewing vessels, and floors. All equipment is sanitized to prevent contamination throughout the brewing process. Brewery wastewater can contain phosphorus concentrations can be 5 to 10 times greater than domestic wastewater. At these concentrations, a modest volume of wastewater can contain a considerable amount of a treatment plant’s organic load. It would require additional treatment at the wastewater plant if it isn’t pre-treated prior to entering the municipal sanitary collection system.

Benefits of Brewery Wastewater

Beer manufacturers don’t enjoy talking wastewater, but it’s a big part of doing business. Between two and seven barrels of wastewater are generated for every barrel of finished product. Approximately 70% of the water utilized during the brewing process becomes a wastewater byproduct, so it’s important to treat it.

  • Keeps your brewery in compliance: Improperly discharging waste can damage your system and overload your WWTP, as well as get you fined. It’s simply smart to properly treat your brewery’s wastewater.
  • Reduces maintenance costs: Properly treating the brewery wastewater reduces the sludge that can create damage to your pipes and systems.
  • Minimizes risk of pollutants entering the ecosystem: Properly treating your brewery wastewater keeps the pollutants from entering surface water and creating a negative impact to the environment.
  • Saves water: Breweries should properly monitor their water usage with the goal in mind to decrease the brewery’s water usage.

Industrial Pre-Treatment Program

Breweries may require an Industrial Pretreatment Program (IPP), depending on their planned wastewater discharge. Information F&V would need to know about the brewery to assist you includes:

  • What are the plans for brewing wastewater discharge/management?
  • Will there be any separation of the spent yeast or brew mash, or will this be mixed with liquid waste and discharged?
  • What types of cleaners will be used for the kettles / brewing tanks?
  • What is the anticipated flow and loading for Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD5), total suspended solids (TSS), phosphorus and ammonia?
  • Will the facility be just brewing or also serving beer (e.g., taphouse/bar)? If so, will they have food preparation/cooking onsite?

F&V’s Brewery Wastewater Treatment Expertise

F&V can assist both the brewery and the municipality in managing brewery wastewater to be received at a municipal WWTP. We will conduct an industrial user survey, baseline monitoring, IPP permitting, and a Maximum Allowable Headworks Loading (MAHL) study to determine whether new or expanded discharges can be handled by your wastewater treatment plant, and the appropriate capacity and waste strength charge.

F&V also has expertise in managing brewery wastewater discharges, including design, construction, and operation of pretreatment processes.

Physical Treatment

Screening & settling of solids from the liquid waste stream can go a long way in reducing the load from a brewery. Spent grain, mash, and yeast can be separated from the liquid discharge to reduce impacts to the collection system and reduce charges for extra strength TSS and BOD. Example processes include various types of screens, filters, and clarifiers.

Biochemical Treatment

Biological and chemical reduction of pollutants in brewery wastewater is needed before direct discharge to surface waters and may also be needed prior to discharge to a municipal sewer system. Biochemical processes utilize microorganisms to break down organic materials in the wastewater. Traditional oxidation treatment processes, such as, activated sludge, sequencing batch reactor, or membrane bioreactors can be used. Less energy intensive treatment, such as anaerobic digestion, can also be utilized for certain types of brewery wastewater.

Why Use F&V for Brewery Wastewater Treatment Services?

F&V employs a wide range of experienced engineers and wastewater operations specialists to work cross functionally, ensuring breweries of all sizes will save money in the long run due to improved wastewater management. From concept planning through project completion, we will be your advocate for reclaiming your water and protecting your community and environment.

Discuss Brewery Wastewater Treatment with F&V

Please contact us today to work with you to create a plan of action on capacity changes and strength billing.