“Water is the driving force of all nature” – Leonardo da Vinci
Vineyards are a staple of American tourism and agriculture. In 2016, over 3.5 million individuals visited vineyards in Napa Valley alone to relax, eat great food, and enjoy great wine amongst friends and family. And yet, despite an increasing number of people making this trek to beautiful winery country, and despite agricultural technology continuing to improve, relatively little thought has gone into how vineyards and wineries can improve the resilience of the water and wastewater utilities upon which a clean, peaceful agricultural property is reliant.
Today, most vineyards still rely upon utilities such as septic systems and leach fields, which are similar in technology to the septic systems and leach fields that were installed two generations ago. Many properties continue to utilize these ‘traditional’ systems because of their relatively low installation costs and the tight margins that plague many winemakers. And yet, the costs of these systems remain high in other ways – with leach fields taking up significant amounts of land, leaking septic system potentially contaminating well water, and an increasing number of states putting nitrogen discharge limits into policy. When taking these costs, and expectations for future additional costs, into account, many winery owners throughout the country have begun to install and operate distributed wastewater reuse systems. These reuse systems – one of the biggest innovation in the wine industry since people began to design quirky wine labels – are a modern, cost-effective, operationally simple means of improving plant operations for the next several decades by both treating and reusing the treated water for irrigation.
In my experience, there are two primary reasons why there has been increased interest in moving away from the septic system towards an on-site reuse plant. First, septic systems are notoriously difficult to manage. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, between 10-25% of all onsite systems fail. Today, we have begun to see echoes of this failing tank issue arise in the winery world as increases in regulatory monitoring capabilities has coincided with an increased stringency surrounding nitrogen discharges and related regulatory fines. Second, in the West, concerns surrounding long-term water availability have led winemakers to seek a ‘drought-proof’ supply of water to ensure that their non-potable needs (e.g. irrigation of plants, ornamental fountains, etc.) have a guaranteed water supply regardless of their future well productivity or local potable water use restrictions. In 2016, for example, Governor Brown implemented a mandatory water use reduction across the state as the drought continued to worsen and reservoirs continued to be stressed. Who would you rather be if this were to happen again in the future – the winery with a septic system or the winery with an onsite wastewater reuse system that can treat and irrigate using Title-22 quality water produced on-site?
We understand that growers and winery owners face budgetary and operational concerns every day. Our goal is to provide a new, drought-proof, regulatory approved water supply through new affordable wastewater treatment systems. There are engineers that design, finance, install, and begin to operate new systems in a matter of just weeks to ensure that growers and vintners never have to worry about that old leaking septic tank or future drought conditions again.
For more information about the next generation of wastewater treatment and recycling systems, contact Michael Warady at firstname.lastname@example.org or (424) 832-7017.
By: Michael Warady, www.water-pod.net