The following are some examples of what wineries can accomplish by improving water management practices and how Water & Wine can help you achieve those goals.

To eliminate sewer surcharges, wineries must reduce the strength of their wastewater effluent. The most effective way to achieve this goal is to prevent organic material from entering the wastewater stream in the first place.

If additional reduction of wastewater strength is required, wineries can install an on-site wastewater treatment system to further reduce the strength of their effluent.

Trucked-in water is seven to ten times more expensive than water from a direct municipal connection. If obtaining a municipal connection is not feasible, a winery should identify on-site water supplies or alternative water sources to meet their needs.

If the winery has access to a well, then they should actively manage the well to determine how much water is available, reduce water consumption as much as possible, and take advantage of alternative water sources such as harvested rainwater to supplement their well supply.

For wineries without access to well water, there may be an opportunity to obtain their entire water supply from rainwater or recycled process water, although this would require detailed planning and adherence to regulations.

If not properly prepared, wineries can expose themselves to unanticipated levels of risk when expanding. Wineries that rely on well water may not have sufficient supply to meet increased demand. Wineries with on-site treatment systems may generate more wastewater than the system was designed to handle, leading to odour and regulatory compliance issues.

To reduce these risks, wineries need to monitor their water consumption and wastewater generation, and use that data to develop key performance indicators and anticipate water supply and wastewater disposal risks and take action before problems arise.

To reduce water supply risks, wineries that depend on wells should implement active well management and take steps to reduce water consumption.

Wineries that treat wastewater on-site can use Key Performance Indicators to estimate when treatment systems will need to be upgraded to maintain adequate treatment capacity and regulatory compliance.

While a 1:1 water-to-wine ratio may seem unattainable, some wineries in other jurisdictions have reached this level of water efficiency. This requires rethinking wine-making processes to eliminate unnecessary process steps, recycling wash water, and identifying areas of waste.

Not every winery may be able to achieve this ratio, but with a strong commitment to reducing water consumption, many wineries should be able to achieve a ratio of 3:1.

Closed-loop recycling may be appealing to wineries that already treat incoming water and outgoing wastewater on-site. It can reduce or eliminate water supply risks and rising cost of wastewater treatment.

However, closed-loop water recycling systems can be expensive and complex. Wineries should have good data around water use and take steps to reduce water consumption and wastewater strength as much as possible before considering such a system. Significant expertise and planning to address both technical challenges and regulatory requirements would be required to ensure the closed-loop system is successful.

In order to develop more positive and productive relationships with government regulatory agencies, wineries should maintain detailed operational records including building and site plans, water consumption data, records and results from any mandated regulatory testing, maintenance records for wastewater treatment systems, and any other pertinent data.

Wineries should also consult early and often with municipal and provincial regulators when considering any expansion or changes to operations, such as on-site wastewater treatment.

If there are other water or wastewater opportunities that you are interested in pursuing but are not covered here, contact RiverLabs by email at, or by phone at 613-936-6620.