Last week, BLOOM attended the British Columbia Wine & Grape Council’s 16th Annual Enology & Viticulture Conference. I was invited to participate on a panel discussing wastewater management at wineries and Kevin Jones (President and CEO of BLOOM) made a presentation on Water Management in Wineries, specifically on why wineries should care about water.
This was a great opportunity for BLOOM to speak with BC winemakers about the challenges they are facing and discuss how the work we’ve been doing in Ontario might be relevant to their situation.
As far as the differences go, the very obvious one is that the Okanagan Valley is much drier than the wine regions in Ontario. On average, they get less than 30 cm of precipitation a year. For comparison, Niagara-on-the-Lake tends to get more rainfall than that just between May and August. Some wineries, even those connected to municipal water supplies, face water restrictions during dry periods. This is compounded by additional water demand during the summer for vine irrigation.
Like Ontario, BC wineries are also struggling to find practical and affordable long-term solutions for wastewater management. My co-panelists David Paterson (Tantalus Vineyards) and Dena Gregoire (Constellation) shared their experience of being thrust into the role of wastewater system operators. It’s not an easy adjustment and it highlights the need to build a body of knowledge that gathers and shares this information.
We had some great questions from the audience and a lot of interest in how to develop a plan around managing wastewater (hint: to start, measure where and how you use water and where things enter the wastewater stream) and how to reuse wastewater (hint: look for opportunities to reuse water within processes instead of at the end of the pipe). If you’re interested in more tips I suggest checking out our module on Reducing Water Consumption and Wastewater Strength.
This discussion panel was a good lead-in to Kevin’s presentation on day two of the conference. His talk provided an overview of the strategic importance of water management to wineries and how www.waterandwine.ca is helping wineries unlock that value.
Kellie Garcia also provided some excellent insight during her sessions with an overview of the BC Sustainable Winegrowing Program and their progress towards a certification program for sustainable wine. It was very interesting to hear of the success and challenges they are facing moving forward. Given the similarities between our two regions there is an opportunity to work closely with BC wineries to help them improve their water management practices.