Last week, Wines & Vines ran a feature on Cave Spring’s newly installed wastewater management system. It’s great to see this kind of recognition; this project was a major undertaking by Cave Spring and the system is the first of its kind in a food and beverage operation in Canada. The article provides a good overview of how the BioGill system, installed by EcoEthic, works its magic, but let’s look a bit more closely at what makes this project so special and important to Ontario’s wine industry.
It was a community effort
Cave Spring’s original efforts to identify a new wastewater management solution were challenging. As Dave Hooper, Cave Spring’s Operations Manager told Wines & Vines: “We tried doing it in-house with no success.” Things started moving when the Wine Council of Ontario’s Sustainability Committee, of which Dave is a member, met with BLOOM to discuss water and wastewater management issues and risks facing Ontario wineries.
At the time, BLOOM was exploring pilot project opportunities to demonstrate the BioGill system, and we were looking for willing hosts. Cave Spring was eager to be an early adopter and volunteered. This led to the design of a pilot project to see how the system would perform in a winery operation. The pilot project ended up running successfully for a year and a half before Cave Spring made the decision to install a permanent, full-scale system.
So many things had to come together to achieve this outcome. This undertaking would not have been possible without bringing together wineries, the WCO, and solution providers to discuss challenges and explore “what if” solutions. And just as the development of the project involved a community of organizations, the benefits that will come from it will also be realized by multiple organizations. Ontario wineries now have a practical working example of an innovative wastewater solution that they can see first-hand and learn from. Provincial and Municipal regulators and policy makers now have performance data on an innovative solution that meets their objective of protecting water resources; and municipal wastewater treatment plant operators now have additional capacity and reduced operating and maintenance costs because of Cave Spring’s on-site treatment.
It took a holistic view of winery operations
One of the great things about this project is how Cave Spring took a strategic approach to water management. Looking through a holistic lens they have drawn connections between different aspects of their operations. The original desire to upgrade their treatment system came because they were paying sewer surcharges and having odour issues within the winery. Trying to get rid of odours can be expensive, if not impossible, and the BioGill system ended up being a way to keep odours from being generated in the first place.
Going through the pilot project also brought awareness to how operations within the winery impacted their wastewater. According to Dave, “We’ve changed some things upstairs so we’re putting less solids down the drain.” This includes dry cleaning of equipment and floors to remove solids prior to washing, and use of screens in all floor drains. This increased awareness has been accompanied by a drive for continual improvement, as Cave Spring is already looking for the next opportunity (like how to recover more wine from bentonite lees and keep them out of the drain).
It integrated water planning into the business
When it came to planning and sizing the installation of the full-scale BioGill system, Cave Spring took into account not just their current wastewater requirements, but how their planned growth would impact their wastewater in the future. In addition, Cave Spring coordinated this wastewater management project with other operational improvements they were making.
As a result, the investment by Cave Spring included not just the construction of an addition to house the BioGill system, it also involved constructing a fully-enclosed building for their crush pad operations. This will provide Cave Spring with greater flexibility during production and protect their harvest equipment. It will have the added benefit of preventing rainwater from entering their drains and adding to wastewater volumes.
Because this system was viewed as being “innovative”, Cave Springs was able to leverage funding support from Growing Forward 2 to off-set some of the costs of the investment.
It won’t be the last
This project is a great example of the type of knowledge-building and information sharing at the heart of Water & Wine. We here at BLOOM are excited to continue working across Ontario’s winemaking community, what we refer to as the “Collective We”, to discuss challenges, share knowledge, and demonstrate new and innovative solutions.