Select Page

BOOM! How to use explosives to install a brewery septic tank.

Most of Central Oregon is covered in lava, either above or below ground. And one of the worst places for underground lava rock is near Smith Rock State Park. Our brewery lies less than 2 miles from the magnificent geological features, and rock removal has been a pain in our arse since we started building the hop farm trellis back in 2014.

Today we brought out a demolition and explosives expert to make quick work of the rock in the alpaca pen where we need to install a septic tank. This is part of our plan to capture all brewing waste and apply it to our multiple compost piles that eventually are used on our 900 hop plants. One big circle.

A Plan for Wastewater

We reached out to Larry Brown at the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality. The first step was to provide him with a brief description of our property and proposed setup, including the brew system. This included estimated water usage and waste:

Brewing once a week, we estimate the total waste water volume to be 8,060 gallons per year (672 gallons per month.) After checking the pH and temperature level, we have the option of using the waste water in our year-round greenhouse, applying to our 192 cubic ft compost area, and/or applying to our 1 acre hop yard during the summer (only if this does not trigger additional permits or oversight.)

Disposal of solids (spent grains & hops) will happen on-site as feed for fowl.

We also included descriptions of the two cleaning agents we plan on using and a MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheets) for  Star San:

P.B.W. is a buffered alkaline detergent that has been proven to be more than an effective substitute for caustic soda cleaners. Because of its unique formulation of buffers and mild alkalis, it is safe on skin as well as soft metals such as stainless steel, aluminum, and on plastics. P.B.W. uses active oxygen to penetrate carbon or protein soils and is not effected by hard water. The oxygen also helps in reducing B.O.D. and C.O.D. in wastewater, which is an added environmental benefit.

Star San is environmentally friendly, biodegradable, and will not harm septic systems.

He needed clarification in several areas:

Water usage: “It is my understanding that one can typically expect about 7 to 10 times the amount of wastewater generated as beer produced.”

Caustics and Sanitizers: “It is also my understanding that such wastewater will have diluted amounts of caustic and sanitizers. At this time I am unable to find a MSDS sheet for the caustic you plan on using and cannot provide guidance accordingly with respect to land application activities or its use on plants in a greenhouse operation. Star San residuals, on the other hand, can actually provide a benefit to plants by the addition of phosphorous.”

Wastewater vs. sewage: “Wastewater from the brewing production activity is not to contain any sewage; no hand sinks, no toilets, etc.  Sewage combined with this type of waste will require a WPCF individual permit which means that you will need an engineered wastewater sewage disposal and treatment system.”

Composting: In review of your proposal and considering the wastewater characteristics of this type of waste, composting would be a good avenue for you to take in order to keep out of the DEQ permitting realm. I need a little bit more information concerning how you are planning to store and transport such liquid to the composting area. I need to make sure that you have ample storage capacity in case of freezing conditions; or assurances that brewing will stop under these types of situations; or that you will have the contents pumped for disposal as a back-up option.

Solid Waste: With respect to your proposal to use the spent hops and grains for fowl, I would suggest different language where such material will be used for animal feed and any residuals if conducted on the property be either offered to neighboring farmers, or would be composted to prevent nuisance type conditions from being created.

Government Departments – From A-Z

Deschutes County LogoDeschutes County Department of Community Development
We’ll work with this department to develop a Land Use Application, which states that we want to run a business on a residential piece of property in an Exclusive Farm Use Zone.

Environmental Health Specialist – Department of Environmental Quality
DEQ will help us craft and then approve a wastewater capture and treatment plan.

Oregon Department Environmental QualityEnvironmental Health Supervisor – Department of Community Development
After having a professional advise us on where to install a leach line and septic tank, they will dig test pits on the property. We will then pay for a site evaluation, and someone from this department will come inspect the soil make-up and depth of the pits.

Oregon Department of AgricultureOregon Department of Agriculture – Food Safety Division
This department advises from a bird’s eye view up until we have the Land Use Application being processed, and wastewater treatment, septic system, and brewhouse layout planned. At that point, they will come out for a site visit.

Oregon Liquor Control CommissionOLCC (Oregon Liquor Control Commission)
An online application must be completed and a license issued before we can produce, store, sell, or serve alcoholic beverages.

Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade BureauTTB (Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau)
An online Brewer’s Notice application must be completed and a license issued before we can legally produce, store, sell, or serve alcoholic beverages.