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Reusing distillery effluent water

 
Ann Torrence
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Location: Torrey, UT; 6,840'/2085m; 7.5" precip; 125 frost-free days
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Were someone to build a distillery, what strategies would you consider to turn the effluent from a waste to an asset? Some friends have just taken up this quixotic quest to distill alcohol in the driest state in the land. They would be on a septic system, but there is an obvious opportunity to create something out of the water waste stream that doesn't currently exist for competing culinary water uses in our area, i.e. hotels and restaurants. The property in question is about an acre, the annual water outflow could be 500,000 gallons, probably in bursts, not a constant stream. That translates to about 1.5 acre/ft if they watered the entire property, so there is real potential to grow useful yields.

According to this article, "Normal steep waters,combined and added to washings etc. are usually regarded as having a BOD of about 150mg/i, and are conducive to rapid biological breakdown." Table 2, which I attach as a screenshot, summarizes the typical UK characterized effluent.

Clearly there is a lot that can be done with this if you think of it as a yield rather than a waste. It's probably too nitrogen-rich right out of the gate to grow fruit trees, but the pH has some value here in the land of highly alkaline soils. This might be the ideal place in Utah to grow blueberries! Ok, maybe not. But what resources would you recommend our friends to consult? The PDM pages on household greywater have some pretty pictures, but that's not enough to develop a plan.

This probably isn't a DIY project, would have to be incorporated into their business plan and installation, but let's encourage them with some visionary thinking, can we? And no bashing the idea of doing this at all. It's not my dream, okay? If it's going to happen, let's help them use permaculture principles to maximize the value of the water. Anything is better than flushing another tourist's toilet.
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Bill Bradbury
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Location: Richmond, Utah
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Awesome idea Anne, distilleries are popping up all over Utah! I don't drink, but I love that I can use local very high quality vodka(Salt City) in the tinctures that I make.

Here in Cache valley we have a slaughter house(Miller's) that turns it's waste into compost that is distributed throughout the state. They use settling ponds to remove the liquid and then turn to a typical composting procedure.

I think the acidic nature of the effluent would make it difficult to use raw, but after settling in a system of 2-3 ponds with acid loving aquatic plants and then composting with the spent grains, there could be a large amount of quite useful product. I don't know the details of such a system, but I'm sure it could be worked out.

More out on the fringe is the idea of feeding algae with effluence(this is currently being done with sewage) in order to generate electricity via a bio-gas generator.
 
Ann Torrence
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Maybe one of the lower ponds to could feed cranberry bogs? That'd be a Utah novelty. There are plenty of ranchers around here that would take the spent grains or pomace from fruit. I kind of doubt these folks want to raise livestock since they won't be living on the property, but their neighbors do. There'd be a real opportunity for pigs, which no one around here is doing at all. I like the idea of growing compost/mulch crops from acidic tolerant plants. If done right, it could turn into a park suitable for hosting weddings and other events.
 
Bill Bradbury
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I like the way you think, that would be a great way to sustain a park!

I think spent grains or pomace alone would not be a very good feed, but together you might actually have a commercially viable product.

I've been lazy, but your corn will be there soon.
 
R Scott
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Feeding the top of a swale system, similar to how geoff lawton treated the duck pond at the top of the property on his videos. Call it a holding or retention pond or whatever the correct .gov name for it is.

The will need to include in their business plan how to remove topsoil, because they will be making enough of it they will start creating problems (the building becomes the low point of the property).

Maybe they should be making compost. I am sure there is a market for that.
 
Ann Torrence
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R Scott wrote:Feeding the top of a swale system, similar to how Geoff Lawton treated the duck pond at the top of the property on his videos.

Do you recall which Lawton video?

Swales...I put 3 in on a 3 acre property that turn out to be most useful managing our spring and late fall irrigation water rights. They don't call it flood irrigation for nothing when it's my turn It could definitely be a tool for these folks.
 
Ann Torrence
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Bill Bradbury wrote:I like the way you think, that would be a great way to sustain a park!

Most wineries I know of do a good side business hosting weddings, can't think how a distillery would walk away from that revenue stream, especially in this tourist destination. I even planned a venue in our new system. The pond...or tailwater catchment basin or something is going to be sited with the viewshed for bridal photographs as a sector, you can be sure of that.

Bill Bradbury wrote:I've been lazy, but your corn will be there soon.

Awesome - plenty of time, May would be plenty soon.
 
R Scott
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Ann Torrence wrote:
R Scott wrote:Feeding the top of a swale system, similar to how Geoff Lawton treated the duck pond at the top of the property on his videos.

Do you recall which Lawton video?

Swales...I put 3 in on a 3 acre property that turn out to be most useful managing our spring and late fall irrigation water rights. They don't call it flood irrigation for nothing when it's my turn It could definitely be a tool for these folks.


No, I can't remember. It might have been in the pdc but I thought it was a free one. I have only watched a few hundred hours of Lawton videos, to remember it at all means it struck me as particularlyl useful.

Top of the system was a duck pond that got input from a road or culvert. That flushed the nutrient into the swale system, with non food heavy feeders and bio accumulators at the top to deal with runoff potential toxins-willow, bamboo, etc. Then lighter feeders as you went down.
 
siu-yu man
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Ann & RS, it was the "5 acres on a budget masterclass" video. here's the trailer:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=avvLgrpb6Mo
i believe it was a free one as well, but not sure if it's still on his video page.

i was initially thinking that phragmites could work as phytoremediator, which could also produce (a) biomass for fuel in the distillation process and (b) raw material for alcohol production. both/either of these could help close the loop and reduce the amount of inputs needed in production.

however, it seems according to this, phrags don't like acidic soil:
http://www.naturalmedicinalherbs.net/herbs/p/phragmites-australis=common-reed.php

maybe cattails? they have a ton of starch, could be a good substitute for potatoes.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Hi Ann, one of the best uses for distillery effluent is to grow Wasabi in a pond fed this byproduct. Since Wasabi is a water plant, and likes fairly acidic conditions, using a ditch/artificial stream fitted with flow breaks and arrowroot, cattails and other aquatic plants will help reduce the acidity just enough for the Wasabi to grow well in the pond at the end of this ditch/stream. Wasabi is a great cash crop too.
 
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