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Statewide Winery Order
Wine Institute submitted an extensive comment package responding to the State Water
Resources Control Board’s (SWRCB) draft Winery Order by the August 5th comment
deadline. The Winery Order will create a statewide permit for wineries, to address
concerns over discharges to groundwater. The SWRCB is expecting to consider
adoption of the Winery Order at its December 15th meeting. Based on conversations
with SWRCB staff it appears that significant changes have been made to the proposed Winery Order. Many of these changes appear to be in response to concerns that we raised in our written comments, for which we are grateful because this makes a more reasonable and workable permit. However, we know that there are areas where we remain concerned and others in which we simply do not know the specifics of what is being proposed.
We believe that adopting this order on December 15th would not give the necessary time to fully analyze the impacts of what’s being proposed and therefore request consideration of the Order be postponed to allow adequate time for review and discussion with SWRCB staff. The additional time will help ensure the Winery Order not only addresses water quality concerns but does so while balancing the economic impacts that will be created by the Order, thus resulting in a workable and reasonable permit.
It is our understanding that significant changes have been made to the tiering structure within the Winery Order. The SWRCB is proposing Tier 4 to include wineries producing between 1,000,000 and 15,000,000 gallons of process water annually. There is significant difference in economics for wineries at the top and bottom ends of the proposed tier. Wine Institute requests that the top tier be split to ensure that the costs of upgrades and fees be appropriate to all wineries included in each tier.
Wine Institute appreciates the proposed changes made to the draft Winery Order to more appropriately tailor groundwater monitoring requirements to risk factors rather than size of a winery. However, Wine Institute would like to ensure that the risk factors included are appropriate. From the beginning, Wine Institute has advocated that groundwater monitoring requirements be tied to known groundwater risk factors. It is important that data from existing regional groundwater monitoring networks be used, and situations that present a risk to groundwater be the trigger for monitoring. It is also unclear what situations will require groundwater monitoring for wineries that land apply process water or have process water ponds
and whether the triggers that will require monitoring in those situations are appropriate.
Coordination Between ILRP and Winery Order
Wineries using process water to irrigate commercial crops are subject to irrigated lands regulatory programs (ILRP) in some regions of the state. The East San Joaquin Order is precedential and all future I LRP in the state will have to follow its nitrogen management requirements. Wineries with vineyards subject to ILRP with nitrogen management requirements should be able to utilize their ILRP management and reporting requirements to meet the requirements of the Winery Order. This will prevent unnecessary duplication of monitoring and reporting efforts as well as potentially conflicting reporting if the requirements are different.
Wine Institute has expressed concern regarding requirements in earlier drafts about pond lining requirements for ponds that contain small amounts of process water that are used for other purposes. These ponds may be used for irrigation, fire control, frost protection, or aesthetic purposes and do not present the same level of risk to groundwater as primary treatment ponds. The cost of lining these ponds could be significant and the potential groundwater protection is not matched by the costs of lining.
Subsurface Disposal Systems
Wine Institute understands that all subsurface disposal systems at Tier 4 wineries will be subject to effluent limits. This will require the installation of pre-treatment systems to ensure effluent limits are met. Installation of these systems is a significant added cost. For example, it cost $2 million for a winery producing approximately 3,000,000 gallons of process water annually to install a pre-treatment system. There are two potential solutions to reduce the significant costs this requirement creates. Either split the top tier into two tiers and require effluent limits for only the largest wineries or target the limits in areas where they are necessary and creating a true risk to groundwater.
Wine Institute is concerned that the draft Winery Order will require wineries to upgrade commingled domestic systems by separating the treatment of domestic and winery process water to obtain coverage under the Winery Order. Wine Institute has proposed solutions following the SWRCB’s existing OWTS policy that would allow wineries with existing systems that are
properly sized and were engineered to manage commingled waste to be allowed to continue to operate.
Wine Institute understands that significant changes are being proposed to the monitoring and reporting requirements included in the Winery Order. We appreciate that our concerns around the potential necessity and costs of these requirements were recognized by staff. However, we have not yet had an opportunity to see the specifics of what is being proposed and want to ensure that we have enough time to fully analyze the new proposal to ensure the requirements are
In August, the SWRCB proposed a need for 17 PYs to meet the needs of managing the Winery Order at a cost of $3.4 million. These costs seem excessive and Wine Institute urges the Winery Order be drafted in a way to reduce costs for implementation to save time for both wineries and water board staff tasked with overseeing implementation of the Winery Order. We are also concerned that if proposed fees are based on the current tier structure there will be significant disparities due to the vast size differences between wineries at the top and bottom ends of some of the tiers.