The City’s Role
The federal Clean Water Act requires cities to regulate industries that discharge wastewater or stormwater to the city’s sewer system. As the City’s sewer and stormwater services provider, Environmental Services sets the pollutant limits and regulates industries to protect the city’s system and our watersheds.
Environmental Services requires those in the craft fermented beverage industry to control pollutants discharged to the sewer. We authorize discharge into the sewer system, monitor water quality, and inspect each facility once every three to five years.
Pollutants of Concern
The City’s pH range for discharges to the sanitary sewer is 5.0 to 11.5 standard units. Wastewater with pH values outside of that range can corrode pipes and are prohibited from being discharged to the sanitary sewer system.
Low pH substances (acids) include:
- Vinegar (acetic acid)
- Many sanitizing chemicals
- Finished beverage
High pH substances (alkalines) include:
- Bleach (sodium hypochlorite)
- Caustic (sodium hydroxide)
Prior to discharge to the sewer system, wastewater must be within discharge range of 5.0 to 11.5 standard units.
- Use a tank or similar vessel to capture both acidic and alkaline waste streams.
- Once the wastes are well mixed, test the resulting pH with a meter. If it is within the City’s allowable pH range of 5.0 and 11.5 standard units, then it may be discharged.
- If the pH is outside of the allowable range, then add an alkaline chemical to increase the pH or an acidic chemical to reduce the pH to within the allowable range.
- Mix wastewater well before testing the pH. Maintain a log documenting each batch of wastewater discharged to the sewer. The log should include date, discharge volume, pH at time of discharge, and pH meter calibration.
While the City’s wastewater treatment plant is designed to treat solids, highly concentrated solids can settle in the sewer pipes and obstruct flow. Discharges that obstruct a sewer line are prohibited.
Concentrated solids such as spent grains and yeast can be collected for beneficial re-uses. Below are a few examples of how spent grains and yeast can be repurposed:
- Agricultural: Spent grains and yeast can be used by local farmers and livestock owners for on-site composting and feed uses.
- Baking: Spent grains can be used by local baking businesses for breads, cookies, and even dog biscuits.
- Composting: Composted spent grains and yeast can be used to fertilizes fields, community gardens, and urban greenhouses.
- Supplemental Energy: Fuel-to-energy processes convert spent grain into biogas that can be used to generate energy.
For more information regarding sustainable brewing practices and beneficial re-uses, please visit:
Biochemical Oxygen Demand
Also known as BOD, this is a measurement of the amount of oxygen that bacteria at the wastewater treatment plant need to biodegrade pollutants. High BOD levels can result from the discharge of sugars, alcohol, or vinegar.
The Columbia Boulevard Wastewater Treatment Plant is designed to remove these pollutants from typical household wastewater. However, the BOD from craft fermented beverage facilities is much higher than typical wastewater and costs more to treat. Businesses creating craft fermented beverages pay an extra-strength charge to cover the increased treatment costs. Discharging large volumes of concentrated BOD material (product or raw materials) could have a negative effect on the treatment plant.
Please contact the Water Pollution Control Lab for guidance on how to manage large volumes.
Environmental Services Rules and Regulations
Monitoring Access Structure
Since craft fermented beverage manufacturers discharge pollutants of concern, these businesses are required to install and maintain a monitoring access structure (MAS) per ENB 4.35, Administrative Rules for Monitoring Access Structures. The purpose of the MAS is to provide a location for the City to take representative wastewater samples to determine compliance with City discharge standards and extra strength charges. The MAS is required to be installed in a location that captures all waste streams discharged by the business. Under certain conditions, craft fermented beverage manufacturers may request a variance that allows them to install a MAS in a location that only captures the pollutants of concern.
If the beverage manufacturer is also preparing and/or serving food, then a grease removal device must be installed to capture the water from grease-bearing drains. The device must be installed according to Oregon Plumbing Specialty Code and maintained according to City administrative rule ENB 4.26, Fats, Oils, and Grease Removal Program Administrative Rules. More information is also available from the Environmental Services’ Fats , Oils, and Grease (FOG) Program.
Extra Strength Sewer Charges
Wastewater with concentrated pollutants such as BOD and solids is considered “extra-strength” and costs more for the City to treat than wastewater from a residence. Please refer to Extra Strength Charge Program Administrative Rules for more information.
All chemical, wastewater, or product storage areas must be provided with secondary containment to protect both sanitary and storm sewer systems. More information on outdoor containment requirements can be found in the Environmental Services Source Control Manual. For indoor storage, depending on the stored material, the containment area may not be allowed to have drainage installed within the containment area. Special circumstances can be heard for either indoor or outdoor storage situations that cannot meet these requirements outright but can meet the intent.
Most businesses are charged for sewer use based on their water consumption. This program may financially benefit large-scale beverage producers by measuring the site’s actual discharge through metering. To participate in the submeter program, businesses must submit an application, purchase, and install a City approved submeter in a City approved location. Any maintenance associated with submeters is the sole responsibility of the customer.
More information is available in the Guide to the Industrial Submeter Program.
Solid Waste and Recycling to Prevent Stormwater Contamination
To protect stormwater from contamination from wastes, businesses must meet the requirements of the Environmental Services Source Control Manual.
Businesses may need to meet on-site stormwater management requirements per the Stormwater Management Manual. Environmental Services oversees stormwater facility maintenance.
Discharging wastewater from the production of fermented beverages requires a City-issued permit. The type of permit depends upon the volume of process wastewater discharged and the compliance history of the business. Permit types include:
Alternative Discharge Control Mechanism — The Alternative Discharge Control Mechanism (ADCM) is an authorization to discharge that requires businesses to implement best management practices and the submission of annual certification reports. Producers of craft fermented beverages are required to apply for discharge authorization.
Industrial Wastewater Discharge Permit — The Industrial Wastewater Discharge Permit is a “traditional” environmental permit requiring continuous pH monitoring and monthly regulatory reporting. Craft fermented beverage producers that discharge higher volumes of wastewater may be required to apply for a permit.
If the primary activity of a business is the manufacture of beverages and it discharges stormwater to surface waters, a 1200-Z general industrial stormwater discharge permit is required or a No Exposure Certification (NEC) for exclusion from permitting.
- All city code and administrative rules referenced here can be found in the City of Portland Administrative Rules.
- Administrative rules regarding discharges can be found in the Administrative Rules for Discharges to the City Storm Sewer and Drainage System.