Winery recycles 51m litres of water

Winery recycles 51m litres of water

By Ann K Ryan | Crystal Komanchuk | Jennifer Cisneros of BioMicrobics
Photos by BioMicrobics

When its leach field failed, the owners of Napa Valley winery Castello di Amorosa knew it was time to reconsider their water system. California had experienced a series of droughts, which resulted in increased water-use restrictions.

In tank filingA solution was found talking to BioMicrobics, based in the US, but having two distributors in South Africa. Plumbing Africa met with the company when they exhibited at PLUMBDRAIN Africa 2018.


Filling the tanks.


“The owner of the winery is very conscious about conserving natural resources on the property. A major drought in 2014 led us to be proactive and look for a replacement system that would save water,” says Tim Dexter, maintenance manager at Castello di Amorosa.

The winery’s environmental values led to a search for the best treatment-system science, design, and tank material.

“Corrosion-resistant fibreglass tanks provide an advantage in the winery’s acidic soil,” says Dexter.

Three ZCL | Xerxes 83 000ℓ fibreglass water tanks replaced the previous concrete tanks. A BioMicrobics BioBarrier® HSMBR® (High-Strength Membrane Bioreactor) treatment system is installed inside each tank. Placed inside the ends of the tanks, the aeration grids below the membrane modules promote aerobic microbes that metabolise and digest the wastewater and then passes through the membranes for ultrafiltration. The treated water is then 99.9% removed of the contaminants and discharges out of the ZCL | Xerxes Tank.

Custom system meets varying needs of winery

“A major advantage of pairing ZCL | Xerxes tanks with the BioMicrobics treatment system is that together, they are scalable and modular. We can create a system that meets ariser closeup pre airline effluent line winery’s needs,” says Sheldon Sapoznik, owner of Wine to Water Sales Group and a representative for BioMicrobics’ winery wastewater treatment systems.


A close-up of the pre-airline and filter line.


“Each tank operates independently to meet the winery’s water needs, which can vary significantly day to day. During the most water-intensive times — when wine is bottled, and barrels are washed — all three tank systems run, treating up to 34 000ℓ of water per day. A whole day’s water flow may go in and out of the three tanks in less than an hour. That level of flow requires surge protection for a high volume of flow so the treatment process isn’t interrupted. Our tanks are designed to meet this need,” says Sapoznik.

Over 51m litres of water treated and reused in first year

The BioBarrier system’s flat-sheet membranes (.03 to 1.3 micron pores) physically separates the solids and bacteria from wastewater to keep them in the tank, allowing the treated water (high-quality effluent) to exit the tanks using a small submerged filtrate pump. The resulting clean water can be reused in numerous ways, including vineyard irrigation. 

“In our first year of operation, ending in May 2018, the winery treated and reused 1.35 million gallons of water. That’s the amount of water we would have had to source from somewhere else. Our water now has two life cycles,” says Dexter.

Both the winery and land have recently been Napa Green-certified, which means they meet all the regulatory components needed for environmental sustainability, including water conservation and water efficiency.

Low sludge maintenance

InstallingThe Castello di Amorosa wastewater system is designed to store waste sludge for at least one year of continuous operation. This minimises cleaning and maintenance — a plus especially for small wineries where the owners do the maintenance themselves.


Installing the tanks.


ZCL| Xerxes and BioMicrobics work together in a variety of wastewater applications, including primary treatment of winery wastewater and secondary treatment of domestic wastewater. Its partnership gives customers turnkey solutions, which eliminates the need to source multiple components of a water treatment system from separate vendors. It can meet customers’ specific application needs, including those of smaller wineries.

Application highlights

  • 51m litres of wastewater treated and reused in first year of operation
  • Tanks and treatment system are a high-efficiency, low-maintenance pairing
  • Corrosion resistance of fibreglass is advantageous in a winery’s acidic soil
  • Three 83 000ℓ of fibreglass water tanks.

BioMicrobics, based in the US, has two distributors in South Africa: 

  • Tupelox works closely with a number of clients (government and private) to provide water and wastewater treatment and management to communities, small to large villages, and small municipalities. 
  • Danamara focuses on remediation and revitalisation of failed septic tanks, systems, lagoons, ponds, and other applications to reduce pollution (untreated sewage) in the environment with BioAugmentation Bacteria products and RetroFAST® Septic System Enhancement.

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