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Fetzer Vineyards Using Regenerative Filtration, Worms, Microbes to Treat 100% of Winery Wastewater

Images credit: Fetzer Vineyards

Fetzer Vineyards, a leader in regenerative winegrowing, is revolutionizing the way U.S. wineries conserve water, announcing today that it will install the BioFiltro BIDA® System at its Mendocino winery. In doing so, Fetzer — a certified B Corp — will become the first American winery to use the  closed-loop biological wastewater treatment system to process 100 percent of its winery wastewater. Powered by billions of earthworms working rapidly in concert with beneficial microbes, the BIDA® System will begin processing Fetzer Vineyards' wastewater during the 2016 harvest season, accruing energy savings up to 85 percent over current wastewater treatment technologies and optimizing water conservation measures in support of the fight against climate change.

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"It's essential that we constantly ask ourselves if there is a better, more efficient and more regenerative way to approach our business, including the way we work with water," said Fetzer CEO Giancarlo Bianchetti. "BioFiltro offers a compelling process that aligns with our business goals as well as our overarching objective to leave the world a better place than we found it."

The BioFiltro BIDA® System

BioFiltro's patented BIDA® System is a passive aerobic bioreactor that catalyzes the digestive power of microbes and selected species of red earthworms to naturally remove up to 99 percent of contaminants from Fetzer Vineyards' wastewater, in as little as four hours. The chemical-free system consumes significantly less electricity than traditional wastewater treatment technologies such as aeration ponds, which require constant electricity to pump and circulate water. The BIDA® System works efficiently year-round in spite of seasonal fluctuations in wastewater flow as often seen in the wine industry, and generates compost-enhancing castings from worm digestion, returning nutrients to the soil.

Fighting climate change with worms

Global studies show that water scarcity and water stress are increasing, and as much as 15 to 35 percent of human withdrawals of water for agriculture are considered unsustainable.1 Achievement of climate change-related commitments such as those made at the Paris Climate Conference (COP21) will require that businesses strategically manage their water footprints for maximum efficacy while mitigating negative impacts. Natural, regenerative solutions such as the BIDA® System offer a new paradigm for water treatment systems, delivering closed-loop mechanisms that efficiently process wastewater on site and restore it to beneficial use, without significant energy output or emissions.  

Towards water-positive operations

"Innovating to naturally manage our water footprint is an important step in our journey to become Water Positive, essential to our goal of Net Positive operations by 2030," said Josh Prigge, Fetzer’s Director of Regenerative Development, who recently advocated for carbon-neutral winegrowing practices on a global scale at COP21. "With this new system we'll treat some 15 million gallons of water a year, with significant efficiency gains — and bring things full-circle with enhanced compost for our soils and clean water for vineyard and landscape irrigation. It's a win-win."

Fetzer has also participated in water conservation research and advocacy through collaborations with groups such as the Beverage Industry Environmental Roundtable (BIER) and Ceres' Connect the Drops campaign, both of which were commended for their water policy efforts at the White House Water Summit on Building a Sustainable Water Future in the United States last month. 

1 Source: UNWater.org: World Business Council for Sustainable Development, Water Facts and Trends 


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