New York Wine & GrapeNews



The Press Deck 4-11-18 ~ Field Notes: Wastewater Survey ~ Ag Loan Fund Program ~ Potential of the Hudson Valley ~ FLX Dry Rosé ~ NY Award Winners

Valerie Ross

Category: Industry

The Press Deck 4-11-18 ~ Field Notes: Wastewater Survey ~ Ag Loan Fund Program ~ Potential of the Hudson Valley ~ FLX Dry Rosé ~ NY Award Winners


Dear Friends,
Do you work at or represent a New York winery that discharges your wastewater to groundwater? (If no, please skip to the last paragraph of this Field Notes for information on some great 'reads' for your summer - yes, it will come! - vacation.)

If yes, did you know that you are required to obtain a State Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (SPDES) permit by Federal and New York State Environmental Law. Your "industrial wastewater" discharges must be covered by a SPDES permit or your business risks fines of up to $50,000 a day. NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) views non-compliance as an issue in the alcohol beverage industry especially in rural areas without access to municipal sewers and wastewater treatment plants. DEC also acknowledges that compliance with their SPDES permit can be quite onerous and expensive.
DEC plans to remedy the problem of industry non-compliance by creating a General State Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (SPDES) permit specifically designed for wastewater discharges generated by wine, beer, spirits and hard cider producers. The "General Permit" will apply uniform standards for management of process and sanitary wastewater, streamline the permitting process, and reduce costs and administrative burden for both DEC and alcohol beverage producers. Scott Osborn (Fox Run Vineyards) and I attended a January meeting hosted by DEC in Albany to discuss their proposal. We were also joined by representatives from the New York Farm Bureau and the New York Brewers Association. We all felt that DEC has developed a reasonable standard for an alcohol beverage industry specific "General Permit."
DEC now needs industry input to refine their proposed "General Permit." They have posted a survey to the Environmental Notice Bulletin, and Nixon Peabody has also posted a comprehensive blog post analyzing the DEC bulletin. I worked on the issue of wastewater discharge while I oversaw the One Stop Shop at Empire State Development, and I developed a  comprehensive Q&A on best practices with DEC. However, Scott Osborn informed me that wastewater management has been an ongoing issue for the wine industry for more than 10 years, and the implementation of a industry specific "General Permit" is needed.
Now is the best opportunity to contribute your comments and feedback to the proposed "General Permit." NYWGF has developed an anonymous survey to understand current industry wastewater management practices. The feedback provided in the survey will be shared with DEC to help them determine feasible thresholds and wastewater management infrastructure costs. DEC is interested in making compliance simple and affordable. Please help this effort by completing a short 17 question survey, and if you are interested in participating in a focus group with DEC please email

On a lighter note, I committed myself to reading more books and educating myself about the world of wine.  I recently finished Evan Dawson's Summer in a Glass, which chronicles the stories of 10 wineries in the Finger Lakes.  Evan's book helped fill in more of my New York Wine knowledge through his excellent storytelling of the great people in our industry.  At the recommendation of Lisa Hallgren from Ravines Wine Cellars, I started reading John Winthrop Hager's Riesling Rediscovered,which features a section dedicated to New York growers and wineries. I am excited to expand my understanding of this important New York varietal.  On the fiction side, I am big fan of Graham Greene, and I have been engrossed for the past week in The Quiet America.  It has me dreaming of making a return trip to Vietnam.


Sam Filler, Executive Director