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Washington Wine Could Cost More With State Squeeze On Wastewater


Growlers of wine set to be shipped to retail outlets are on display at Wilridge Winery in Seattle.

Growlers of wine set to be shipped to retail outlets are on display at Wilridge Winery in Seattle.

Elaine Thompson/AP

Washington state is proposing changes to how winery wastewater is handled. And that could mean consumers are in for some “bottle shock” when their favorite Washington wine gets more expensive.

Winemakers figure they make at least three gallons of wastewater for every gallon of wine.

Very large wineries are already required to get state permits. But Washington may require the smaller tier wineries — those making more than 7,500 cases a year — to get permits now too.

Brett Isenhower, a winemaker outside Walla Walla, said his rural winery would have to haul water away in trucks, or build an evaporating pond on site.

“We use quite a bit of water for cleaning barrels, for cleaning tanks, for cleaning all of our equipment especially for harvest,” he said. “When you use that much water, it’s heavy and expensive to haul and it costs a lot of money to process.”

Overall, affected wineries would have until 2019 to get into compliance.

The state of Washington says it’s worked closely with the industry over four years to develop these rules. The state is taking public comments on the proposed rules until February.

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