Tight wastewater restrictions are somewhat common in small towns.  Wastewater discharge requirements for businesses in Seattle have the distinction of consistently being the strictest for a large city anywhere in the US- at least that we are aware of.  And it’s not just King County; Washington state (particularly west of the Cascades) and the Department of Ecology are stricter than most.a

What’s the big deal?

It makes sense that a city needs to know what is entering the sewer, and who the largest contributors to flow and/or load are.  Imagine yourself in charge of operating a large fermenter with a variable but continuous wort supply.  Throw in some toxins, periodically deluge it with stormwater, and add a whole lot of people who don’t even care what enters your fermenter and you get the idea.  This challenge is why we love what we do!  This challenge also highlights why some management is needed.

Who is King County Industrial Wastewater?

King County Industrial Wastewater manages the industrial wastewater pretreatment program for the City of Seattle and beyond.  They have proven good to work with over the years and they have an impressive background, but they ask for a lot.  For instance in the case of breweries, all must comply with stated discharge limits, and any brewery producing over 3,000 barrels of beer per year is required to install a full on pretreatment system.  It’s a lot to ask.  See here for KCIW’s Best Management Practices for breweries.

Some projects require a wastewater pretreatment system to be designed and installed.  BWD does that.  Other projects are more administrative and just require a painful King County Industrial Wastewater Pretreatment Authorization application.  BWD does that too.  Some of these applications are new, some are for a renewal.  You guessed it, BWD does renewals too.

Seattle Public Utilities too?

Related to this is Seattle Public Utilities (SPU).  For most businesses, water in = water out; which means sewer fees are based on water usage.  However food and beverage producers are unique since a lot of water winds up being shipped off site as product or byproducts.  This means a sewer deduction should be factored in.  SPU has an established deduct meter program.  This is great and it sounds simple enough, but its full of intricacies and difficult get it all set up right.  BWD does that.

What else does Brewery Wastewater Design do?

Brewery Wastewater Design (BWD) does work all over the US and helps more than just breweries.  To date, Seattle & Washington clients outside of the brewery space have ranged from seafood processing, to wood stain manufacturing, to a small abattoir.  Also distilleries, cider, wine, and kombucha.

In the fall of 2023, John Mercer gave a talk at the Master Brewers Association of the Americas (MBAA) National Conference, held in Seattle, and it was specific to Seattle and King County Industrial Wastewater permit compliance.  You can flip through that talk here.

Don’t hesitate to reach out to BWD for whatever you need in order to achieve compliance with your King County Industrial Wastewater or Department of Ecology permit.

Contact John:


Brewery wastewater pretreatment