Wastewater Management Guidance Manual

In 2013, the Brewers Association (BA) published three sustainability guidance manuals related to the key environmental aspects and impacts of craft brewing. One of the manuals, Water and Wastewater: Treatment/Volume Reduction Manual, addresses water and wastewater man­agement. The wastewater section of that manual provides a basic primer on brewery wastewater effluent and case stud­ies of on-site wastewater pretreatment options.

Since publishing the first water and wastewater guid­ance manual, there has been significant regulatory and brewery activity. The continued rapid growth of craft brew­ing in the United States has stimulated concern from local municipal sewer districts as they begin to accept and treat increasing levels of brewery wastewater.

For many municipalities, accepting the additional loadings from craft brewing can be safely done with­in their operating design specifications. This can eventually lead to an unbalanced allocation of fees for treatment ver­sus residential users. In response, municipalities are beginning to characterize craft breweries as significant industrial us­ers that should be permitted, monitored and assessed high strength surcharges to treat the organic and solid materials inherent in brewery wastewater.

The Manual

This manual is written as a more advanced look at craft brewery wastewater management and provides information that can help develop an effective partnership with local wastewater treatment facilities.

The vast majority of craft brewers are currently discharging wastewater to a municipal wastewater system for proper treatment and discharge to a river, stream or lake. Most municipalities have ordinances with general and specific prohibitions on what can be discharged to their piping and treatment infrastructure. It is important for craft brewers to understand the specific requirements of their local municipal system to avoid discharging wastewater that could cause a municipality to violate their environmental permits or to adversely affect municipal employee health and safety or the environment. In order to address these needs, this manual covers:

  1. Sustainability Benchmarking Report: Results from the 2015 Sustainability Benchmarking Report are discussed, providing a baseline for understanding some costs associated with wastewater disposal.
  2. General Municipal Ordinance Limitations: This manual outlines the parameters monitored by municipalities, and how brewery wastewater affects their ability to comply with operating permits.
  3. Rates and Surcharges: Understanding how rates and surcharges may be applied to a brewery will help develop strategies to work with municipalities and reach workable solutions.
  4. Best Practices: Some general, and specific, real-world strategies are provided to help brewers implement workable solutions to wastewater issues.


Brewers Association (BA) staff and a core review team of BA member craft brewers worked closely with the sustainability management consulting team from Antea® Group to develop the manuals and tools found in this sustainability resource. Antea Group’s team has nearly a century of cumulative experience in the brewing and beverage industries, specializing in delivering sustainable results from strategy through implementation, with an emphasis on integrating sustainability into core business practices.

For more information on this resource, or assistance in implementing these sustainable practices in your brewery, please contact BA Sustainability Mentor, John Stier.