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It's difficult to offer advice or suggestions with so little information. However, it would be prudent to contact your local authorities regarding building codes if you have to build a septic system. You'll need to know how much waste material you may be generating and how you'll dispose of it. You need that for the TTB anyway. There may be regional as well as state environmental regs you have to follow.

Good luck!

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what are the requirements for the septic in a small distillary. I live in a rural area and was curious if I would need a special septic to operate.

Another word of advise on septic systems. I have been a builder for 42 years. Septic systems no mater where you are is a controlled system. Micro organism's within the tank is what keeps them working properly. You need to be real careful what you dump into them. If for instance you dump an amount of alcohol in it it will kill the bacteria and quit working. The same goes with pesticides. You may have to monthly put into the system some of the bugs needed to keep it working. Coop

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what are the requirements for the septic in a small distillery. I live in a rural area and was curious if I would need a special septic to operate.

I assume you are referring to general distillery trade waste, not from the sinks and bathrooms.

We operate in a rural area also and initially we had to truck all our trade waste off for external disposal, at great cost. We now treat the waste on-site. No septic, or air assisted bio-cycle system will cope with distillery trade waste for three reasons;

  1. The pH is way too low
  2. THE BOD is too high (typical of boiled waste)
  3. The amount of residual alcohol is often too high in 'small' distilleries (we often dump our stillage at 2% residual alcohol, as its too expensive to strip-out the remainder)

We established an on-site treatment system FOR THE TRADE WASTE ONLY (all sink and bathroom effluent is treated in a standard AWT septic system) comprising of three 10kl concrete tanks. The waste is transfered on a batch basis from one to the other, and then finally sprayed out onto rural pastures. The tanks work as follows;

  1. Tank 1 takes the raw waste, and holds until we have about 10kl, we then pH adjust to 7.2 with Calcium Carbonate. Residual chlorine is resolved with H2O2. BOD is measured, as well as copper, lead and N2 levels (local EPA requirement). Calcium Carbonate dissolves very slowly so we need to recirculate this tank for about 24 hours
  2. Tank 2 has a pump over aeration system that fixes the BOD and dissolved O2 levels, this again takes about 24 hours of circulation. Bentonite is added in the last hour of aeration just before transfer to tank 3.
  3. Tank 3 is the settling tank, we settle the sludge for 24 hours, the clear water is then fed by pump to an open field for irrigation. The sludge is drained monthly, and dumped onto open compost mounds.

This system has been working flawlessly for 2 years and has proved very cheap to operate.

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The waste grains from distillation (maybe also fermentation if you distill off the grain) are actually very suitable as animal feed once the residual alcohol is removed. Very high in protein. Can be sold to feed producers or the local farmer.

Another waste product is CO2. You can capture that and sell as well (depending on your scale).

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thanks for the great info. it is helping me move slowly foreward.


EPA and local regulations on waste can be hazardous to your sanity trying to scope them out. Our experience to date is that septic systems for distillery waste products in the U.S. are prohibited, but this is not a comprehensive rule. In the midwestern U.S., where I am, we have major aquifer issues, such that all untreated waste (i.e., septic tanks) must be stored and removed by truck to a controlled dump site. (As noted above, this can be prohibitively expensive).

Good luck, and keep us posted on your progress!

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