Case Study - Effective Water Management
31 May 2012
Our Commitment: We will
engage actively with SEPA and other relevant authorities in the
development of Scotland's River Basin Management Plans to ensure
that a sustainable and good quality water supply, on which the
industry critically depends, is maintained.
Distillers take stewardship of the water environment seriously.
We need pristine water supplies to make whisky. Our focus is on
consistent supply of good quality water, obtained without detriment
to other users. Used water must be safely returned to the
SEPA controls water abstractions and discharges and the industry
is committed to full compliance with the conditions of its
licenses. We are taking an active role in the delivery of the Water
Framework Directive through the National Advisory Group and area
Working closely with SEPA, regular awareness raising visits are
organised and water management issues discussed. Through our
participation in Scotland's River Basin
Management Plan, a programme of measures is being developed,
including improved water efficiency, treatment, and improvements to
habitats and morphology.
Distilleries have water monitoring plans, with many installing
equipment to monitor abstraction impacts. Several distilleries
participated in a pilot to assist SEPA in developing its policy on
abstraction regulation. Groundwater might be better managed, for
example, by matching actual abstracted volumes to process demand.
This will reduce the amount taken, and pressure on groundwater
Area Manager - West Area North, Andy Rosie, said that SEPA was
very pleased with the Industry's commitment to working in harmony
with the high quality environment in which they operate, and to
work in partnership with the environmental regulator on a range of
initiatives to build a strong understanding of each others concerns
Water is a valuable resource. We are committed to using it
Diageo's Leven packaging plant has picked up a prestigious
Business Environment Partnership award for innovative work on the
efficient use of water. Potential reductions of 222,000 litres of
water per annum were identified through
more efficient 'Clean in Place' (CIP) procedures for vessels and
pipes between bottling runs. Since 2006, the Leven plant has
reduced its water consumption by 12%.
The water recovery plant at Diageo's new Roseisle distillery
will meet 95% of the distillery's demand.
At Chivas' bottling, blending and warehousing site at Dumbarton,
a commercial vehicle washing plant has been installed to ensure
efficient use of recycled water.
Sustainable drainage systems can also help manage surface water,
for example from storage areas.
Managing Effluents Responsibly
Copper stills are essential to whisky, uniquely influencing the
spirit's character. Above certain levels, however, copper may be
harmful to aquatic animals and plants. The industry works hard to
minimise copper presence in discharges and it is essential to
maintain that commitment.
Working with Living Water, Wm Grant's Glenfiddich distillery in
Dufftown has installed a natural, gravity-fed ecological treatment
system. The plant achieves overall biological removal efficiencies
in excess of 95%. The effluent has residual copper levels of less
than 0.5 parts per million. As a Special Area of Conservation
designated by Scottish Ministers, such actions are vital to protect
the River Fiddich.
The ecological system is planted with 16 native species of
wetland plants and willow trees, which bind copper onto their
roots, rhizomes or woody material, thus preventing its release into
the environment. Deer, ducks, foxes and red-legged
partridges have all been spotted in the area. Similar wetlands have
been developed at Benrinnes (Diageo) and Glenallachie (Chivas
The Edrington Group's The Macallan distillery has installed an
alternative technological solution to the same issue. Its ion
exchange system - the result of a local industry demonstration
project - removes copper from discharges. Spent lees from the
stills are settled, passed through sand filters and two resin ion
exchange columns. Copper ions from solution are exchanged for
similarly charged ions attached to the immobile solid resin in the
columns. The dissolved copper
concentration in the spent lees is reduced to just a fraction of
its original concentration at 0.2 parts per million. Recovered
copper is used as a preservative for fence posts, whilst the resin
can also be re-used.
The collaboration demonstrated what can be achieved when
companies work together to achieve economies of scale but also that
the technology is only viable where effluent volume is sufficient.
The challenge is now to develop the technology
cost effectively for smaller single distillery volumes.