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Formed more than a decade ago by a small team of dedicated, environmentally-conscious scientists, engineers and business professionals, Econse Water Technologies has grown to become a forward-thinking Canadian water-tech company that builds decentralized water and wastewater treatment solutions to help mitigate the effects of water pollution and climate change.

Headquartered in Hamilton, Ont., with installations across Canada and the U.S., the company continues to solve many water-related crises facing the modern world.

“Our solutions are helping industries meet their environmental obligations, while growing their business and serving the local economy,” said Econse CEO Derek Davy. “Our team is deeply knowledgeable about not only the environmental challenges and regulations our customers face, but also the business challenges. This enables us to create innovative, effective and affordable solutions for onsite wastewater treatment.”

Davy says that not only does water intersect almost every business, it is a critical part of everything people do. “It is the missing link in the climate change story, but fortunately is one of the most actionable ones,” he said. “The more people understand the water crisis, the more we can all work together to help stop water pollution. And that creates a better environment for us and future generations.”

Treatment challenges

When it comes to wastewater treatment, every industry and business can pose its own unique challenge. The Econse team takes the time to learn about the specific needs and goals of each business before it recommends a treatment solution. Factors that must be considered include volume of wastewater, number of solids that need to be removed, chemical make-up, and whether the business is connected to a municipal water system or not.

“Ultimately, what we do is address the issue of water pollution by treating the problem at the source before contaminants get into our waters, lakes and oceans,” said Davy.

Distillery equipment

One of the companies that Econse recently worked with is Bench Brewing Company, located on eight acres of farmland in the Niagara Benchlands. The brewery is situated in the town of Lincoln, among some of Ontario’s finest agricultural land with orchards, vineyards and tender fruit farms that provide the ideal location for making premium beer.

“Our vision is to produce premium quality beer while embracing the local surroundings of Niagara’s Benchlands, including barrel-aged and mixed fermentation beers, as well as IPAs, lagers and pale ales,” said Matt Giffen, founder and owner of Bench Brewing Company.

With a focus on sustainability and stewardship, Bench Brewing Company is one of very few craft breweries that is both certified Carbon Neutral by Radicle Climate Smart and a Certified B Corporation.

Due to its location in a rural area without access to municipal sanitation lines, the production wastewater required a treatment solution as it was not possible to discharge directly into a septic system or the environment. 

“Many traditional wastewater treatment solutions require a large footprint and come with high capital expenses and operating costs,” said Giffen. “These traditional solutions would not be suitable for a company the size of Bench Brewing Company,”

When Bench Brewing Company first approached Econse about their project, it became clear that the best solution would be to treat the brewery effluent for non-potable reuse for Bench’s hops and apples. All domestic wastewater is completely separated from brewery effluent inside the brewery and sent to an onsite aqua wetland, and then a Waterloo Biofilter System for treatment and discharge in an onsite septic bed.

The challenge for Econse was to provide a compact, modular solution that would provide a purification system able to repurpose all of Bench’s brewery effluent onsite for use in irrigation and fertilizer.

Giffen says Econse’s approach for helping craft breweries combines an industry-specific education program on waste management with the equipment required to capture, treat and manage wastewater produced by the brewing process.  “This eliminates any untreated effluent leaving the brewery with all effluent treated and reused for agricultural practices, enabling Bench to be a zero-wastewater craft brewery,” said Giffen.

Bench Brewing Company headquarters

Compact system installed

The system Econse installed at Bench Brewing Company was originally designed to treat 25,000 litres per day and was upgraded to handle volumes up to 50,000 litres per day within the same footprint. The compact system includes a primary equalization vessel and processing tanks. Waste streams are captured and treated as they flow through the process.

“We treated and recycled all their production wastewater from the brewing process,” said Davy.

The system removes solids and organics, and treats and balances the water to a level suitable for non-potable reuse. “In this case, the water is used to irrigate several acres of hops and apples for use as ingredients in various Bench Brewing Company products,” he said. “Additionally, all the organic material is collected for compost. Everything is recycled and reused onsite. Nothing goes to waste.”

Giffen says the system’s real-time alerts and alarms will notify the brewery staff when the system is out of spec. “This helps prevent system errors from occurring and minimizes the operator’s time spent on wastewater management, while making reporting easy for staff and regulators,” he said.

By using the Econse system, Bench Brewing Company can focus on its zero-waste goals, reusing the collected wastewater solids for animal feed, compost, fertilizer and the non-potable reuse treated water for agricultural drip-irrigation.

Davy says Bench Brewing Company is unique in that they are “all in” on eliminating their waste footprint. “It’s one of the reasons they chose Econse – because our values around water and wastewater are perfectly aligned,” said Davy. “And now, thanks to the system we developed and implemented, they are one of very few breweries in the world who can claim zero wastewater. What makes that even more impressive is their size. They aren’t the biggest brewery, but they’re still able to accomplish big steps forward with Econse.”

Wastewater Award

For the work it did for Bench Brewing Company, Econse was recently awarded the Wastewater Award at the Canadian Water Summit for the most innovative and sustainable technology.

“Winning this award is a testament to the hard work, expertise and vision of our team, and our partnership with Bench Brewing Company,” said Davy. “We already know that we’re making a real difference, but it was still nice to receive this acknowledgement – and recognition – of our efforts to create a positive impact in the water sector. It demonstrates our commitment to preserving this valuable resource and providing accessible, real-world solutions for wastewater treatment.”

As for what the next few years holds for Econse, the company recently opened a new office in New York to better service the U.S. market. The company remains poised to continue growing its team and working with businesses across North America to help with onsite treatment solutions to help stop water pollution.

Kilter Brewing Co. taproom
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