DEWCO Engineers Design Wastewater Neutralization System

dewco engineers design wastewater neutralization system
When Upslope Brewing Company in Boulder, CO was recently tasked with finding a cost-effective solution for their wastewater challenges, they called DEWCO – and with their solution, DEWCO may have revolutionized the brewing industry.

Early in 2018, City of Boulder officials informed Upslope, and all breweries within the city limits, that monitoring of wastewater discharge would soon begin.  Prior to 2018, no standards had been established for these businesses on their wastewater discharge.  This was big news, and a big issue, for many of the micro-to-small sized breweries in the area.

As part of their brewing process, most brewers engage in a CIP (clean-in-place) tank cleaning process.  This process was resulting in high concentrations of acid and caustic (corrosive, destructive) fluids circulating through the brewery tanks and other equipment, down their drains and ultimately into the city’s sewer system.  This had been happening for years, in some cases decades, resulting in issues with the city’s sewage piping, infrastructure and treatment systems.

Enter heightened compliance mandates from Federal and Municipal officials.  New laws were quickly enacted that regulated the pH (measurement of acidity and other harmful chemical levels in the wastewater) that breweries are permitted to discharge.  The allowable level was established in a range of 6-to-10.  Dramatically lower than early testing results.  Now, if brewers don’t meet and maintain the criteria, fines could be assessed for discharges outside the allowable range.

Often, micro/small breweries don’t have the budget or physical space for a large wastewater operation.  In Upslope Brewery’s case, numerous mechanical and engineering issues made it a difficult and expensive problem.  However, after several brainstorming sessions and countless hours of engineering and design, Sean Doyle with DEWCO was able to crack the code.  “We found an economical and reliable solution in the treatment system designed by Sean Doyle at DEWCO” said Ryan Smith, Brewery Engineer/Facilities Manager at Upslope.  “Working with Sean made a compliance solution easy.”

Through Doyle’s design, DEWCO was able to deliver a cost-effective collection, neutralization system for Upslope’s wastewater.  A prototype of sorts, the DEWCO Waste Management System (WMS) collects the fluids from several caustic and acid rinse cycles in a collection tank.  Many times, the solution, once collected, is already close to being within the mandated pH specifications.  With the use of two pH probes, one in the tank for neutralization and one in the discharge line for monitoring, as well as a color, touch-screen PLC controller, Smith can customize the system to Upslope’s specific needs.  The system also features a recirculation pump for mixing, two chemical pumps (one for acid and one for caustic), a tank (matched in size for the brewery’s needs) and discharge valve.

When the fluid level in the tank reaches a predetermined point (adjustable and controlled by the brewery), the recirculation pump will begin cycling the solution.  Depending on the current pH level and discharge settings, the chemical pumps will begin dispensing to the tank.  Once the pH levels in the tank fluid reach the desired limits, and held for a specified time, the discharge valve opens and the (now) neutralized solution is safe to drain into the city’s sewer system.  For insurance purposes, in the final drain line, another pH probe and valve have been installed to monitor the outgoing fluids.  In the event the pH level should ever fall out of the specified range, discharge can be stopped until the issue is addressed.  The result is both brewery and city are assured that no unacceptable solution is reaching the sewer.

Upslope is among the first breweries to embrace the change in compliance.  And additional benefits have been realized through the process, a reward of sorts.  “We’ve also seen a big reduction in process chemical use and other expenses” Smith noted.  “I can’t speak highly enough about our experience with Sean Doyle and DEWCO.”

“This was a challenging, yet very rewarding project to be involved with,” added Doyle.  “Ryan and his team were great to worth with and I’m proud that our system not only solved their compliance issues but was able to make Upslope more efficient by saving them time and money as well.”

With this revolutionary system design, and with dozens of breweries in Colorado alone, DEWCO could be in line for busier times ahead.  Which is music to the ears of Dale Olinger, DEWCO’s president.  “I could not be prouder of Sean and his collaboration with Upslope!  His efforts, once again, demonstrate DEWCO’s commitment to environmental stewardship through cost effective and sensible solutions.”

For more information on DEWCO, system design, maintenance or other inquiries, please contact the DEWCO office at 303.232.6861 or