The wine industry contributes $162 billion to the US economy



FRONT PAGE
Site Search
About us |
Quiénes somos |
A propos de nous | Über uns |
Mayor Monitor
Directories
Events
Debate


Environmental effects of US wine production
Gas drilling in eastern US cities
Greenest US cities
Great Lakes initiative
Pros and cons of biofuels
Green schools
US mayors agree on Kyoto
Los Angeles goes green



City Mayors reports news from towns and cities around the world. Worldwide | Elections | North America | Latin America | Europe | Asia | Africa |


City Mayors ranks the world’s largest, best as well as richest cities and urban areas. It also ranks the cities in individual countries, and provides a list of the capital cities of some 200 sovereign countries. More


City Mayors profiles city leaders from around the world. More


City Mayors describes the history, architecture and politics of the greatest city halls in the world. More


Mayors from The Americas, Europe. Asia, Australia and Africa compete for the World Mayor Award. More


Use
Mayor Monitor to rate the performance of mayors from across the world More


In your opinion: Praise Criticise. Write


City Mayors reports political events, analyses the issues and depicts the main players. More


City Mayors describes and explains the structures and workings of local government in Europe, The Americas, Asia, Australia and Africa. More


City Mayors deals with economic and investment issues affecting towns and cities. More


City Mayors describes and explains financial issues affecting local government. More


City Mayors reports urban environmental developments and examines the challenges faced by cities worldwide. More


City Mayors reports on and discusses urban development issues in developed and developing countries. More


City Mayors reports on developments in urban society and behaviour and reviews relevant research. More


City Mayors invites readers to write about the people in their cities. More


City Mayors examines city brands and marketing. More


City Mayors lists and features urban events, conferences and conventions aimed at urban decision makers and those with an interst in cities worldwide. More



City Mayors deals with urban transport issues in developed and developing countries and features the world’s greatest metro systems. More


City Mayors examines education issues and policies affecting children and adults in urban areas. More


City Mayors investigates health issues affecting urban areas with an emphasis on health in cities in developing countries. More


City Mayors reports on how business developments impact on cities and examines cooperation between cities and the private sector. More


City Mayors examines the contributions history and culture make to urban society and environment. More


City Mayors examines the importance of urban tourism to city economies. More


City Mayors questions those who govern the world’s cities and talks to men and women who contribute to urban society and environment. More


City Mayors profiles national and international organisations representing cities as well as those dealing with urban issues. More


City Mayors reports on major national and international sporting events and their impact on cities. More


City Mayors lists cities and city organisations, profiles individual mayors and provides information on hundreds of urban events. More

Water quality issues in the US wine
industry affect small communities

By Tony Favro, USA Editor

21 February 2007: Most of the 19,000 municipalities in the United States are small rural communities. Nearly 17,000 US municipalities have populations of less than 10,000, and over 9,300 have populations of less than 1,000. Over the past two decades, a growing number of these small cities has come to depend on the wine industry to revitalize and support their local economies. Wine production, in particular, is attractive to small city mayors because it is capital- and labor-intensive, attracting investment and creating jobs in agriculture, tourism, and infrastructure.

According to a report released by the US Congress in January 2007, the US wine industry contributes more than $162 billion annually to the American economy. “Grapes, wine, and other grape products are truly an economic catalyst with tremendous growth potential in all 50 states,” said US Congressman Mike Thompson of California.

As the wine industry grows in economic importance, wineries face an increasingly stringent level of scrutiny from environmentalists and government regulators. Wastewater discharge from winery operations is becoming an area of particular concern.

Winery wastewater comes primarily from grape-crush, barrel-cleaning, and bottling operations. It generally does not contain pesticides, chemicals, or fecal matter, yet it may be harmful to water supplies and human health. The culprit is a seemingly innocuous substance: sugar. The natural sugars in the grapes – a key to making fine wine – dissolve easily in water and are measured in the wastewater as Biochemical Oxygen Demand, or BODs*.

If high levels of BODs in untreated wastewater are allowed to flow to streams, rivers, ponds, lakes and other surface water, the dissolved oxygen in the waterways may be quickly consumed. As the dissolved oxygen in the waterways is depleted, aquatic and amphibious life suffocates.

Moreover, when high levels of BODs combine with chlorinated water sources, a known cancer-causing compound (trihalomethane) forms. If, for example, high levels of BODs and chlorinated wash water are allowed to percolate to ground water levels, cancer-causing agents can contaminate the ground water and the drinking supply of rural communities.

The US Environmental Protection Agency has disallowed many old technologies for treating winery wastewater, such as septic tanks and leach fields which are prone to failure. States also regulate wineries to protect water quality.

However, current regulations generally exempt wineries that discharge less than 10,000 gallons of wastewater per day. And most wineries are small. In New York state’s wine-producing Finger Lakes region, for example, only a handful of the 80+ wineries are large, and most still rely on septic tanks.

It’s not only small wineries that may have inadequately-treated waster water. Many wineries throughout the US started small and grew as the quality and popularity of their wines increased. The amount of water used and wastewater produced grew correspondingly, so that a winery built 10 or 15 years ago with a less than 10,000 gallon per day water usage, may now be using many times more, and thus not be regulated. Also, a waste water system installed when the winery was starting may be undersized with winery expansions.

In response, federal and state governments are working with the wine industry to draft new and stricter waste water discharge requirements.

Another impetus for cleaner waste water is the phenomenon of sustainability, which is happening worldwide and is becoming a competitive issue. Consumers are demanding agricultural products, including wine, which are produced by environmentally-sound, more natural ways of farming. The market for products with sustainability certification, or “ecolabels”, is growing.

American wineries are watching trends in the wine industry very carefully. The cost of wastewater treatment systems is potentially high, especially at the smaller scale, and penalties for noncompliance – if an offender is caught -- could be severe.

The impact of winery wastewater on water quality is not well-known to the general public. Nor does it attract much attention from rural mayors who are often responsible for supplying healthy drinking water to their constituents. The exception is California, where the wine industry has been established for decades, and mayors often sit on regional water quality boards. Most American wineries, however, are relatively-new and welcome additions to a rural economy. Local residents and local elected officials generally do not look beyond the potential economic benefits.

The wine industry has diversified rural economies in the US and helped them cope with job loss due to globalization. Like all economic activities, the benefits of the wine industry may create environmental impacts that need appropriate oversight, planning, and management at the local level.

*
Information on BODs is primarily from Glenn Wensloff in Wine & Vines.


Wine production in upstate New York


On other pages
Schools could save money and raise educational standards by going green
US cities signed up for climate change action, already having a robust and challenging relationship with school district boards in their areas, will be interested in the late 2006 report on the costs and impact on educational performance of sustainable buildings.

Issued at the US Green Building Council conference in Denver in November the report, 'Greening America's Schools Costs and Benefits' was produced by Capital E for the USGBC and other health, teaching and design bodies.

The report assesses 30 schools in 10 different states built to sustainable building standards between 2002 and 2006. Report author Gregory Kats says “ We worked with the architects of the 30 schemes to assess how much it would have cost to build them to the minimum code standard. The premium was on average around $3 a sq ft.”

“With electricity and gas consumption savings at 33 per cent that equates to just four years to recover the premium solely on energy costs, “ he said.

Factor in reduced water and waste treatment costs and the actual payback period would be less. And the evidence of educational and health benefits from the 30 schools and other data is most compelling.

Kats says “we calculate that typically there will be $70 a sq ft in benefits over 20 years.” Those include a large amount projected from increased earnings by former students but even when that is omitted the analysis suggests net financial benefits of around $23 a sqft Since the report does not attempt to quantify operations and maintenance cost reductions over the 20 years that may rise to closer to $30 a sqft in some of the schools. More