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Concerns Over Sewer Levels
News 13 has obtained a letter revealing Oskar Blues new Brewery plant in Brevard owes $33,375 in unpaid fees for generating wastewater that could cause city pipes to fail. The fees are related to elevated water and sewage data figures from testing done over a six month period from January 2, 2013 to July 1, 2013.
"We summarized the findings of the six-month monitoring period and showed that pre-treatment is required in this case," said Jay Johnston, Utility and Wastewater plant director for the City of Brevard. "We issued a request for them to report back to us by September 30th."
The letter to Oskar Blues from the City of Brevard obtained by News 13 was mailed to Neal Price at Oskar Blues Brewery in Brevard over a month ago. The letter is dated August 2, 2013. A Brewery spokesperson told News 13, Price was on paternity leave but head brewer for the plant, Noah Tuttle, said he was not aware of any deadline to bring the plant into compliance for wastewater concerns.
"It's the first of hearing of any deadline," said Tuttle. Tuttle also disputed the wastewater tests done by city officials. "We have our own equipment that monitors what goes down the drain and our numbers did not match up," said Tuttle.
But Tuttle said he doesn't know of any official tests done by plant managers that have figures to challenge what city officials say is coming from wastewater released by the plant.
As part of the initial agreement for a zoning permit, the brewery was given a six-month grace period to get a feel for the kind of levels the plant's wastewater would release into city sewers. The current elevated levels for what's called "high strength waste" are typical of a beer plant, said Johnston. But if the plant were to have to pay for elevated levels for those six months Johnston said the plant's bill would have been over $60,000.
"When we receive higher strength wastewater we have to feed the treatment units with more oxygen," said Johnston. "So our blower runs more, we have a higher energy bill, and we produce more solid residuals that we have to treat in our belt press."
Johnston, would not say when the city might start assessing the plant associated wastewater fees but said plant operators must submit some type of remediation plan to the city by September 30th. He said plant managers are well aware of city concerns and met with Brevard officials August fifth, three days after the dated letter.
Johnston told News 13, Oskar Blues wasn't delinquent on the $33,375 owed impact fees but must begin making payments in October.
The letter also says the wastewater temperature from the Brevard brewery is consistently exceeding 104 degrees and, at times, up to 140 degrees fahrenheit, which could cause city pipe failure costing close to $20,000.
The brewery opened in Brevard in December. Oskar Blues headquarters are based in Colorado. A company spokesperson said the Brevard plant has distributed 1.2 million cans of beer to 15 states up and down the East Coast.
Johnston said Brevard's wastewater plant had received six permit violations in April, May and June but was back in compliance in July. Johnston also said he doesn't know if the Oskar Blues elevated sewage water numbers are connected to the Brevard wastewater plant's elevated numbers since there was another issue of plant maintenance over the summer. But Johnston said the brewery's numbers continued to be cause for concern as they remained consistent into July and August, and that it was possible wastewater coming from the plant was a factor in plant water violations over the summer. He said the Brevard plant hasn't had any kind of permit violations since 1997*.
*Jay Johnston corrected that information Wednesday to say that they have had other violations, mostly characterized as minor, including a BOD violation in 2006.
by Kimberly King
Follow Kim on Twitter @KimKing Reports
Click here to read the letter from the City of Brevard.