​​Food Processing Wastewater Management Options and Required Authorizations

Food processing wastewater includes wastewater generated from beer and w​ine making, slaughtering/processing operations, and milk product manufacturing (i.e. cheese, ice cream, yogurt).

The scale of processing can vary from large-scale/commercial where food processing source materials come from offsite sources, to small-scale/on-farm food ​processing operations. On farm food processing typically uses source materials raised or grown onsite.  Small-scale/on-farm food processing includes beer, wine and other beverage production, producers who participate in MDA’s Poultry and Rabbit Program, and milk product manufacturing. 

The following summarizes management options along with authorization information.  Depending on the management option, authorization may be from Maryland Department of Environment (MDE), Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA), or the County Environmental Health Department. 

Options For Onsite Management Of Food Processing Wastewater 

Subsurface Discharge
Discharge into a subsurface disposal system will likely involve a co-review of the quality and quantity of the proposed discharge by your local county environmental health department and MDE's Wastewater Permits Program. Pretreatment of wastewater may be required prior to discharge into subsurface disposal systems, such as a conventional septic system. For more information, contact MDE at 410-537-3778 or your local approving authority.

Land Application
Large-scale/Commercial Operations: Land application approval for large-scale/commercial operations is via an MDE-issued Groundwater Discharge Permit which more information can be found here.

Small-scale/On-farm Operations: An Exemption from obtaining an MDE-issued Groundwater Discharge Permit for land applying food processing wastewater may be applied for if these requirements are met.  This Exemption is conditional with managing and land applying wastewater in compliance with Maryland Department of Agriculture's Nutrient Management Regulations (Code of Maryland Regulations 'COMAR' 15.20.04 to 15.20.08).  Installation of a holding tank is also required as part of the Exemption process.  Holding tank requirements can be found here.  An application for Exemption can be found here.  

Exemption Documents:

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