Maple Production Wastewater Management: Help Is On The Way
By Caroline Cyr, QMSP
Each spring, the sap flows from our magnificent maple trees and, over the course of some 20 days, our producers collect millions of litres of it. As it takes an average of 40 litres of sap to produce one litre of maple syrup, the finished product accounts for about 2.5% of the harvest volume. The vast bulk evaporates into the air… or is flushed away.
On December 31, 2020, the provincial government’s new environmental protection regulations came into effect: the Règlement sur l’encadrement d’activités en fonction de leur impact sur l’environnement (REAFIE). Maple producers have had to take note of its restrictions on disposal of the wastewater created (directly and indirectly) in the processing of sap into maple syrup.
The Value of Research
Maple producers are not left on their own to figure out how to adjust to the new protocols. In 2020, MAPAQ mandated a team of scientists to provide, by 2023, a guide to best practices in maple production wastewater management.
“The overall goal is to find ways for producers to adopt technologies or practices that will better manage their wastewater,” explains Stéphane Godbout, a researcher at Institut de recherche et de développement en agroenvironnement (IRDA).
A 22-year veteran of the non-profit agri-environmental R&D agency, Godbout heads up this research project, which enters its second phase this spring with sampling and analysis at a dozen maple operations. “We’re trying to identify the core issues: is it the volume of water to be managed, pH correction, or is it in the cleaning of membranes? We’re trying to pinpoint the hot spots.”
In Search of Functional Solutions
The research team is gathering data to answer those questions and produce solutions for maple producers by next year. IRDA is getting valuable help and expertise from Centre ACER from start to finish: finding the enterprises from which to draw data, lending access to their own research facilities, formulating manual pH correction and chemical handling forms, all the way to information transfer once the process is complete. Centre ACER, in fact, will be joined by MAPAQ and other support groups in getting the information and tools into the hands of maple producers, after training from Stéphane Godbout and his team. “Our guide will enable producers to know and do exactly what they need to for their type of operation. That’s our straightforward goal: to provide intelligent solutions that producers can afford.”
Published in InfoSirop Magazine, Spring 2022