We propose a benchmarking model for winery wastewater treatment systems and use it to quantitatively compare the performance of Chilean wine-making operations. The benchmarking model integrates three components: the influent characteristics, the wastewater treatment alternatives, and the location constraints. Four performance levels may be defined when plotting the available data of the wine production versus the ratio of wastewater to wine, for the French, US, and Chilean industries. Knowing where a certain system lies in this diagram helps to quantify the gap between the current and a target performance, and to set performance goals for planned expansions. The analysis of construction and operating costs of treatment systems currently in operation in Chile shows that similar compliance levels can be achieved at remarkably different costs. A steep decrease in the unitary cost is observed as wastewater flow increases; yet, the treatment alternative for achieving that cost may change. Further selection is obtained when location constraints are considered, including stringent discharge standards and proximity to urban settlements. The application of this simple benchmark model to three Chilean winery facilities shows how it produces meaningful quantitative and qualitative results. However, there is still ample room to improve this benchmarking model by considering additional complexity, including technical detail in the treatment options and costs related to technology conversion.

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