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Big Sky Brewing Buys Water Restoration Certificates

Big Sky Brewing has signed a three-year contract to purchase Water Restoration Certificates (WRC) from Bonneville Environmental Foundation (BEF) to help restore water flow in Prickly Pear Creek, a tributary of the Missouri River located near Helena, Montana.

Montana’s largest brewer also plans to update the packaging of its Montana Trout Slayer Ale, with the goal of educating customers on the brewing industry’s impact on water use and the WRC program. The new packaging will be on the shelves in fall of 2010.

BEF launched the water stewardship program last year to enable businesses to take responsibility for water consumption by helping restore water flow to critically de-watered creeks and rivers.

BEF says its Water Restoration Certificate (WRC) program is the first and only certified, national flow restoration program that offers certificates that are standardized, inventoried and ready for purchase. Every WRC represents 1,000 gallons of water that is restored to dewatered streams.

Big Sky Brewing Company’s purchase will result in more than 10 million gallons of water restored to the Prickly Pear Creek over the next three years. BEF is collaborating with the Clark Fork Coalition, which facilitates negotiations with local water rights holders and ensures compliance.

To ensure that water returned to the environment is never double-counted, WRCs are individually numbered and tracked by the Markit Environmental Registry, a global provider of registries for ecosystem markets.

BEF also sells renewable energy certificates. In September last year, The Center for Resource Solutions (CRS) recognized BEF as a Green Power Market Development award winner.

Big Sky also has implemented several environmental measures over the years. The brewer was the first to use aluminum bottles in North and South America. These containers enable more efficient shipping of product due to the lighter weight, enabling 34 percent more product to be shipped per load. In addition, the brewer has implemented systems that have reduced its energy use by 80 percent, water use by 20 percent and use of natural gas by 40 percent.

Big Sky also plans to produce a series of digital shorts that tell the story of Montana’s de-watered streams, which will be available later this year.

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