The city of Burlington, Vermont, released 1.8 million gallons of partially treated wastewater into Lake Champlain earlier this month, forcing the closure of city beaches – and state officials said part of the problem was wastewater from breweries and food producers. The cumulative effect of these industries in the area is a challenge for Burlington, and food and beverage companies need to improve their wastewater management practices, according to the city’s Department of Public Works.
The city is now investigating a more recent discharge of stormwater and wastewater after intense storms last week, writes local newspaper The Recorder.
Burlington has about six breweries, and the volume of beer they produce is increasing. Brewery waste includes yeast, spent grains and hops, and managing waste is expensive and challenging, local breweries say. Managing water and wastewater, too, is particularly challenging for breweries, considering that beer is made up of 90% to 95% water.
Breweries Face Water Scarcity Issues
Water scarcity, severe water stress, stringent regulations to control pollution in water bodies, and aging city infrastructures are all issues that can lead to utility price jumps which are increasingly affecting businesses in the industrial and commercial arenas. Facing such issues, breweries are increasingly focusing on sustainability and water management issues.
Burlington-based Magic Hat Brewing Company has a digester that converts grain and wastewater into energy, for example.
Last year, beer brewer Carlsberg Group set a goal of reducing water usage at its breweries by 50% by 2030. Reaching the goal will require “technological breakthroughs at brewery level” as well as collaborations with partners in high-risk catchment areas to ensure long-term water availability, said Jochem Verberne, global partnership director at WWF International, which conducted a water analysis for Carlsberg.
Ballast Point Brewing Co. recently completed its first two batches of beer made with water extracted literally from thin air. The company used water produced from Ambient Water’s AW400 water generator, which extracts moisture from San Diego’s coastal fog and produces hundreds of gallons of potable water per day.
And Lagunitas Brewing Company cut its water footprint by 40% after installing Cambrian Innovation’s EcoVolt Membrane Bioreactor (MBR), a polishing process that removes more than 99% of pollutants and solids, enabling water reuse on site.