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RMW January 2017

ROCKY MOUNTAIN WATER JANUARY 2017 | 21 HOT TOPICS A Legitimate Reason to Have a Beer Microbrews give communities a taste of high-purity potable reuse By Rick Warner and Barry Liner BEER IS A PRODUCT THAT EVERYBODY LIKES TO talk about. The explosion of microbreweries around the United States gave Clean Water Services (Portland, Ore.) an idea for a program to start conversations about the reusable nature of all water. The utility began partnering with Oregon home brewers in 2014 to brew beer from reclaimed water to demonstrate that water should be judged by its qual-ity, not its history. Sustainable beer smackdown The utility produced a batch of high-purity water that far exceeds safe drinking water standards and provided it to local home brewers. The beers, using the Pure Water Brew brand, were featured at WEFTEC 2014 and WEFTEC 2015 as part of the Sustainable Beer Smackdown. Each successive year, the Smackdown has gained new contenders. At the WEFTEC 2016 Innovation Pavilion in September, Florida’s Hillsborough County introduced its New Water Brew, joining Clean Water Services and the Activated Sludge beers from the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District and The Water Council (Milwaukee, Wis.). In addition, CDM Smith (Boston, Mass.), in partnership with the Water Replenishment District of Southern California, served up an India pale ale called the FAT Californian, named after the full advanced treatment (FAT) model of treatment for potable reuse applications. This year, the Reuse Beer Smackdown dovetailed nicely with the release of the WEF Water Reuse Roadmap, a collaborative effort by WateReuse and Water Environment & Reuse Foundation (both of Alexandria, Va.), and the National Water Research Institute (Fountain Valley, Calif.). Such efforts serve to engage industry professionals, public leaders, and imbibers everywhere in this conversation about clean water, not only for its role in health, but also in supporting big and small businesses. The importance of legitimacy in reuse Although the beer events are fun and engaging, the most impor-tant aspect of these efforts is the focus on creating an authentic conversation with the larger community about water quality. These conversations are the cornerstones of a sociological con-cept known as “legitimacy.” Legitimacy is more important as communities consider reuse projects, particularly potable water reuse. Reuse projects have often been met with public opposition, despite having proven that the technology and water quality meet or exceed drink-ing water standards. Oftentimes, technical professionals such as engineers and scientists believe the public will accept new technologies when it is provided with information through marketing and public education. Such outreach efforts need be authentic to achieve public support. Three levels of legitimacy need to be addressed to have a suc-cessful project. Local beers created by utilities and microbreweries were showcased at WEFTEC 2016. photo credit: Water Environment Federation.


RMW January 2017
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