This Water Treatment Company is so Confident in Their Process, They’ve Started Brewing Beer out of Sewage

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In December, I brought you the Poo Bus. Today, my friends, I bring you Poo Beer!

Well, not really… but close enough.

The people of Oregon – the state known for putting birds on things and being so hipster it hurts – now wants to take their craft beer revolution and make it more eco-friendly – by brewing beer from wastewater.

Yes, you read that right.

Just when we thought craft beer, with its quirky names and funny little covers, couldn’t get any zanier, it did.

Hold on to your seats! (TOILET seats, that is!)


The High-Purity Treatment System

According to Clean Water Services of Hillsboro, OR they have an extremely advanced treatment process that can turn sewage into drinking water, a claim they want to show off using beer as their medium.

The company runs four wastewater treatment plants in the Portland metro area and believe that the stunt will show off its “high-purity” system by turning recycled wastewater into beer.

The treatment process has three different methods:

  1. Ultra-filtration Filtering the water through very small pores.
  2. Reverse osmosis Where the water is sent through a membrane that blocks chemicals from passing through.
  3. Enhanced oxidation Using an oxidizing chemical and ultra-violet light to break down contaminants.

Clean Water Services spokesman Mark Jockers says of the project:

“What we’re really trying to do here is start a conversation about the nature of water, and there’s no better way to start a conversation than over a beer. When people think about it enough it makes sense, although the initial knee-jerk reaction might be ‘yuck.’ We want to start having this conversation now before we get into the drought situation that California and Texas and Australia have gotten into, so we can get the rules and safeguards in place that will allow greater use of this resource.”

Jockers says that the company isn’t planning to supply the world with its own unique beer, but instead use the demonstration to show that it’s possible to treat wastewater to very high standards.

Photo via Alessandro Caproni
Photo via Alessandro Caproni

However, the project has yet to get permission from the state.

You see, even though water shortages have forced other communities to get comfortable with drinking recycled water, the state of Oregon doesn’t technically allow anyone to drink wastewater. And while the Oregon Health Authority has approved the company’s request, the Oregon Environmental Quality Commission has yet to sign off on it.

But we don’t have long to wait.

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality will be holding a public hearing on the matter on February 12. If approved, Oregon will officially become the Poo Beer State and we’ll all drink wastewater and be merry about it.

Not really.

Luckily, it’s not quite that easy to get permission to feed people wastewater. Clean Water Services will still need additional state approvals for an amended Recycled Water Reuse Plan before the – hopefully delicious and non-toxic – beer is cleared for human consumption.

The stunt, while not completely new, is the first of its scale. A Wisconsin home brewer and wastewater engineer, Theera Ratarasarn, beat them to the mark with his “Activated Sludge Wheat Ale” made from “purified Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District wastewater plant effluent.”

In the end, Jockers says that the idea is ultimately to expand the use of recycled water in Oregon, but also to change the way people think about wastewater. Logic that I don’t think many of us can fault. Here’s hoping that our stomachs will agree.

What do you think? Would you drink beer made from wastewater?

  • Sarah Burke

    Sarah is a graduate of the University of College Dublin. After receiving her MA in Gender, Sexuality and Culture, she taught High-school English and History for three years before moving to Vancouver to pursue a career in writing. In her spare time, Sarah likes to write poetry, go to music festivals and drink wine. Her favorite food is the burrito. She is an avid reader of fantasy novels, an active participant in feminist circles, and will always have an adventure planned in the foreseeable future. Interesting fact: Sarah is fluent in Irish (Gaeilge).

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