Drink Up: As Consumers Embrace Wastewater Beer, A Solution To Drought Is Emerging

One of the world’s favorite beverages could be the key to popularizing an effective, yet often misunderstood, wastewater treatment practice and better conserve previous drinking resources.

“Utilities have spent decades trying to convince U.S. cities and towns that drinking recycled water is safe, but proposals for so-called ‘toilet-to-tap’ systems have stirred up resistance and backlash,” BNN Bloomberg reported. “In response, advocates are increasingly turning to beer as a go-to strategy for helping consumers overcome the yuck factor. And as more cities find themselves squeezed between growing populations and drought-stressed water supplies — making potable reuse a more attractive, if not inescapable option — wastewater beers are likely to proliferate in the years ahead.”

Recycled wastewater, also known as direct potable reuse, is a conservation measure that has been championed by wastewater professionals for years and there is reason to believe that consumers are overcoming the stigmas that have long been associated with the practice. Potable reuse is being embraced by cities across the country, including in drought-stricken Arizona and Colorado.

And for whatever reason, wastewater professionals have noticed that beer made with recycled wastewater seems more palatable to consumers than its main ingredient alone.

“If you give somebody a glass of water and tell them that it’s been purified from wastewater, more than likely one person out of two will not drink it,” Guillaume Clairet, the chief operating officer of a water technology company, told BNN Bloomberg. “But if you convert that same water to beer, then all of a sudden nine out of 10 will.”

In fact, wastewater beer is so promising that breweries aren’t the only ones looking to capitalize. Recently, a treatment-focused firm went ahead and brewed its own batch in an attempt to demonstrate the power of wastewater recycling.

“A water recycling company in the U.S., to drive home the message of water sustainability, brewed beer recycling wastewater from an apartment building,” per The Week. “The firm said globally, people in buildings consume 14% of the planet’s potable water resources, with little reused. Experts believe onsite water reuse systems could become a useful tool to make cities more sustainable.”

If beer proves to be the drink that gets more consumers to try recycled wastewater for themselves and overcome their biases about the practice in the process, then treatment professionals are likely to have a fitting response: Cheers to that.

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