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Alberta, Canada, produces first beer made with treated wastewater

  • Alberta, Canada, produces first beer made with treated wastewater
  • Partners University of Calgary, Xylem and Village Brewery champion water reuse, demonstrate that wastewater is part of a sustainable future. 

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University of Calgary
The University of Calgary is expected to achieve focused outcomes that support and encourage engagement, economic, social, and cultural prosperity, and are valuable to all Albertans.

University of Calgary’s Advancing Canadian Water Assets (ACWA) has partnered with Village Brewery and Xylem Inc. to produce Alberta’s first beer made with reused water, demonstrating how treated wastewater can help address water scarcity. The beer is on sale now at Village Brewery, and will be celebrated at a virtual launch event on Aug. 22. Register now.

Village Brewery has brewed a limited batch of Village Blonde ale, using water provided by ACWA. But not just any water — this water started as wastewater.

“There’s a mental hurdle to get over of how inherently gross this could be,” says Jeremy McLaughlin, head brewer at Village Brewery. “But we know that this water is safe, we know that this beer is safe, and we stand by our process.”

This beer shows that water reuse can be a safe and important part of our sustainable future,” says Christine O’Grady, program co-ordinator at ACWA. “Wastewater can be treated using advanced treatment technology, making it into a reliable and safe water supply for many uses.”

Alberta Health Services’ Safe Healthy Environments (AHS-SHE) provided guidance to the team as it created a water safety plan for the project. AHS-SHE supports safe and healthy communities, as set out under the Public Health Act and related legislation.

Before being sent to the brewery, the water was treated at ACWA using tertiary treatment technologies including advanced oxidation and nano-filtration. It was then tested to demonstrate that it met rigorous standards outlined by AHS-SHE for water reuse, including pathogen reduction requirements, as well as Canadian Drinking Water Guidelines.

“AHS was happy to be part of this project to help develop a water safety plan and ensure the water met drinking water standards,” said Jessica Popadynetz, AHS public health inspector. “With the right measures in place alternative water sources, such as wastewater, greywater, rooftop collected rainwater, and stormwater, can be made safe for many potable and non-potable end uses.”

Partners share vision of sustainable future

The three partners were brought together by their shared vision to help grow stronger, more resilient communities, and the importance of water to their organizations.  

“Village is always interested in doing new projects with new people, and the ACWA collaboration was a natural fit,” says McLaughlin. “It was an interesting challenge.”

Xylem is an industry leader in potable reuse, and has been part of similar projects in Europe and the U.S. 

“Water scarcity continues to be a global challenge as populations keep growing,” says Albert Cho, vice-president and general manager of Xylem Inc. “Innovation and re-use are essential parts of the solution. Xylem is proud to partner with Advancing Canadian Wastewater Assets and Village Brewery in Calgary to demonstrate how we can all make this happen, together. And we’re excited to try the beer!”

Initially, the beer was set to launch on UN World Water Day, an annual global day of action on March 22. COVID-19 stopped those plans, but combating water scarcity and the UN’s water-focused Sustainable Development Goals are still an important touch point for the project.

“Proper stewardship of water resources is critical to the planet’s sustainability, and water reuse can reduce the amount of freshwater required by some applications and decrease diversion from sensitive ecosystems,” says O’Grady. “ACWA is proud to lead by example and champion water reuse with our partners in this project.”

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