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Water and Wastewater: Treatment/Volume Reduction Manual

Craft brewers are innovative leaders in the beverage sector and take pride in developing new products and processes that give both brewery employees and customers options for sustainable living. Despite significant improvement over the last 20 years, water consumption and wastewater disposal remain environmental and economic hurdles that directly affect breweries and the brewing process.

It is no surprise that many breweries have found innovative solutions for water and wastewater management. These solutions go beyond facility water conservation programs to collaborative, sustainable solutions for the community and for the environment.

The abundance of clean, affordable water in the United States has created complacency among users and the public. Businesses, municipalities and academia all agree that the current usage rate with future population growth may create an unsustainable pattern.

Given these pressing concerns, brewers need to be mindful of the future risks of cost and supply, which are key staples of a growing business. While the average water use ratio for a brewery is around seven barrels of water to one, many craft brewers are world leaders with ratios below three to one.

Although the payback for reducing water usage is typically longer than recommended using standard financial calculators, the long-term sustainability and growth of a business may depend on the ability to efficiently use water resources. The best practices in this manual will provide tools needed to work towards optimal efficiency, as well as ease potential future risks and enhance community value.


The Manual
This water and wastewater sustainability manual is a consolidated resource for effective water and wastewater management solutions in the craft brewers segment. Solutions outlined can apply to all breweries, regardless of location and operational size. It will provide guidance for small brewers that are just beginning to explore water and wastewater reduction programs, as well as new ideas for brewers that are looking to improve a well-established program or build improved efficiency into expansions or new facilities. Brewers will also find tools they can easily incorporate to integrate water use reduction and conservation measures into everyday operations and to identify on-site wastewater treatment opportunities.


The information presented is a pathway to effective and sustainable water and wastewater management from start to finish. This information is organized into five sections:


  1. Segment Profile: A discussion of water usage and wastewater effluent trends, including where to find information on regulatory drivers, examples of non-regulatory drivers and risks and opportunities for cost savings.
  2. Data Management: A guide to identifying the components of water and wastewater information, establishing key performance indicators and goals, managing water and wastewater data and benchmarking progress toward goals.
  3. Best Practices: Guidance on best practices to reduce water usage and wastewater generation with a focus on opportunities in the brewing process, including packaging, warehousing, utilities and food service/events.
  4. Onsite Wastewater Treatment: An overview of drivers for on-site wastewater treatment and example technologies.
  5. Case studies: Selected brewery examples which provide more detail of water and wastewater reduction programs.


In addition, there are checklists, resource lists and other visual tools throughout the manual and in Appendix A (also located in the Tool Box on the right side of this web page), to help breweries make informed decisions about water usage and wastewater reduction opportunities.




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