The gift of beer keeps on giving.
In the far north of Montana near the Canadian border, in the small town of Havre, water treatment plant Manager Drue Newfield had an idea. What if the plant treated the water with the used barley from a local brew pub, Triple Dog Brewing?
The brewery waste is rich in yeast, hops and sugar,which creates microbes that remove nitrogen and phosphorus from wastewater. If the plant could use the waste, which the brewery disposed of anyway, then the plant could save on additives and extend the current life of the plant, avoiding costly improvements.
When Newfield approached Triple Dog Brewery owner Michael Garrity about it, Garrity said:
“With my knowledge of brewing and fermentation, I said ‘Why aren’t we doing this? This sounds amazing.'”
It took two years of trial and error to find the right time in the water treatment process to add the brewery waste and the right amount, but they figured it out.
When they found the right formula, it worked like a charm, saving the city at least $16,000 per year in additive alum and allowing them to put off upgrades that could cost millions of dollars.
The city of Bozeman, Montana tried the same thing. Officials found that it worked, but the cost of transporting the brewery waste ate up the savings. Still they’re intrigued by the notion of using waste from one process to naturally improve another.
The EPA gave Havre, Montana an honorable mention for their innovation, and Newfield has recieved calls from cities as far away as Boston asking about the process.
It just proves the point that beer makes everything better, even waste.