Arizona breweries to make beer with treated wastewater

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Local Brewery (Source: AP Images) Local Brewery (Source: AP Images)

As part of what is being called the AZ Pure Water Brew Challenge, more than 30 Arizona breweries have agreed to make beer this summer with water from a portable system that treats wastewater.

The water system, which is being hauled around the state by a semi-truck, made a stop July 3 at Rio de Flag Wastewater Treatment Plant in Flagstaff.

It was the first time the system was being used to treat water from a city with breweries participating in the challenge, the Arizona Daily Sun reported.

"For Flagstaff it gives us one more tool in our toolbox for future water supplies should the community elect to go that route," said Brad Hill, utilities director with the city.

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Water microbiologist Channah Rock, who is leading public outreach for the brewing challenge, says the truck's statewide tour marks the first time wastewater is being treated for reuse as drinking water in the state of Arizona.

The AZ Pure Water Brew Challenge comes at a time when state environmental regulators are nearing completion of interim rules that will allow utilities to treat reclaimed wastewater for reuse as drinking water. A draft of the rule came out last week.

Inside the shipping container, treated wastewater in Flagstaff went through several steps including ultra-filtration to block bacteria and other small organisms; reverse osmosis to dissolve things like salts, minerals and pharmaceuticals; and ultraviolet disinfection with advanced oxidation to break down the DNA of bacteria and viruses.

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The final product will be sent through a barrage of water quality tests, with results expected in a few weeks, Hill said.

The initial run-through of the advanced treatment process will be a big step for Flagstaff's utilities department as it evaluates the potable reuse of treated wastewater as part of the city's long-term water supply plan.

The Pure Water Brew truck will return to Flagstaff in August when the tests are done. It will again run reclaimed wastewater through its system and then truck it to four breweries, which will use it to make beer specifically for the challenge.

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