Bill Gates isn't the only one drinking 'poop water.' Clean Water Services of Hillsboro, Oregon, has such an advanced sewage treatment process that they felt it was a shame to dump all that drinking water. Rather than waste it, they decided to ask the Oregon Health Authority for permission to donate the water to the Oregon Brew Crew for them to make small batches of special 'sewer' beer to be served at events. So far the Oregon Health Authority has approved the company's request for the beer project. But the Oregon Environmental Quality Commission will also have to sign off on it too (will the pioneering spirit of beermakers triumph over cautious government officials? stay tuned!).
If you want to do your part, there's going to be a public hearing on the topic of "limited drinkable reuse of recycled water" in Portland on February 12.
The true objective isn't so much about beer as it is about water, and helping people rethink their views on so-called wastewater. "What we're really trying to do here is start a conversation about the nature of water, and there's no better way to start a conversation than over a beer," said Clean Water Services spokesman Mark Jockers.As long as the water tests as safe, I say "why not?". After all, what water isn't ultimately recycled waste water in some way or other?
In the photo above you can see the Clean Water Services high-purity water system. It uses "ultra-filtration, which filters the water through very small pores; reverse osmosis, which passes the water through a membrane that blocks chemicals from passing through; and enhanced oxidation, which uses ultra-violet light and an oxidizing chemical to break down contaminants." Sounds even better than Bill Gates' poop-powered filtration system (though obviously it's not build to be operated in the same context).
Last fall, 16 varieties of beers were actually brewed from 1,000 gallons of water from the Tualatin River that Clean Water Services purified as a kind of pilot project for their most ambitious aim. Some craft brewers actually like this purified water because it's more of a blank slate, to which various minerals can be added; it's much harder to remove minerals from "hard" water (which reminds me of the story about the scientist who drank water that had been trapped in an underground cave for over a billion years, ultimately concluding: "It tastes terrible").