Water Management: What is it?

What does good water management mean for a craft brewer?

It means understanding the “Ins, the Outs and the In-Betweens” of water management.

The “Ins”

The volume of water entering the brewery to make beer, AND wash and clean the equipment and floors.

The “Outs”

The wastewater – its volume and strength. Wastewater is clean water with all the “stuff” in it from the brewery operation – ingredients, beer, and by-products such as spent grain and excess yeast.

The “In-Betweens”

The various spots within the operations – like the brewhouse, the fermenter, and the packaging lines – where water is used and stuff enters the wastewater.

Why Does it Matter?

It comes down to two things: Increasing Profits and Being a Good Neighbour

Increase Profits

Reduce Water Management Costs

A craft brewery can pay for water up to three times:

  1. On the way IN – for the costs of fresh water volume entering the brewery.
  2. On the way OUT – for the costs of wastewater volume leaving the brewery.
  3. On the way OUT again – for possible extra costs or “surcharges” for over-strength wastewater.

Reduce Beer Product Losses

A craft brewery can lose up to 10% of the beer product to the drains. This “beer loss” impacts the bottom-line twice:

  1. Lost revenue
  2. Increased cost from over-strength wastewater surcharges

Potential Brewery Surcharges

Potential Brewery Surcharges

Don’t let Growing Production Translate into Growing Surcharges

To illustrate, have a look at the potential wastewater surcharges graph. Brewery C is a heavy water user who is also generating a lot of BOD in their wastewater. What does this mean? At 20,000 hL production, they could be facing a $100,000 annual surcharge.

Even moderate reductions (by Brewery B) in water use and wastewater over-strength can mean significant cost reductions in surcharges. A focus on efficient water management and keeping stuff out of the drain (by Brewery A), reduces the surcharge risk to almost nothing.

Community Relations

Being a Good Neighbour

A growing craft brewery can unknowingly place a strain on their local community’s wastewater treatment system.

This can become even a bigger problem if brewery is located in a small town with limited infrastructure.

Population Equivalent

Community Impact

Get Ahead of the Curve

Craft breweries can benefit from taking a proactive approach to water management.

Why? Starting early allows a brewery to start thinking about water and integrating water management practices into their operations and business strategy.

To get started, craft brewers can focus on “hotspots” and prioritize actions to: