Restaurant News

Phoenix Brewers Are Going to Use Reclaimed Wastewater to Make Beer. Really.

Special delivery of reclaimed wastewater coming to a brewer near you.
Special delivery of reclaimed wastewater coming to a brewer near you. Pima County

Sometimes, you don't really want to know how the sausage is made.

Or, in this case, the beer.

We're going to take a hard pass on an invitation extended by the city of Phoenix to observe the "AZ Pure Water Brew Truck" in action on Tuesday as the city treats reclaimed wastewater and then heads out to make some special deliveries.

The idea, as explained in a media release from city wastewater treatment officials, is to "fight the wastewater taboo" by inviting local brewers to brew beer using reclaimed wastewater. There's even going to be a contest to see who can brew the best-tasting beer.

Participating brewers, according to the city, include OHSO, Two Brothers Tap House & Brewery, Mother Bunch Brewing, Goldwater Brewing Co., McFate Brewing Company, and more. There will be a competition at the National WaterReuse Symposium in September to see whose beer is the best.

"The AZ Pure Water Brew Challenge is a statewide campaign was created to better inform Arizonans about water issues, water reuse, and technologies currently available to purify recycled wastewater producing safe, high-quality drinking water," according to the city's release.

From an FAQ sheet for reporters:

The water treatment process we selected is a tried-and-true proven process routinely used to produce millions of gallons of purified water each day throughout the world. After purification with UF/RO, water is exposed to high-intensity UV light and hydrogen peroxide to disinfect the water and destroy remaining organic compounds. The water that emerges is so pure that minerals must be added for stabilization and pH adjustment. All of this results in a safe, reliable, and sustainable water supply. Each sample batch will be confirmed to ensure the purified water meets all federal and state safe drinking water standards.

... Pharmaceuticals and personal care products are monitored throughout the water purification process. It has been consistently demonstrated that reverse osmosis and advanced oxidation processes are very effective at removing pharmaceuticals and personal care products.

Pima County, Tucson Water, and the University of Arizona will ensure the water has been tested for all regulated drinking water contaminants as well as unregulated contaminants commonly found in treated wastewater. All test results must be below EPA Health Reference levels or at non-detection levels before it will qualify as Pure Water and be available for drinking purposes.

It's a lovely sentiment, but not a particularly appetizing one. If you need us tomorrow morning, we'll be at the bar — trying to forget we ever read about this.
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Amy Silverman is a two-time winner of the Arizona Press Club’s Journalist of the Year award. Her work has appeared on the radio show This American Life and in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Lenny Letter, and Brain, Child. She’s the co-curator of the live reading series Bar Flies, and a commentator for KJZZ, the NPR affiliate in Phoenix. Silverman is the author of the book My Heart Can’t Even Believe It: A Story of Science, Love, and Down Syndrome (Woodbine House 2016). Follow her on Instagram (@amysilverman), Twitter (@amysilvermanaz), and at