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Anchor Brewing seeing benefit of policies reducing water waste during drought

Anchor Brewing in San Francisco installs new water-saving technology
Anchor Brewing in San Francisco installs new water-saving technology 02:57

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – A San Francisco brewery that was founded in 1896 took an innovative step last year to reduce water waste during the drought, and it is starting to pay off.

Anchor Brewing water conservation
Anchor Brewing water conservation CBS

"Everybody needs to be doing something. We're just proud to be a part of that and making a large impact," said Dane Volek, the brewmaster of the Anchor Brewing Company.

Through a partnership with the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission and Cambrian, Anchor Brewing installed a water reuse system on its property. The system allows the brewery to treat its process water, which is water used during the brewing process, so it can be reused for other parts of the operation outside of brewing the beer itself.

"This is strictly for cleaning, cooling towers, things where it's an easy application of using water that we don't need to be drinking quality water," Volek said. "There's no direct contact with the beer or any of the things that are going to become beer."

According to the SFPUC, Anchor Brewing can save up to 20 million gallons of water a year with this system. That's equivalent to 31 Olympic-sized swimming pools, or the same amount of water used annually by 1,300 San Francisco residents, says Paula Kehoe, the SFPUC's director of water resources.

"We're entering into the fourth year of the drought, so obviously, having everyone use water as efficiently as possible is as important as ever," she said. "Projects such as the Anchor Brewery project help us store and stretch our drinking water supplies."

Andrew Posner, Cambrian's director of field operations, says the company has installed similar systems at a few breweries and wineries throughout the region, but this is the first one in San Francisco.

"Breweries traditionally utilize a lot of fresh water to make beer. The average in the industry is one gallon of beer takes anywhere from five to seven gallons of fresh water to make the product," he said. "It's really important for all of us to do our part in cutting back our water usage."

A year into the program, Anchor Brewing is using less fresh water, says Volek.

"We have reduced our water usage. It's been pretty solid – about 10%," he said.

He says there's only upside to this way of saving.

"It allows us to make a whole lot more beer with a whole lot less water," he said.

He hopes other breweries will learn to consider conservation as a key ingredient of their craft.

"It's a great mindset to be in, and a great project to be a part of," Volek said. "We hope to be just the start of this for many more breweries and many more municipalities."

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