Bear Republic Brewing Company Turns Wastewater Into Power and Clean Water

(3BL/JustMeans) - Bear Republic Brewing Company, Inc. and Cambrian Innovation, a water and bioenergy technology provider, unveiled an EcoVolt water treatment system at Bear Republic’s brewery in Cloverdale, California. The EcoVolt system uses bioelectric technology to treat wastewater and generate biogas. Developed over the past five years with grants from the National Science Foundation, the typical EcoVolt installation can create 30 to 200 kilowatts of power. Bear Republic is the first brewery to buy the EcoVolt system which will be used to generate clean water and energy, plus reduce water treatment costs and its carbon footprint. 
EcoVolt is the first of its kind industrial-scale wastewater treatment system and is expected to generate an annual return on investment of over 25 percent. It will reduce operational costs by hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. The brewery will be able to generate enough clean heat and electricity to reduce over 50 percent of the site’s baseload electricity use. The wastewater treatment system will also supply over 10 percent of the brewery’s water needs with recycled water. Breweries need vast amounts of water, needing up to 10 times the amount of water for the amount of beer produced. Bear Republic has achieved a 3.5 to 1 ratio and expects to do even better with EcoVolt. 
“Sustainable production practices have been a cornerstone of Bear Republic’s business since we started in 1996,” said Richard “Ricardo” Norgrove, Jr., Bear Republic Brewmaster and COO. “Cambrian’s innovative technology not only fulfills this mission, but also has proven to be a valuable asset for our business, especially as California is in the midst of a drought. By removing barriers to production expansion due to water resource limitations, we can fulfill a family dream of expanding our business within Sonoma County and creating a true destination brewery.”
In November, the Bear Republic Brewing Company and the City of Cloverdale announced a public-private partnership. Bear Republic will advance the city almost a half-million dollars to construct water wells and the city will build the wells faster so the brewery can continue producing beer. The advance payment of the water capacity fees will allow the city to complete construction on two new wells ahead of schedule, which allows Bear Republic to move forward with plans to expand its facility. Bear Republic estimates that its water needs will grow from eight million gallons of water a year in 2013 to 17.5 millions of gallons of water a year at the end of 2016.
Considering that California is in the midst of the longest drought the Golden State has ever experienced, Bear Republic is smart to install a wastewater treatment system and partner with the City of Cloverdale to build new wells. Last year was the driest year in recorded history for many areas of the state, 2012 was also a dry year for many parts of the state, and 2014 appears to be a repeat year. Half of California’s rainfall occurs in December, January and February, and there has been very little to no rainfall during December and January in most parts of the state. The snowpack’s statewide water content is at about 20 percent of average for this time of year. The situation became so dire that Governor Jerry Brown has declared a statewide drought emergency, and some cities have implemented mandatory water use restrictions.