Startups like Epic OneWater Brew are developing ways to convert wastewater into safe, consumable beer.
The product from wastewater recycling company Epic Cleantec, backed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, creates ale by purifying water from showers, sinks, and laundry. Since federal and state laws heavily restrict the use of wastewater, the Epic OneWater Brew can’t yet be sold, but it can be given away for free to show off the potential of converted wastewater, according to CNBC.
The water is sourced from a massive San Francisco apartment complex and filtered through tiny membranes about one-thousandth the diameter of a single hair, which takes care of most of the impurities in the water. After that, ultraviolet light disinfects the liquid, and a third-party laboratory evaluates the resulting product, which always meets (and sometimes exceeds) the standard quality for safe drinking water.
“Water is omnipresent in all of our lives. It grows the food we eat, we use it to bathe, cook and clean … and yet, we know so little about how water works, how it gets to our taps and where the wastewater goes,” Epic Cleantec CEO Aaron Tartakovsky told CNBC. “We are trying to amplify the water story to tell it in a different way. And in this case, we use the medium of beer to tell that story.”
Arizona and Texas have legalized wastewater filtration for public tap water, and California, Colorado, and Florida may soon allow recycled wastewater to be converted into a drinking water system.
Once this practice becomes more commonplace, Epic Cleantec expects positive changes in the world of recycled wastewater. “Using recycled water for drinking purposes, or potable reuse, is actually quite common already,” Tartakovsky said. “However, its typically done at the municipal level … We do believe that there is regulatory momentum already underway that will make this even more commonplace in the years to come.”
As nearly 8 billion people worldwide require fresh drinking water, not to mention water to sustain agriculture, expanding our capacity for water recycling is vital to keep our societies afloat and healthy.
A recent study by Colorado State University suggested that nearly half of American freshwater basins might be incapable of meeting monthly demand in less than 50 years. Finding creative methods of maximizing our water infrastructure is essential to maintaining a healthy society.
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