- Courtesy City of Boise
The initiative is called Pure Water Brew Boise, and it pushes the use of "pure, 100 percent recycled water" for brewing, an alternative to the typical course of sending the water into the Boise River and downstream after it leaves the City of Boise’s Lander Street Water Renewal Facility.
"Right now, we take all of that water that comes from Boise's homes and businesses, we treat it to a really high level, and then we put it back into the river, where it just flows away down the river and we lose all that comes with that water," said Colin Hickman, communications manager for the city's Department of Public Works. "We know as a high-desert city [that] how we utilize every drop of water is exceedingly important, so this project is really to see, 'Are there different opportunities where we can use the water that we're already treating?'"
Hickman said the main obstacle to getting people to drink recycled water is the "ick factor" that comes with the act of drinking something that was once in a toilet basin or flowing down a shower drain. That, he said, is where mixing it with alcohol comes in.
"When it's beer, for some reason the same 'ick factor' doesn't exist," Hickman said.
- By U3144362 CC BY-SA 4.0
While there will be some additional cost to the city for the program, Hickman said it won't be large, and is well worth "shifting the conversation" on water. The impact on the Boise River will also be negligible, as the majority of the water the Renewal Facility treats will still go toward filling its banks.
To help facilitate the conversation further—and help citizens get over any remaining "ick factor"—the City of Boise will host a party with the brewers at the Lander Street Water Renewal Facility on Thursday, Aug. 30. Attendees can taste water that's been treated to drinking water standards, check out the mobile filtration facility (a giant yellow truck) and sample non-recycled beers and ciders from participating breweries from 5-7 p.m.