IRWINDALE : Brewer May Have to Reply on Recycled Waste Water

Beer made from recycled sewer water may not sound too tasty, but the Miller Brewing Co. plant in Irwindale may have to start making it.

Miller has been accused of stalling on a $25-million water reclamation project proposed by water district officials in the San Gabriel Valley because the idea of beer made from reclaimed sewer water sounds bad.

Miller officials say they think the process could be dangerous and requires more research. Miller uses 869 million gallons of water each year to make beer at its Irwindale plant.

On July 20, the board of directors for the Upper San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District approved an environmental impact study for an underground pipeline to transport the reclaimed water from a sewage plant in Whittier to spreading grounds in Irwindale. The water then will drip down to the ground water, from which the district draws much of its drinking supplies.


Miller has delayed the project for a year by swamping water district officials with questions that they are required to answer about its effect on the environment and the public.

But now that the environmental issue has been resolved, the brewer will either have to sue or accept the sewage.

Company attorneys said they are considering going to court.

“We have scientists who say it’s dangerous and they have scientists who say it’s not,” said Michael Brophy, a spokesman at Miller corporate headquarters in Milwaukee. “We’re erring on the side of caution.”


But Jim Goodrich, executive director of the San Gabriel Basin Water Quality Authority, which oversees the cleanup of the basin’s pollutants, says the region will need the water now devoted to beer for other uses in the future. “It’s hogwash that this is a health issue,” Goodrich said. “Reclaimed water is cleaner than storm water.”

Treated water from the Whittier plant already is pumped into homes in 43 cities. The Upper San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District serves 1 million residents in 18 cities. It imports 25% of its water from Northern California and the Colorado River. Water officials say the northern supply will be harder to count on as more water gets held back for environmental reasons.