SAN GABRIEL VALLEY : Brewery’s Victory May Kill Water Reclamation Plan

A $25-million project to turn sewage into drinking water for 1 million San Gabriel Valley residents could be headed down the drain.

Its chief opponent, the Miller Brewing Co., has persuaded a water board to drop a policy compelling the firm to use the reclaimed water over other sources. The water board would have been the only buyer for the reclaimed water, and opponents and supporters agree that without the guarantee of a steady customer, creditors will hesitate to finance the project proposed by the Upper San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District.

The move is a victory for Miller, which for more than a year has fought to keep the treated sewage water out of the water supply it uses to make beer at its Irwindale plant. If the project were to go ahead, Miller faces the public relations nightmare of having to convince the public that beer made with treated sewage water is just as pure as Rocky Mountain spring water.

“This isn’t only a victory for Miller. It’s a victory for health of the valley,” said Terry Kelly, an attorney for Miller, which maintains the project would pollute the water supply and poses unknown health risks. Proponents argue that treated sewage water has been used elsewhere for years without problems.

The policy change was made last Wednesday by the Main San Gabriel Basin Watermaster Board, which oversees underground water supplies throughout much of San Gabriel Valley.


The water district has challenged the policy change, and a Los Angeles Superior Court judge will rule on it in January.