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Economics of Beer, Wine Drive New Water Service Model

14 February 2017
Research Note

Over the past five years, the U.S. craft beer segment– microbreweries, brewpubs, and regional breweries– has scaled to more than 4,225 facilities. This 141% increase from 2010 is placing significant pressure on utilities to treat the high organic-solid rich effluents, while complying with discharge permits.

In January 2017, Cambrian Innovation signed a contract with Rombauer Vineyards in St. Helena, California for its containerized EcoVolt system. The EcoVolt is designed to treat high-strength wastewater flows while generating heat and electricity for onsite use. Water and wastewater already represent as much as 30% of craft brewers’ costs — making onsite treatment an attractive option for cost improvements and greenwashing with reuse.

In this Research Note, Bluefield water experts analyze how the popularity of craft breweries in the US will impact wastewater treatment strategies and reshape the utility service model.


  • Brewers adjusting to municipal infrastructure constraints, rising prices
  • Decentralized model poised for growth.
  • Surge in craft brewing reveals opportunity for alternative solutions.

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