This is an extremely interesting story. To a sustainable business fan like myself, you can’t get much better than what 5 Seasons Brewing has been doing: making beer from recycled rain.
Atlanta-based 5 Seasons Brewing Co. has been using a commercial strength 6 stage water filter to collect thousands of gallons of water each month. 5 Seasons found its recycled water to be potable, after substantial testing to ensure that it produce quality beer. In fact, the rainwater would be void of chlorine, an unfavorable additive of city tap water used in brewing.
Unfortunately, the state and federal regulating authorities were not as excited. A national feature on the brewery raised a bit too much attention, and now the EPA has issued a opinion that the use of rainwater is not permissible for producing beer. Apparently, the EPA came to this result after finding no regulation that permits the use of rainwater for human consumption.
I find this result a bit perplexing. Typically, if something is not regulated, then it should not be regulated. While caution should be given to those items produced for human consumption, the EPA does not appear to have done any research on the topic. If the EPA had taken a first look, it would have seen the following:
The system, installed by RainHarvest Systems of Cumming, Georgia, has been used in commercial operations before, and the 6-stage filtration system filters down to 0.5 microns, followed by a UV filter that kills bacteria. It produces water so pure that the University of Georgia Soil and Water Laboratory, the certified lab that tested the sample from 5 Seasons, fairly gushed about it in its normally staid scientific assessment.
Perhaps most discouraging is that well water does have permissible uses, despite being much less healthy. Well water has been used in brewery for hundreds of years, continuing into today.
At the end of the day, the 5 Seasons shutdown might have been a good thing. The EPA has committed itself to studying rain water and regulating its commercial use. One of the recent issues with rain water has been radiation, which was discovered in Pennsylvania.
But, for the most part, there ought to be one heck of a sustainability justification for using well-filtered rain water. Local and state governments with strained utilities will have to consider it; The EPA will have to listen.