Sen. Weiner introduces legislation for easier water recycling in breweries, wineries

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San Francisco– Recently in first sentence of Sen. Weiner (D-San Francisco) announced bipartisan legislation that will make it easier for California’s breweries and wineries to reuse water. Senate Bill 166 requires the creation of clear guidelines on reusing “process water” onsite for procedures such as rinsing equipment and tanks. It directs the State Water Board in consultation with the California Department of Public Health- Food and Drug Branch (CDPH) to develop regulations for microbiological, chemical, and physical water quality and treatment requirements for the onsite treatment and reuse of process water at breweries and wineries. The regulations will include water quality monitoring requirements, notification and public information requirements, and annual reporting to the Food and Drug Branch of CDPH.

California faces a structural and persistent water shortage. As water becomes more strained, our droughts grow longer and more frequent, and climate change persists, it is vital that the state do more to combat and prepare for the effects of climate change. Breweries and wineries throughout the state are interested in reducing their water footprint. They use water not only to make beer and wine, but also for cleaning their supplies including their tanks, and packaging. This stream of water is called process water and can be treated and reused onsite for tank rinses among other purposes. Recycling process water onsite in a brewery can reduce the water needed to make a gallon of beer from about 7 gallons to as low as 2.5 gallons.

“California is far behind in water recycling, and we must do more to encourage and help business reuse water onsite whenever possible,” said Senator Wiener. “Many breweries and wineries want to reuse their water and simply need more guidance and support from the state to do so. SB 166 will help provide, especially for smaller wineries and breweries, adequate direction to be able to conserve more water. SB 166 is a win-win for our environment and for our small businesses.”

The regulations in SB 166 would apply to breweries and wineries that are required to obtain a Processed Food Registration license from the Food and Drug Branch, which are the vast majority of breweries and wineries. The State Water Board will be required to develop these regulations on or before December 1, 2025. SB 166 will make it easier for breweries and wineries throughout California to reuse their water, using the appropriate technologies and methods, without having to reinvent the wheel every time.

“San Francisco consistently ranks among the lowest water users in the state—thanks in part to smart and innovative water conservation and reuse practices and policies in place,” said SFPUC General Manager Harlan L. Kelly, Jr. “This legislation builds on our successful program and provides clear and consistent guidelines for breweries and wineries across the state to conserve and reuse water. We commend Senator Wiener for his ongoing partnership and leadership on this important work.”

SB 166 continues Senator Wiener’s work on increasing water recycling throughout California. Last year he authored and and passed SB 966 – first-in-the-nation legislation to help local municipalities create onsite water recycling programs. SB 966 was also sponsored by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.

“SB 166 will help the beer and wine industry make better use of the water essential to making their world-class products,” said Drevet Hunt, Senior Attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council. “California will benefit by promoting awareness on the importance of keeping more water in our rivers and lakes to support wildlife and a healthy ecosystem.”

SB 166 is sponsored by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, and has the support of the Natural Resources Defense Council, SPUR, and the WaterNow Alliance. It is also co-authored by Senators Steve Glazer and Jeff Stone, and Assemblymember Randy Voepel.

The bill was officially introduced on January 28 and will be set for a committee hearing in the coming months.

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