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Washington County Is Recycling Wastewater and Using It to Make Beer

At this year’s Oregon Brewers Festival, it will provide the highly purified water to eight participating breweries.

A core tenet of Washington County's water reuse program is that water should be judged on its quality, not its history.

That's a smart line to toe, considering a big part of the program involves converting sewage water into beer.

The county's Clean Water Services utility treats nearly 60 million gallons of wastewater at its facility in Tigard each day. But engaging the public on sustainable water practices can only go so far if you mostly use it to irrigate golf courses.

"If you want people to talk about water," Art Larrance, owner of Cascade Brewing, told the committee in 2015, "you've got to make beer."

The argument was compelling enough that Clean Water Services augmented the program, creating a mobile treatment system dubbed the "Pure Water Wagon" to recycle small amounts of water specifically for brewing beer.

At the time, the county was permitted to work only with homebrewers, but the strategy worked—Mark Jockers, government and public affairs director of Clean Water Services, says the office was "overwhelmed" by media inquiries.

Now, the program is expanding—at this year's Oregon Brewers Festival, it will provide the highly purified water to eight participating breweries.

But while the process results in "the world's most sustainable beer," the result flavor-wise is negligible to the untrained palate.

"It tastes like beer," Jockers says. "The only thing remarkable about this story is, it's not remarkable at all."

1. Because we're creating new neighborhoods…

2. Because we made voting even easier… 

3. Because a doomed building is now a temporary work of art… 

4. Because we're still No. 1 in semi-factual superlatives… 

5. Because you can finally get a beer for less than $10 at Moda Center… 

6. Because our news anchors don't take crap from internet trolls… 

7. Because University of Portland continues to turn out some of the best women's soccer players in the world… 

8. Because we are the champions of cyclocross…

9. … and roller derby… 

10. … and air guitar…

11. Because we're turning wastewater into beer…

12. … and beer into exercise…

13. Because a local punk legend is holding a permanent rummage sale in the basement of a record shop…

14. Because we let you stop and smell the weed…

15. Because we're a world hub for slap-tagging…

16. Because even Texans are impressed by our barbecue… 

17. … and you can get almost any style of pizza here… 

18. … and also, we've perfected the soy curl… 

19. Because we're dedicated to keeping our strippers healthy and limber…

20. Because our gynecologists are building a better speculum…

21. Because our airport keeps getting more awesome…

22. …and so does Movie Madness…

23. Because we're making Halloweens more inclusive…

24. Because the city's most daring developer is growing strawberry fields in the sky…

25. Because we're bringing the pay phone back, minus the "pay" part…

26. Because you can turn on the TV and see your neighbor compete in an eating contest against a bear…

27. Because hardcore foosball players finally have a home…

28. Because we're home to the largest astrology school in the United States… 

29. Because this is the best place in the country to be a witch… 

30. Because we believe no kitty should be left behind…

31. Because the barred owls are taking over…

32. Because the best Trail Blazer in history is playing in front of us…