Will the new Molson Coors brewery be a drag on Chilliwack’s drinking water source?
Questions around the potential impact on the Sardis-Vedder aquifer popped up on social media recently, and The Progress opted to seek out details about the projected water use of the new brewery.
In the exhaustive process before choosing Chilliwack to be the location of its new Western Canadian brewery, Molson Coors officials were looking for adequate space, quick access to transportation routes and good-quality water, said Josh Stewart, spokesperson for Molson Coors.
“Molson Coors has worked closely with City authorities in planning for both water use and for the water treatment,” Stewart said. “The city and Molson Coors are confident that there will not be any issues related to water use and waste water treatment.”
Environmental responsibility is a key priority for the brewing company and water conservation is one of the issues that will be “constantly” monitored.
“Right now, Molson Coors uses approximately four litres per litre of beer produced; as a company, we are striving to improve that number,” Stewart added.
By 2025 the company is looking to improve water-use efficiencies in their breweries by nearly a quarter to achieve a 2.8:1 water-to-beer ratio.
“One of the key things to also remember is our products are distributed in recyclable containers and we have an amazing track record of success in this area which has reduced our impacts on the environment for many decades,” Stewart stated. “With a reusable bottle, water use is required to wash the container. This increases water usage slightly but reduces waste significantly across our industry given that the industry standard bottle is used by more than 50 brewers nation-wide.”
Resident Terry Cross, who ran for a seat on city council last October, was the one who raised the question on Chilliwack Political Forum, a Facebook group, asking if anyone knew the estimated water use by the brewery.
“My concern is we are going through the driest time in our present history, the population growth is unprecedented and we count on one major water supply,” he wrote. “We have not heard how much water is going to be consumed by this facility. The long term effects on the community and wet lands is something that may or may not have been discussed.”
In fact the projected water usage will average 1,500 square cubic metres per day, depending on production rates, according to City of Chilliwack staff.
“We are aware of the quantity of water Molson Coors will need to use and we have accounted for it in our long-range planning,” said Mayor Ken Popove.
The moratorium placed on municipal water for water bottling companies for example is wholly different than this particular use.
“This has value-added components as part of the process,” Popove said.
Molson is also chipping in a portion of the costs of upgrading the wastewater treatment plan, and the rest of the associated costs will be recovered through the sewer fees.
“So it’s a cost-sharing partnership in that sense,” Popove added.
The city imposed a moratorium on the use of municipal water for bottling due to the need to make sure the resource is available for future growth, he said.
Molson Coors said at the ground-breaking it was investing more than $200 million into the new modern and sustainable brewery in Chilliwack. That made it the largest single private sector investment ever to come to Chilliwack, according to former Mayor Sharon Gaetz, who was instrumental in making it happen, and predicted Molson Coors would be “fabulous” for Chilliwack.
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