Pioneering Water Recovery Project

We are always looking to employ new techniques to reduce our use of natural resources and to recycle them wherever practical. High quality water is the lifeblood of any brewery and we are lucky enough to have our own artesian well deep beneath the brewery. This means all our beer is brewed with natural, chalk-filtered mineral water.

Since 2013 we have been working on a pioneering water recovery project which will enable us to significantly reduce the amount of water we draw from our well by recycling our waste water so that it may be used for cleaning and in our boilers. This will enable us to reserve our well water solely for brewing. We will also be left with bio-mass from the process which can be used as a fertiliser.

Shepherd Neame already has an impressive 5:1 ratio for water usage to beer output – we are aiming to reach a 3:1 ratio, which would make us industry-leading. By installing a water recovery plant at our Faversham Brewery, we are able to recover 40 per cent of the water that was previously sent to the drain during brewing and cleaning. Inevitably, we will recover more water than we can use, so we are currently seeking permission from the Environment Agency to discard any excess water into Faversham Creek.

Our Head Brewer Richard Frost has answered some of the more obvious questions about this project below. However, if you wish to find out more, please email us at comms@shepherdneame.co.uk

1.    Who will be granting this permission?
The Environment Agency will be responsible for this decision, but they’ll be consulting with relevant bodies and agencies in the town and further afield. This will include residents’ associations, heritage bodies, wildlife charities, local government and many others. We will also need drainage approval from the local council.
 
2.    On what criteria will the decision be based?
Essentially, the Environment Agency will only give us permission if they are confident there will be no negative environmental impact on the Creek. This is what we want too. We know we’re an integral part of Faversham’s community, so take our responsibilities to it very seriously. We’re looking forward to telling people more about this exciting project.
 
3.    Where can I voice my opinion?
We will be holding a consultation with the public on Tuesday 29th April at the Water Recovery Plant in North Lane at 6pm. All are welcome. There will be a short presentation, followed by a question and answer session. The Environment Agency will be holding an independent consultation process. We hope to have everything concluded by this summer.
 
4.    Is this water safe for the public and the environment?
Yes. Ondeo, the operators of the site, currently run 700 similar operations across Europe. The water will have been ‘ultra-filtered’ and is far cleaner than the water currently being sent to the creek by the brewery via the Faversham Sewage Treatment Plant. We’ve commissioned some independent monitoring of the current quality of the creek water and we’ll continue this monitoring if we’re granted permission to flow the Plant’s water into the creek.
 
To be totally clear, we’re talking about the water left over from brewing here, not domestic waste from the brewery – that will continue to flow into the local sewerage network – like any other business or home in the town.
 
5.    How much water do we expect to be pumping into the Creek?
It is likely to be an average of 86,000 gallons per day. To put that output into context, it would take more than a week to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool with this water. It is worth remembering that by recycling our water, we’ll be drawing less water from our artesian well and, hence, reducing our load on the local water table.
 
6.    Why has this all come about?
Around 40 years ago the brewery joined forces with other local businesses to fund the building of the treatment plant that currently feeds into the creek. Our agreement to use this site is coming to an end, so we’re looking at the best way to operate in the future.
 
All organisations in the South East will face tough decisions regarding their water usage and disposal in the coming years. We are addressing this now, before it becomes a ‘problem’. By becoming more self-sufficient we are increasing our autonomy, rather than imposing our demands on the town’s infrastructure.