Water Tower | La Porte City, IA

Trouble with Total Nitrogen? Contact the Local Brewery

Matthew Castillo | with 0 Comments

Trouble with Total Nitrogen? Contact the Local Brewery

What makes wastewater "bugs" happy? Beer! Well not exactly, but it turns out that a beer brewing byproduct, weak wort, is a great supplemental carbon source for denitrifiers. This was put into action by a Wastewater Treatment Facility (WWTF) in Boulder, Colorado when they teamed with their local brewing company to reduce total nitrogen by adding weak wort.

How does it work? The weak wort, a sugary substance, feeds the bacteria that denitrify wastewater. As more stringent Nitrogen requirements become more popular, municipalities are looking for creative, and cost-effective ways of reducing Nitrogen levels.
The Village of Birchwood, Wisconsin did something similar by adding glycerin as a supplemental carbon source.

Problem:  The Village’s original carbon source, molasses, had inconsistencies that clogged their feed pump.


MSA and the Village of Birchwood teamed with SunPower Biodiesel that generates glycerin as a byproduct. Glycerin, also a sweet substance, feeds the bacteria in the same way as weak wort. The Birchwood WWTF now adds glycerin, a local, inexpensive carbon source, and eliminated the feed pump issue. To date, the Village is achieving total nitrogen concentrations less than 10 mg/L and saving roughly $16,000 annually.

So next time you are exploring supplemental carbon sources, check out your local industries or swing by your local brewery for a cold one. Cheers!

MSA is dedicated to finding innovative, cost-effective solutions for communities that suit their needs. Contact MSA’s Tom Fitzwilliams for more information on wastewater treatment technologies.

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