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MASTER'S PROJECT: Environmental and Economic Life Cycle Assessment of Alternative Source Water at Bell’s Brewery, Inc.


Master's Project

Goals & Objectives: This project aims to determine the environmental and fiscal consequences of sourcing the required volumes of water for brewing beer in the event that water cease to be available from the local municipality, point of environmental origin (groundwater), or both.

Theoretical Justification, Social Benefit, or Significance: There is a disparity between the market cost and value of reliably available water. As a result strategic long-term planning for risk management becomes a difficult for organizations with a heavy dependency on high quality water. Moreover, there is little incentive, even for environmentally conscious organizations, to invest heavily in projects that conserve or preserve water resources in their operations or local ecosystems.
Better understanding the fiscal and environmental consequences of procuring water from alternative sources will provide organizations with an alternative means to begin valuing and prioritizing pragmatic water projects. It will also allow organizations to determine the best course of action in the event their water source or provider becomes contaminated or unreliable, respectively. Aside from general direction of the type provided by the Beverage Industry Environmental Roundtable (BIER) in their white papers “Managing Water Related Risk” and “Performance in a Watershed Context” little work of this nature is publicly available and none specific to the Kalamazoo Watershed Aquifer is available.

Specific Activities & Duration: The majority of the research will be literature review to identify potential alternative means of procuring water, the life cycle inventory of these alternative approaches, and the impacts associated with said inventory. There may be some need for interviews to determine the capital and operating costs associated with alternative strategies for acquiring water for brewing operations. In order to keep the scope of the work within a 16 month period it will be necessary to restrict the number of alternative strategies to a maximum of 4.

Integrative Approach: A successful project will carefully combine an understanding of the ecological, biochemical, and mechanical requirements of water treatment, water extraction, and civil scale conveyance of water to develop a robust inventory of equipment and operating parameters from which accurate life cycle costs and life cycle assessments can be performed.

Bell's Brewery
University of Michigan - School of Natural Resources & Environment
Research Areas
Water Resources