The evacuation of Idyllwild created an unintended consequence for the Idyllwild Water District.

With many fewer people in town, demand on the wastewater treatment plant plummeted. This can be a problem for nourishing the bacteria that clean the water.

“With the evacuation, [there were] no businesses or camps, thus no organic material for the biological process. In wastewater terms, the food-to-mass ratio was too low,” said IWD General Manager Jack Hoagland

Much less food and nutrients passed into the plant, so Hoagland reached out to Don Put, head brewer at the Idyllwild Brewpub.

He made a quick batch of wort Sunday morning. This is mostly sugar and proteins. Since there was no time to ferment, the alcohol level was nonexistent. Put also said the wort contains no hops, which can kill the bacteria.

Hoagland asked Put to discharge the wort “directly to the sewer so the sugars and carbohydrates would act as food for the bacteria at the WWTP.”

Put brewed 10 barrels, a little more than 300 gallons, and released half Sunday and the other half on Monday.

“This is meth for bacteria,” Put said. “It’s all sugar. I’m happy to do it and have the skill set to do it.”

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