A New Clean-Water Initiative Aims to Benefit Breweries and Birds

The National Audubon Society is working with brewers in the Delaware River Watershed to keep waterways clean so that customers can continue to drink great beer and birds don’t lose their habitat.

John Holl Feb 11, 2019 - 5 min read

A New Clean-Water Initiative Aims to Benefit Breweries and Birds Primary Image

Photo: Osprey. Photo: Kurt Wecker/Audubon Photography Awards

Water is the vital resource for life as well as beer. Protecting this natural resource has been top of mind for many breweries in the country for years—from initiatives to keep the Great Lakes pristine to ensuring that municipal water supplies and infrastructure are maintained and free from contaminates. Now the National Audubon Society has joined forces with brewers in the Delaware River Watershed to make sure that a vital area of the country that is responsible for not only drinking water but also tourism and habitats for native birds is protected.

Earlier this year the society launched the Brewers for the Delaware River Association, a group of professional brewers committed to keeping the area clean and thriving. This initiative aims to protect the more than 400 species of birds living in the area that covers more than 13,500 square miles over Delaware, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania, says Maddox Wolfe, the costal campaigns manager for the National Audubon Society.

“In politics, there’s a saying that if you don’t have a seat at the table, you’re on the menu,” she says.

With that in mind, more than a dozen breweries that have already signed onto the association delivered a letter to the 116th U.S. Congress urging them “to continue to support restoration and conservation efforts in the Delaware River Basin.”


The breweries that signed the letter are: Shrewd Fox (Eldred, New York), Flying Fish (Somerdale, New Jersey), Crooked Eye Brewery (Hatboro, Pennsylvania), Braeloch Brewing (Kennett Square, Pennsylvania), Bangor Trust Brewing (Bangor, Pennsylvania), Bonn Place Brewing (Bethlehem, Pennsylvania), Tuned Up Brewing Co. (Spring City, Pennsylvania), Newtown Brewing Co. (Newtown, Pennsylvania), EARTH-Bread+Brewery (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) Tannery Run Brew Works (Ambler, Pennsylvania), Lost Tavern Brewing (Hellertown, Pennsylvania) and Conshohocken Brewing Company.

Wolfe says she hopes other breweries will join the association.

According to Audubon, the Watershed does more than just supply clean reliable drinking water. It includes 400 miles of designated National Wild and Scenic River, 700,000 acres of wetland habitat that is home to outdoor recreation activities, and more than 400 bird species. The area is home to the second largest population of migrating songbirds and raptors in North America and the largest inland bald eagle wintering habitats in the northeastern United States.

“Having preservation efforts in place, especially concerning clean water, is not only important but vital to a healthy planet—and a healthy planet, is a happy planet,” said Sam Masotto, owner of Bonn Place Brewing Company in a press release. “The health of the Delaware River Watershed directly impacts me and my business because we need clean water to live, and the better the water quality, the better our beer.”

The Audubon Society has also worked with brewers in Arizona to protect the Colorado River and collaborated with several breweries last year on a special beer, Rain Crow IPA. There, the society says that Arizona relies on the Colorado River for about 40 percent of its water supply.

“But with serious drought across the basin, and Colorado River reservoirs falling, the National Audubon Society—through its Western Water program, state offices, and partnerships—is urging Arizona to adopt water conservation measures that reduce risks to our economic and environmental livelihoods. Stabilizing water levels in Lake Mead is critical for our rivers, birds, wildlife, communities, and economies.”

Back on the East Coast, by urging Congress to provide strong funding for the Delaware River Basin Restoration Program, the brewers say efforts crucial to improving and maintaining the quality of a critical water source will help their businesses operate successfully and thrive.

If you’re a brewery in the region that would like to support the initiative or a drinker looking to take action, you can find more information here.

John Holl is the author of Drink Beer, Think Beer: Getting to the Bottom of Every Pint, and has worked for both Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine® and All About Beer Magazine.