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Ninkasi Looks to Use Fine for Water Work

Ninkasi brewery's fine for a stormwater violation made the news in the RG and on KVAL this week, but Nikos Ridge, the popular beer maker's CEO is looking to turn that fine into a way to support clean water work in the community.

Ninkasi has long supported clean water efforts with special brews supporting clean water efforts in the watershed. Its 2014 Conservationale supported the work of the conservation group McKenzie River Trust.  

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality issued a $6,777 civil penalty to Ninkasi Holding Company for stormwater discharge monitoring violations. The DEQ sent a letter to the brewery Feb. 9 and then announced it in a press release Feb. 22. 

Under Oregon law, 80 percent of that fine can be used for environmental work, so rather than appeal the fine, Ridge says the brewery is filling out an application to "support the low impact development stormwater interception (bio swales, rain gardens) work that the Long Tom Watershed Council is doing."

The DEQ letter said the fine was for "for failing to monitor your stormwater discharge for benchmark levels of acidity (pH levels), total suspended solids, oil and grease, copper, lead and zinc, as well as impairment pollutant levels (including arsenic and iron)."

The violations took place between July 1, 2014, and June 30, 2015 at a Whiteaker-area property Ridge told the RG the company uses for storage, not brewing.

According to KVAL Ridge said of the violations:

"We forgot to submit the paperwork for a year," he said. "Now we have a third-party company to monitor that for us so it shouldn't be an issue going forward."

Ridge said the penalty is administrative. The company neglected to file reports on time, but nothing harmful is in the stormwater leaving the property.

"The issue is we didn't submit the paperwork that we are required to under the permit because we forgot about it," he said.

Ridge tells EW "We have to fill out an application to have the project accepted, but we are excited that the money can go to an organization that we have had a great relationship with here in the area."

Ninkasi has donated money in the past to the Long Tom Watershed Council's conservation efforts and also donated through it's Pints for a Cause evenings that give a percentage of a night's beer sales to nonprofit groups.