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Officials Concerned Brewery May Harm Cold Spring Trout Stream

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(credit: CBS) Mike Binkley
Mike Binkley has been covering Minnesota news for more than 25 year...
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COLD SPRING, Minn. (WCCO) – The big demand for craft beers and energy drinks is causing concern in Cold Spring. But these worries have little to do with caffeine or alcohol, it’s the amount of water being used by the company that produces the drinks.

Cold Spring Brewing is a beverage industry success story in central Minnesota. It taps into the pure underground water, which gave the town its name, to produce millions of cases of beer. It also boasts of being the number one producer of energy and specialty drinks in the U.S.

But the problem lies in the 1.7-mile stream that runs through the brewery’s property. It’s known for being a trout stream and the Department of Natural Resources is working to protect it.

“It never stops flowing, and it never freezes because it’s groundwater,” said Cold Spring Public Works director Paul Hoeschen.

Hoeschen said Cold Spring is in no danger of running out of water, but the DNR is focused on eliminating any impact to the stream.

“The elderly around town are telling us that it flows stronger now than it did 70 years ago,” he said. “It used to be intermittent, and now it always flows.”

Hoeschen said the DNR has given the city a deadline of December 2014 to find new sources of water, farther away. In the coming years, the state will likely shut down all the wells near the trout stream, including the ones used to make beer and energy drinks.

Brewery officials didn’t return our calls, but their viewpoint seems apparent with one of the ales they produce: Lost Trout. The label describes the legend of trout in the stream as “a bit fishy.” But it describes its ale as “truthfully delicious.”

The water from the current wells in Cold Spring is so pure, the city only has to add chlorine and fluoride at the site. But where they’re drilling now, the water contains elements that might require a treatment facility.

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