Salem water advisory taking toll on businesses - KPTV - FOX 12

Salem water advisory taking toll on businesses

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Many beer vats at Santiam Brewing sit empty, as Salem’s toxic water crisis continues.

“Water is the life and soul of beer, and water has to be perfect to make good beer,” said brewery co-owner, Ian Croxall.

Croxall said the business stopped brewing immediately after the first toxic water advisory went out at the end of May. They began brewing briefly again when the advisory was lifted for a few days, and again halted production when the advisory was reissued. 

“I’m frustrated with the situation with the situation we have,” Croxall said. “We want to make high quality beer that doesn’t have toxins in it.”

Fox 12 visited the brewery and pub Sunday to learn about how the business is coping with the two-week extension of the advisory.

“Probably now we’re at seven batches missed, and probably over the next 10 days we’ll miss seven more,” Croxall said. “The true impact of this is yet to hit us, so it’s a concern of staff security. We don’t want to let anyone go; we don’t want to lay anyone off.”

There’s worry there might not be enough beer to meet distribution demands, but the brewery plans on doing its best to catch up once a new $4,000 water filtration system arrives.

“We’re getting a water filtration system installed in about another 10 days and that will remove cyanotoxins,” Croxall said. “Regardless of the quality of water going in, we’ll have clear, pure water coming out.”

“Once we get our water filtration system, we’ll be brewing around the clock,” Croxall added.

Over at Marco Polo Global Restaurant, owner Cathay Cheung is also thinking about getting a water filtration system, as the cost of bottled water is adding up.

“Right now, I think we’ve gone through over a thousand (bottles of water), so I work really hard in the morning to grab all the water,” Cheung said.

They sell bottled drinking water to customers for 50 cents a bottle.

At first, Marco Polo Global Restaurant offered a limited menu to avoid using water for cooking. Now they are back to full operations and using bottled water to make sauces and rice.

Cooks are still using regular tap water to cook some dishes.

“With pasta, you use a whole lot of water,” Cheung said. “I cannot bring in that much water.”

Cheung said servers are going through menus with customers and letting them know what dishes are made with tap water if they have any concerns.

Fox 12 spoke to one pregnant woman going to dinner at the restaurant Sunday evening.

“I’m kind of weary about it,” said Ashlie Estes of the restaurant’s decision to cook with tap water. “I think I’ll go in and talk to them a little bit before I eat. I just don’t want to chance it.”

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