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Firestone Brewery says drought was factor in strong odor coming from ponds

Alex Ullrich, KCBX News

The largest brewery on the Central Coast, Firestone Walker in Paso Robles, is working to solve an odor problem that has plagued the brewery and local neighbors for days.

Brewing requires a lot of water, and much of that water can be collected and saved, so Firestone Walker Brewery decided to build water retention ponds for that purpose. The problem is that once the ponds started to fill up with water from the brewery, bacteria started to grow and put off a foul odor. 

Adam Firestone, one of the company's founders, says this clearly wasn't part of the plan.

"What happened was, we had [the ponds] designed and built for us last year and the belief was that the aeration system that was built into it would be able to digest the organics that were fed into it," said Firestone. "Frankly, they were wrong and in retrospect, had we filled them with water first and slowly metered the waste into them, we may not have had this problem."

But Firestone did not fill the ponds first, because that would have required a lot of water—something brewery management says it was working to save. 

"The drought is playing into everything we do right now, and if it isn't for other businesses, it will be soon," said Firestone. "We're super concerned and worried about that for the future."

Firestone said the situation is improving and the odor should only be around for another few weeks. The brewery said they are doing everything they can to solve the problem. Part of that plan includes large fans that are currently blowing the odor south, away from the heart of Paso Robles.