SABMiller, the second-largest brewing company in the world, and their subsidiary companies, such as MillerCoors, understand the importance of maintaining and preserving freshwater systems. This includes water management in their breweries and the supply chain. In particular, barley production requires a great deal of freshwater, and can pose issues to the surrounding watershed. That’s why MillerCoors is working with The Nature Conservancy to educate and improve practices of these suppliers in an effort to protect freshwater systems that are vital to their business, surrounding communities and wildlife.
In 2009 MillerCoors and the Conservancy began working together in the Silver Creek watershed of central Idaho. Silver Creek is one of the country’s premier trout streams and one of the Conservancy’s premier preserves. It is also surrounded by barley growers under contract to MillerCoors. And while Silver Creek is indeed a special resource, its health is threatened by a wide range of stressors from high summer water temperatures, increasing sedimentation, decreased flows (due to irrigation) and invasive species. With the help of MillerCoors the Conservancy has been able to make substantial improvements to the watershed and increase protection of Silver Creek.
Specifically, MillerCoors has helped fund:
- A study of the watershed to ensure conservation actions are based on a science-based understanding of the issues
- New wetland areas for sediment deposition
- Fencing and re-planting of riparian areas that had been degraded by grazing
- Easements on adjacent properties to prevent inappropriate development
In 2011 and 2012 the initiative will seek to expand the best management practices employed at Silver Creek to other farmers in the watershed and beyond. A “Showcase Barley Farm” will be created through a joint effort between an area farmer, MillerCoors and the Conservancy. This farm will serve as a model for other producers to visit and learn how best practices can provide important conservation benefits without impacting farm productivity.
SABMiller in Latin America
In South America, SABMiller and its subsidiary company Bavaria are strong supporters of the Conservancy’s water fund efforts, to protect freshwater sources across the region. Current water funds have been launched using SABMiller contributions in Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Panama. These water funds are making people look at fresh water as they never have before: as a valuable good that is produced, sold and consumed and deserves our investment.
Water users pay into the funds in exchange for the product they receive — fresh, clean water. The funds, in turn, pay for forest conservation along rivers, streams and lakes, to ensure that safe drinking water flows out of users’ faucets every time they turn on the tap.