SweetWater Brewery partners with Black Warrior Riverkeeper


Grace Hagemann

The SweetWater Brewing Company and The Black Warrior Riverkeeper are partnering through the “Save Our Water” campaign to raise funds and highlight the importance of clean water.

SweetWater Brewing Company understands the importance of protecting vital water sources and has once again teamed up with the Waterkeeper Alliance for Save Our Water, supporting the conservation of the Southeast’s most threatened rivers, streams and coastlines.

“Water is a cause that’s near and dear to us because 90 percent of beer is actually made from water, and SweetWater is actually named after a creek here in Georgia,” said Francesca Zeifman, communications manager for SweetWater Brewery.

The Save Our Water campaign has grown since its launch in 2006 and has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to support the cause.

“We started the campaign originally here in Georgia with our Chattahoochee Riverkeeper seven years ago, and we’ve grown it now to encompass 35 different waterkeepers,” Zeifman said. “Since we started the campaign seven years ago, we’ve been able to raise more than $500,000 for the cause.”

Charles Scribner, executive director of Black Warrior Riverkeeper, has also seen the campaign flourish since its start in Tuscaloosa in 2007.

“Exactly six years ago, they started selling the first paper fish in Tuscaloosa at a few bars, but we’ve really expanded the program this year,” Scribner said.

The paper fish come in a variety of amounts, and the customers are encouraged to get creative when decorating their donation.

“It’s fun – you buy the fish, you can write your name or ‘Roll Tide’ or whatever you want to write, and some people write some pretty funny stuff,” Scribner said.

The paper fish program isn’t just a fun way to spread awareness about clean water, it also generates a profit and promotes good business.

“Black Warrior Keeper gets 100 percent of the money, and it helps promote good businesses throughout Tuscaloosa because we’re encouraging people to visit those places,” Scribner said.

The money raised by this campaign goes toward conserving the Black Warrior River, which feeds into vital resources for the Tuscaloosa community.

“We’re not just protecting the Black Warrior itself but also the streams that connect to it,” Scribner said. “One prominent example would be Lake Tuscaloosa, where the city gets its drinking water.”

Tuscaloosa relies on the Black Warrior River for clean water. The Black Warrior Riverkeeper has not only participated in campaigns like Save Our Water, but has also played an active role in the refusal to lease or sell UA land for Shepherd Bend Mine.

“One of the most important campaigns that Black Warrior Riverkeeper in recent years has been pressuring The University of Alabama System Trustees to refuse to lease or sell the property for the Shepard Bend Mine, which would be a major threat to the Black Warrior River, Birmingham’s drinking water and the University’s good reputation,” Scribner said.

The Save Our Water campaign starts July 4 and ends Labor Day. To support the Black Warrior River, purchase Save Our Water T-shirts, make paper fish donations at participating establishments or donate online at waterkeeperbrew.org. For a list of participating locations, visit blackwarriorriver.org/news/save-our-water-2013.