FOLSOM (CBS13) — California’s drought is threatening jobs and earnings at a local sake factory as owners wonder if they’ll have enough water to stay in business.

Sake is made by the fermentation of rice, but water is a big part of the process. A lack of water at Folsom Lake could mean big problems for Gekkeikah Sake.

The owner of Suishin Sushi wants to support local businesses, so they serve up Gekkeikah, which has been brewed at a Folsom plant for the last 25 years.

“We came here 25 years ago, because we can get nice, pure, rich water here,” said Yuki Saito with Gekkeikah.

But water from the Sierra has slowed and lake levels are down. Mandatory water restrictions in Folsom have already made the company make cutbacks such as not running a fountain in the main lobby.

But if the drought worsens, Saito says they might have to slow production, because they heavily depend on water.

Last year Gekkeikah made more than 1 million gallons of sake and used about 1 million gallons of water to do it.

“We only have the city water to brew the sake. We don’t have any groundwater, well, or any source of water,” he said.

The city of Folsom is talking about possibly digging ground wells to tap into more water.

It’s too early to tell if the drought will impact production this summer, but if it does, and there is less sake around, it might be a tough shot of sake for customers to swallow.

“Rice goes up, lack of water, just only a matter of time, prices will go up,” said WIng Chang with Suishin Sushi owner.

Another company in Folsom that is closely watching lake levels is the Kikkoman Soy Sauce company. They have a plant in Folsom that also relies on lake water.


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