In Martinez, California, CoCo San Sustainable Farm is changing the future of their land using reclaimed water. When Carolyn Phinney heard that kids in local schools were being fed more pizza than salads due to the higher cost of fresh produce, she started CoCo San as a way to provide fresh fruits and vegetables to local schools and food banks. Since May of 2020, she has already grown and donated more than 13,000 pounds of produce using just a half acre of land. In the next few years, Phinney hopes to irrigate and grow on the other 14.5 acres of the farm.
The land that is now home to CoCo San was not previously used for farming, or growing anything for that matter. Used primarily as a dump site for excavated subsoil, the land was so barren that weeds barely grew. So how did such barren land become a fruitful farm?
The land is located next to the Central Contra Costa Sanitary District’s (CCCSD) water treatment plant, and uses reclaimed wastewater from the plant for irrigation. Not only is the water safe and rich in nutrients, it is also free and readily available in large quantities. After going through an initial treatment to remove solid matter and sterilize living microbes, the water contains high amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and other micronutrients that help Phinney’s plants flourish.
In California, agriculture is a $50 billion industry. The state also experiences some of the worst water shortages in the nation. Most farmers use water sourced from the same sites as towns and cities, putting further strain on an already strapped system. Reclaimed wastewater offers a solution that could help ease this water crisis. In other parts of the state, treated wastewater is already being used for landscaping, to fill fountains and waterfalls, and to recharge aquifers.
Despite the fact that sterilized, treated wastewater has been approved and proven safe for use on agricultural crops, few municipalities are using it. In some parts of Northern California, water is abundant most of the year, creating the impression that there is no need to reuse wastewater. Groundwater rights are also based on property ownership. If your land is above an aquifer, you can drill, pump, and take as much water as you want. In some cities in California, the overdrawing of groundwater has caused land to sink and led some towns to run out of water completely during drought periods.
If treated wastewater is returned to aquifers and utilized for agricultural irrigation, farmers, as well as cities, will have access to a reliable water source even during times of drought. The CCCSD alone, which provides the water for the CoCo San Sustainable Farm, could provide 20,000 acre feet of water (approximately 20 million gallons) each year to farms in California.
Currently, only 1 percent of agricultural water in California comes from reclaimed wastewater. As the population increases and climate change creates more extreme weather conditions, the strain on the current water system will continue to grow. We will soon get to a point in time that using water just once is not only wasteful, but unthinkable.
About Aqua Bio Technologies, LLC
Founded in 2010, Darien, Illinois-based Aqua Bio Technologies is a leading provider of innovative biologic restoration, water reclaim, rain harvest, odor control and reverse osmosis (RO) systems. None of its solutions use ozone, UV, or chemicals of any kind to control odor – only nature. As the manufacturer of the first vehicle wash industry closed-loop water treatment system, the company is able to deliver a substantial savings in time and money to its customers with dramatic reductions is water and sewer costs.
For more information about Aqua Bio and how our systems are designed to save you and your car wash a ton of money by reusing 100% of the water collected contact us today.