News Feature | June 6, 2014

California Farmers Look To Recycled Water

By Sara Jerome
@sarmje

farm

A new plan is in the works to get water to desperate farmers in California.

The federal government is pushing ahead with a study that could lead to the expansion of a water recycling program located in California's Central Valley. 

The U.S Bureau of Reclamation has proposed a study of the North Valley Regional Recycled Water Program, according to a notice in the Federal Register

In this project, farmers are looking to gain additional water from cities.

"The cities are planning to sell highly treated water from their sewage plants to the Del Puerto Water District, although the Turlock Irrigation District has expressed interest in part of the supply," the Modesto Bee reported

The program would provide recycled water to the Del Puerto Water District for irrigation. The water would come from the cities of Turlock and Modesto, and it would be transferred by way of the Delta-Mendota Canal. The project would also provide water to wildlife refuges and wetlands.  

The water recycling program "is designed as a regional solution to address California's water crisis by making tertiary-treated recycled water available to the drought-impacted west side of several California counties," according to the project.

“We’ve struggled with water supplies for some time, and this could solve a lot of those problems,” a district official said in the Patterson Irrigator. “Treated wastewater is becoming a trend for sure in the agricultural community, and (it is) a safe, viable and potentially reliable water source.”

The California drought has become a serious problem for farmers in recent years. "[It] is expected to take a large financial bite out of the Golden State's agricultural sector -- and lead to thousands of jobs being cut. It's also projected to have additional impacts on the nation's food prices," CBS Money Watch recently reported

"The drought is prompting growers to leave about 410,000 acres, or six percent of the Central Valley's irrigated cropland, fallow this year," the report said, citing a study by the University of California Center for Watershed Sciences. 

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Image credit: "Dry farming," exquisitur © 2008, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/