conserve water (43)

26 Jun 2018

A Cost Analysis for Using Recycled Irrigation Runoff Water in Container Nursery Production: A Southern California Nursery Case Study

Pitton, B.J.L., Haver, D.L., Oki, L.R. (UC Davis), Hall, C.R. (Texas A&M), and S.A. White (Clemson University)

Recycling irrigation runoff water reduced costs for a southern California container plant nursery originally using expensive high-quality water. Water cost for municipal supplied water was $2.26 to $2.91 per 1000 gallons. Water capturing and recycling system construction and infrastructure accounted for a large portion of recycled water cost resulting in $0.92 to $1.21 per 1000 gallons. However, rebates and a grant reduced total and per volume recycled water cost to $0.43 and $0.53 per 1000 gallons. Recycled water is a viable alternative to many expensive water sources and public funds facilitate adoption of recycled water for irrigation.

Description of research activities

A national team of scientists is working to encourage use of alternative water resources by the nation’s billion-dollar nursery and floriculture industry has been awarded funds for the first year of an $8.7 million, five year US Department of Agriculture – National Institute of Food and Agriculture –Specialty Crop Research Initiative competitive grant.

The team will develop and apply systems-based solutions to assist grower decision making by providing science-based information to increase use of recycled water.  This award from the NIFA’s Specialty Crop Research Initiative is managed by Project Director Sarah White of Clemson University.  She leads a group of 21 scientists from nine U.S. institutions.

Entitled “Clean WateR3 - Reduce, Remediate, Recycle – Enhancing Alternative Water Resources Availability and Use to Increase Profitability in Specialty Crops”, the Clean WateR3 team will assist the grower decision-making process by providing science-based information on nutrient, pathogen, and pesticide fate in recycled water both before and after treatment, average cost and return-on investment of technologies examined, and model-derived, site specific recommendations for water management.  The trans-disciplinary Clean WateR3 team will develop these systems-based solutions by integrating sociological, economic, modeling, and biological data into a user-friendly decision-support system intended to inform and direct our stakeholders’ water management decision-making process.

The Clean WateR3 grant team is working with a stakeholder group of greenhouse and nursery growers throughout the United States.

For example, at the University of Florida graduate student George Grant is collecting data on removal of paclobutrazol, a highly persistent plant growth regulator chemical, from recirculated water using granular activated carbon (GAC) filters. This is being done in both research greenhouses and in a commercial site. The GAC filters can remove more than 90% of chemical residues, and are proving to be a cost-effective treatment method.