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Valley Businesses Reusing Water

As California’s drought drags on and water supplies get tighter, Valley businesses are finding ways to get more uses from the water they have, or just use less

Fresno’s water parks are keeping the pools filled, but letting the grass go brown. Nurseries are using irrigation mats or electronic monitors to keep plants watered with less waste. And other businesses are finding ways to reuse the water they have.

In June, Saint Agnes Medical Center in northeast Fresno started reclaiming cooling tower water for irrigation, said facilities director Rudy Negrete.

The hospital used to send its cooling tower water to a drain. Now, the hospital diverts that water to a storage tank, where it can be used to keep the grass green and the landscape lush. And as temperatures rise, the cooling towers use more water. That means there’s more water available to irrigate landscape that’s thirstier in the heat.

Negrete said the hospital is studying other ways to conserve water as well, although he declined to give details.

“We want to be respectful to the use of the water,” Negrete said.

Cargill’s beef-processing plant in southwest Fresno gets its water from on-site wells, and all of the company’s plants treat and reuse water, said Mike Martin, director of communications at Cargill, Inc. The company has repaired leaks and acquired more water-efficient equipment to reduce water use, he said.

The plant’s water is first used for sanitation of the plant and meat, he said. The water is then treated, and methane produced during the treatment is used to heat boilers for the water.

There are two facilities at the Fresno location, one for slaughtering and butchering beef and one for producing ground beef patties, he said. The butchering plant, which uses the bulk of water, has reduced its water consumption by 17% in the past five years, while the ground beef patty plant has reduced its water use by 41% over that time.

Island Waterpark in northwest Fresno spent about $250,000 in the off-season to prepare for the drought by installing more automated controls and fixing leaks and mechanical failures in the filtration system that treats and reuses their water, said general manager Amber Watson. The park now loses its water only to evaporation, and then only about 3% of it in a day, she said.

Other areas of the park are not as green as they used to be, as the park has cut back on its watering schedule. And park areas that don’t see much use, such as the picnic areas on the outskirts or the golf course, are no longer watered at all, she said.

“Still nice enough to lounge on, but they’re not as green as they’ve been in the past,” Watson said.

Wild Water Adventure Park east of Clovis has also chosen fringe areas to not water, in addition to other tactics such as installing low-flow toilets, said general manager Bob Martin.

The park is not just letting grass go dry but the ponds as well, allowing two to empty and keeping the third minimally filled, he said. The fish will have to be relocated at some point, he added.

At Red Carpet Car Wash, all but one of the company’s locations have a system for recycling water, vice president Michael Bowie said. And its location at Bullard Avenue and First Street is working on a system for treating wastewater, making it fit for reuse.

The company also started two years ago to use highly pressured water for washes. It’s like taking a gushing hose with a tiny hole, building up pressure to create a big spray of mist rather than a torrent, reducing water consumption, he said.

Some locations use under 20 gallons per car, he said. The average person uses about 50 gallons to wash their car at home, he added.

Nurseries, whose business depends on keeping plants alive no matter how severe the drought, have also found ways to make water stretch.

Scott Miller, owner of Gazebo Gardens in central Fresno, said his nursery and landscaping business is educating the public. Most of the questions on Gazebo Gardens’ radio show, “Valley Grown Radio,” are about drought-related issues.

Source: The Fresno Bee

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