Drought Mandate Sparks Demand For Water Technology

Posted on May 2, 2015

By Sara Jerome

California’s new drought rules could be tough on various industries, but there’s one big exception: the water-technology sector.

The state’s water-consumption crackdown is putting new technologies in high demand. “From nanotech to biotech, a range of companies is leveraging scientific leaps to profit from the preservation of what is inarguably the planet’s most precious resource,” USA Today reported.

Governor Jerry Brown mandated in April that towns and cities cut water consumption by 25 percent. The order will affect industry as well as the public. The governor “targeted commercial and residential properties because the state’s $ 45 billion agriculture business was too vital to disrupt,” the report said.

For wine companies and others in the food and beverage industry, a technology known as EcoVolt has come in handy. “Boston-based Cambrian Innovation has seen a spike in California inquiries for [the product], a self-contained system that uses electrically active microbes to both purify wastewater and generate energy-producing methane gas,” the report said.

Lagunitas Brewery in the Bay Area has already cut its water consumption by 50 percent using this product, according to the manufacturer.

Dais Analytic of Tampa, which offers a patented polymer technology, also says it can help companies conserve water. The invention “is able to transfer water from one side of a barrier to another on a molecular level. At present, the system is leveraged for reducing the carbon footprint of commercial air conditioning systems. But Dais is seeking partners in California to push its water purification system, which it claims is more cost-effective than the $ 1 billion desalination plant operating in Carlsbad, CA,” the report said.

A third company making drought-survival tech: HydroPoint Data Systems of Petaluma, CA. The company provides “smart water-management solutions that combine high-tech sensors and monitors with [cloud-based], machine-to-machine data transfer. By factoring in weather data, the system also can adjust watering routines,” the report said.

The drought, now in its fourth year, is taking a toll on businesses in the state. “Already 17,000 jobs have been lost in the Central Valley, says Steve Lyle of the California Department of Food and Agriculture. California employed 348,900 people in agriculture in 2013,” the USA Today reported in a separate piece.

Despite farmers being exempted from the April conservation mandate, they have still suffered during the drought.

Farms “are allotted rights to surface water based on a complex seniority system. During this drought, many junior rights holders—but not senior ones—have had their access to surface water diminished or shut off. Big swaths of farmland have gone fallow as a result—about five per cent of agricultural land statewide,” the New Yorker recently reported.

For more drought news, visit Water Online’s Water Scarcity Solution Center.

Image credit: “Abstract Technology” Wonderlane © 2008, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0

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