Quantcast
Business

The Solar Technology That Could Solve California's Water Problem

The founders of a California company are gearing up to make a difference in their state's future—about 2 million gallons worth of a difference.

As the state battles a lengthy drought and considers spending $7 billion to $9 billion to produce, transport and store fresh water, WaterFX, a San Francisco-based, independent water producer says it has been testing a potential solution for the past year.

In Fresno County, WaterFX has been converting irrigation runoff to pure water at its solar thermal desalination plant as part of a project for the Panoche Water and Drainage District. According to a San Francisco Chronicle report, it's the only solar-based desalination plant in the country. It currently produces 14,000 gallons per day, but its owners say that amount could grow to 2 million in the near future.

"Eventually, if this all goes where I think it can, California could wind up with so much water it's able to export it instead of having to deal with shortages," co-founder Aaron Mandell told the publication. "What we are doing here is sustainable, scalable and affordable."

The plant uses Concentrated Solar Still technology through a large solar reflector that focuses the sun long tubes with mineral oil. The heated tube creates steam to condense contaminated water into pure water, separating the minerals. Mandell said he hopes to process about 10 times the amount of water within five years. The solar desalination plant produces water for $450 per acre-foot—about one-quarter of what more typically desalinated water costs.

Farmers in the test area are on board and excited to see what the future holds.

"This situation right now is a killer, and anything that adds to a potential water supply is good," Mike Stearns, a fourth-generation farmer in the Panoche district, told the San Francisco Chronicle. Sterns said the drought will force him to fallow much of his tomato and onion fields this year.

"It appears this solar system will be cost-effective, and if Aaron can perform as we think he can, it can make a huge difference—be a great supplement at the very least," Dennis Falaschi, manager of the Panoche district added. "We're talking about basically unusable drainage water that is in everybody's interest to mine.

"This solar plant could be a very important part of where we want to be in terms of being self-sufficient in the valley."

Visit EcoWatch’s RENEWABLES page for more related news on this topic.

Show Comments ()
Sponsored

Honeybees Are Struggling to Get Enough Good Bacteria

A study published in Ecology and Evolution Monday shows that the big changes humans make to the land can have important consequences for some tiny microorganisms honeybees rely on to stay healthy.

Keep reading... Show less
Palace of Westminster. Alan Wong / Flickr

UK to Review Climate Goals, Explore 'Net-Zero' Emissions Strategy

The UK will review its long-term climate target and explore how to reach "net-zero" emissions by 2050, Environment Minister Claire Perry announced Tuesday.

The UK is the first G7 country to commit to such an analysis, which would seek to align the country's emissions trajectory to the Paris agreement's more ambitious goal of limiting warming to 1.5°C.

Keep reading... Show less
Lesser is greater. The lesser long-nosed bat pollinates agave flowers. Larry Petterborg / Flickr

First Bat Removed From U.S. Endangered Species List Helps Produce Tequila

The lesser long-nosed bat made bat history Tuesday when it became the first U.S. bat species to be removed from the endangered species list because of recovery, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) announced.

Keep reading... Show less
Toxic fluorinated chemicals in tap water and at industrial or military sites. Environmental Working Group

Fluorinated Chemical Pollution Crisis Spreads

Two decades after pollution from highly toxic fluorinated chemicals was first reported in American communities and drinking water, the number of known contamination sites is growing rapidly, with no end in sight.

The latest update of an interactive map by Environmental Working Group (EWG) and the Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute at Northeastern University documents publicly known pollution from so-called PFAS chemicals at 94 industrial or military sites in 22 states. When the map was first published 10 months ago, there were 52 known contamination sites in 19 states. The map and accompanying report are the most comprehensive resources tracking PFAS pollution in the U.S.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Popular

Plastics: The History of an Ecological Crisis

The Earth Day Network has announced that this year's Earth Day, on Sunday, April 22, will focus on ending plastic pollution by Earth Day 2020, the 50th anniversary of the world's first Earth Day in 1970, which led to the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the passage of the Clean Water, Clean Air and Endangered Species Acts.

Keep reading... Show less
GMO
Mike Mozart / Flickr

Germany to Put 'Massive Restrictions' on Monsanto Weedkiller

German Agriculture Minister Julia Kloeckner announced Tuesday she is drafting regulation to stop use of glyphosate in the country's home gardens, parks and sports facilities, Reuters reported.

The minister also plans to set "massive restrictions" for its use in agriculture, with exemptions for areas that are prone to erosion and cannot be worked with heavy machinery.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

Species Threatened as Climate Crisis Pushes Mother Nature 'Out of Synch'

By Julia Conley

The warming of the Earth over the past several decades is throwing Mother Nature's food chain out of whack and leaving many species struggling to survive, according to new research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The study offers the latest evidence that the climate crisis that human activity has contributed to has had far-reaching effects throughout the planet.

Keep reading... Show less
EPA memos passed since December weaken air quality controls for the sake of industry. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

EPA Memos Show Sneak Attack on Air Quality

Behind all the media attention focused on U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) head Scott Pruitt's many scandals, the agency has quietly passed a series of four memos since December that have a net impact of reducing air pollution controls to benefit industry, The Hill reported Wednesday.

The Hill's report comes just days before the world celebration of Earth Day on Sunday, April 22. The first Earth Day, in 1970, is often credited with leading to the passage of the Clean Air Act that same year, but now the Trump administration seems intent on rolling back that legacy.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!