Residents in a county strive in coping with drought for 4 years now, pondering how much more water they can conserve, while 2 of the largest employers in the county are asking themselves similar questions.
On Wednesday night, about 50 individuals squeezed into the Allterra Solar in order to learn about water usage through the Boardwalk and Driscoll’s, which is a global berry brand established in 1904. They also intended to get updated data and important perspective from the officials in county government as well as in one of the most prestigious universities in the state.
Boardwalk’s Kris Reyes disclosed how the amusement park ran out of water since the drought in the 1970s. Portable toilets were situated along the boardwalk because restrooms were closed.
In 1977, Logger’s Revenge opened, which is a new splash ride that uses 200,000 gallons of water within a year, while the water recirculated, and then emptied towards the end of the season. According to Reyes, a single restroom alone would consume 60,000 up to 70,000 gallons of water every day.
This circumstance initially prompted the Boardwalk to be the pioneering institute in the area to recycle water. In the 1970s, they captured water from water-cooled machines to irrigate landscaping. Storage tanks were inside the Giant Dipper, painted them white, while the roofs painted red so as guests would barely notice them.
Reyes said the switch to waterless urinals was very challenging because guests would tend to wash sand off their feet inside the sinks. Foot-washing stations were then installed, including waterless urinals.
Also, plumbing was upgraded into ultra-low fixtures, including the test of a toilet that makes use of reclaimed water. Reyes explained that the agency is taking conservation efforts very seriously without compromising the aesthetic of the entire park.
Meanwhile, Driscoll’s Naomi Sakoda said in 2009, the company had begun looking at sustainability. She added that her company also recognizes that it is part of the current issue. However, Driscoll’s is a purchaser of berries from a number of independent growers, and not a grower. In 2013, Driscoll’s started requiring berry growers to track water use.
Sakoda said that was a big eye-opener to her as the growers are unaware of how much they’re putting on. In order to allow transparency for water usage, the company puts in the investment an automated system for tracking the water use. The findings show varied results, highly dependent on the microclimates and the soil types.
Between 2010 and 2011, Driscoll’s worked hand-in-hand with hydrologist Andy Fisher in developing an aquifer recharge basin amongst one of the grower’s ranch. However, there was not much of rain, Sakoda said. The company also partnered with the Resource Conservation District in funding a network that would provide growers with soil moisture probes. The project was also intended to offer workshops as well as a certification exam for irrigators who aim at achieving water efficiency.
University professor Gary Griggs explained that residents in the county make use of 49 gallons per day, per person. John Ricker, county water resources chief added that all water sources in the area are under an overdraft state, while predicting that new water will be very expensive.