During a stressful time such as the current drought situation in California, it helps to be able to tell your story about what you are doing to deal with challenges such as a drought. One way to do this is to work directly with the media.
As GreenhouseGrower.com reported earlier this month, Altman Plants hosted a media day on Monday, October 3, to demonstrate the significant water savings it is seeing as a result of an innovative, on-site water-recycling program that captures irrigation runoff for reuse on plants and lowers the company’s water use. This month, Altman celebrated more than 100 million gallons of water saved since the reuse program began operation.
The Western Municipal Water District is located in the heart of Southern California and is one of California’s most severely impacted areas from the drought. Western has partnered with the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (the agency from which Western receives a large portion of its water) on ground-breaking programs to ensure a long-term, local water supply for the region.
Altman Plants is one of Western Municipal Water District’s largest retail water customers and provides plants to large retail stores, such as The Home Depot and Lowes, throughout Southern California, from San Diego to Ventura counties. The innovative partnership is now part of a national study to create best practices for growers.
Members of the media were invited to the Altman Plants, Inc. location in the Lake Matthews area of Southern California. Guests traveled via a hayride-style ride for a behind the scene tour of the one-of-a-kind Altman Plants water reclamation system.
Less than two years ago, Altman Plants secured grant funding from Western Municipal Water District (Western) and The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California to implement a water-reuse system to water the operation’s 400 acres of plants.
The project includes a water recycling program with the ability to capture 100% of Altman Plants’ irrigation runoff in lined ditches and reservoirs. The water is then treated, stored in holding ponds and reused to water the nursery’s 400 acres of plants.
Approximately 360 acre-feet of water (equal to 117 million gallons), or more than 100 millions gallons of water, has been saved annually, exceeding the project goal by 5.5%.
Many plants sold by Altman are drought tolerant. Western’s customers can replace water-thirsty plants by purchasing the drought tolerant plants, saving water and bringing the project full circle for increased water savings.
Altman Plants is also a participant in Clean Water 3, which includes a group of water researchers from throughout the country that is working to develop models that other nurseries can utilize to reduce, remediate, and recycle. In addition, the nursery is currently installing a sensor-based irrigation management system that will further reduce water use.
“The Onsite Water Reuse System Project demonstrates Altman Plants’ commitment to efficient irrigation practices and collaboration between water agencies Western Municipal Water District and Metropolitan Water District to incentivize innovative projects that reduce reliance on local water supplies,” says Craig Miller, Deputy General Manager, Western Municipal Water District. “As California continues to face a historic drought, programs such as this one are a glimpse into the future.”
“As a company, Altman Plants has always taken an interest in water savings,” says Jim Hessler, Director of West Coast Operations for Altman Plants. “We realize that we can’t create more water — in the future there will be less of it — and the cost continues to increase. We understood the reality of limited water resources years ago. Our current water reuse system takes a unique approach to water management and is being used as part of a national study to create best management practices for growers.”