The drought has spurred three of the Valley’s largest companies to reduce water use. Here is how those firms have conserved:
SPECIAL REPORT: FROM DROUGHT TO EL NIÑO
What it does: One of the largest poultry processors on the West Coast. Foster Farms is headquartered in Livingston, with plants in Fresno, Porterville and Turlock and in four other states.
Number of employees: More than 12,000 people.
How much water it consumes: Foster Farms’ Livingston plant used 58 percent of the city’s water in 2013, state officials told The Bee in September. Last year, the company’s share was 67 percent, and through July 2015, the portion escalated to 69 percent.
Water conservation efforts: The company invested in a $17 million water treatment facility in Livingston that treats its processing water and returns up to 70 percent of city water back to the aquifer. New initiatives such as water metering and re-use projects have reduced consumption by 3.4 percent compared with 2013 and nearly 9 percent compared with 2014. System and equipment updates have reduced water use per bird by 20 percent. A water-reduction program at the Livingston facility, to be completed in February, is expected to cut water usage by more than 25 percent.
Cost: $1.3 million and an estimated $2.8 million more in the next few months.
Details: Last year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture imposed new standards for salmonella control that increased water use by 6 percent between 2013 and 2014. Foster Farms installed new processing and metering equipment to cut the amount of water used.
California Dairies Inc.
What it does: The state’s leading milk-marketing and processing cooperative is co-owned by 400 dairy families. The cooperative has six plants in California – Artesia, Fresno, Los Banos, Tipton, Turlock and Visalia – that make powdered milk, butter and cream cheese.
Number of employees: 880
How much water it consumes: CDI plants consumed a total of 1.24 trillion gallons of potable water in 2013, according to the company’s most recent sustainability report. That year, 0.96 gallons of water was used to process 1 gallon of milk. That marked a slight reduction from the previous year, when it took a gallon of water to process a gallon of milk.
Water conservation efforts: Milk is 87 percent water. In 2013, CDI recovered about 680 million gallons of water from milk as part of the evaporation process. The “cow-water” is processed and treated, then used to water landscaped areas, to clean plants and equipment, and as boiler feed water, reducing the need for potable water from local cities. The reclaimed water is used on 100 percent of the landscaping at the 55-acre Visalia facility and the 85-acre Tipton site. The cooperative used 225 million gallons of reclaimed water at its plants in 2013, an increase of 3.2 percent from the year before.
Wastewater at the Tipton plant is treated on site and sent to one of nine settling basins, where it returns to the aquifer. More than 900,000 gallons of treated water returns to the ground every day, the company’s report said.
How much water reduced: 2.6 percent less water consumed in 2013; 3.2 percent increase in gallons of water recycled; 1.3 percent less water discharged for every gallon of milk processed.
Cost: More than $3.7 million spent on water treatment and groundwater recharge at Tipton since 2011.
Details: The Turlock plant in 2010 received the Facility of the Year award from the California Water Environment Association for outstanding achievement in environmental protection and industrial wastewater control.
Olam Spices and Vegetable Ingredients
What it does: It is a global food-ingredients company headquartered in Fresno. Olam Spices and Vegetable Ingredients sources and/or operates in 11 countries, manufactures in six nations, and sells to more than 65 countries. The company also contracts an average of 50,000 acres with farmers across the state to provide onion, garlic, parsley and processed tomatoes.
Number of employees: Approximately 2,000 people.
How much water it consumes: All four California facilities use a total of roughly 1,300 acre-feet of water per year.
Water conservation efforts: Olam’s Sustainable Plant Initiative has trained more than 2,000 employees on water conservation in the workplace and in the home. The company is also one of the first food processors in California to work with the World Wildlife Fund and the Alliance for Water Stewardship to better address water risks related to the business and to the larger watershed.
This year, Olam’s water-savings investments have led to a 16.2 million-gallon reduction in water use. On the farm, 80 percent of tomatoes Olam processes are grown on drip irrigation along with 90 percent of its garlic. Olam is also actively supporting the conversion to drip irrigation for its onions grown for dehydration production.
Cost: Not available.
Details: Olam has been involved in the California Water Action Collaborative that consists of various food and beverage companies as well as nongovernmental organizations that have a stake in California’s water stewardship.