Falaschi estimates that treated water can be achieved through the expanded facility at a cost of $325 per acre foot. In this extremely water-short year water is selling for as much as $3,500 per acre foot in some locations.

Operation of the unit produces a residue of salt, boron, and a few other solids, all of which are saleable on the food and plant nutrition market. Mining these promises to be profitable.

Most of the other desalination plants planned or already operating in California hug the coast, where heat from the sun is not as consistent or even as intense, as it is in the warm Central Valley, especially in the spring through early fall months. Utilizing the sun’s rays for power generation has become widely popular among the area’s homeowners.

 

 

Suppliers of the unit at Panoche suggest that duplicating its expanded version and applying the concept in other parts of the state has the potential of establishing California as a water exporter.

Falaschi’s view is more conservative. “We’re dealing only with replacement water, not a solution to our state’s water needs. We must work with others to fix the system that takes water from agriculture and uses it for other purposes. We have been forced to spend money to replace water that has been taken from us.”

For Central Valley farmers, who depend on the sun for crop development, finding their silent partner so willing to help with the water issue might be serendipity at its best.

 

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