As far as we know, we are well programmed to conserve electricity. Turn off the lights, unplug appliances, don’t leave the refrigerator door open, etc. But we’re missing a critical point: the energy-water connection. Considering the amount of energy and money spent to move water around California we can conserve more energy by better managing water.
Almost one-fifth of California’s energy is used to move water. Water conservation and water management are becoming vital to energy conservation. Nearly 75% of the state’s rainfall occurs in Northern California, while 75% of the agricultural and urban water use is in Central and Southern California. Water is moved around the state to support economic and urban development. Without water projects to move water, Central and Southern California would look dramatically different. The California economy is the sixth largest economy in the world and without water would not be able to support the farming or industrial production it enjoys today. For those of us living in Southern California, we receive about half our water from snow in the Sierra Nevada mountains over 400 miles away. It takes a tremendous amount of energy to move the water (which is very heavy) from Northern California to Southern California especially over the 3000 feet Tehachapi Pass. It is a fantastic engineering feat to move all this water, but is it sustainable?
The United States consumes about 20% of the world’s supply of electricity. California ranks number 2 behind Texas for states using the most electrical power. Although California ranks 48th in energy consumption per capita, it still does not produce enough energy to meet it’s consumption needs and ends up being a net importer of electricity. Way to go Pennsylvania, Alabama, and West Virginia, all states generating more electricity than they can use and are net exporters. How does your state rank? Check here.
Over Engineered Irrigation Systems Contribute To Waste
It is not unusual to see well water, treated surface water or surface water in a settling basin pumped to high pressure to pass through a filter then into a micro irrigation system. Jain Irrigation Inc currently manufactures Turbo Tape, a drip irrigation product that in many applications requires less filtration or possibly no filter at all. Turbo Tape is a highly engineered seamless drip tape produced with premium DOW resins. You can see an amazing video of the process here. Turbo Tape offers a set of dual filtering inlets located on each side of the emitter pathway for extra filtration. The size and design of the emitter cross-section are larger than other drip tapes. These dual filtering inlets in some applications eliminate the need for a filter reducing your energy costs as well at the expense of the filter.
The savings can be dramatic. Consider processing tomatoes for example. Running a pump with .25 GPM/100′ emitters with 12″ spacing requires 40 psi. Eliminating the filter reduces the psi requirement to 25 psi, saves energy and the cost of the filter. Typically growers save over $250 per acre giving them a competitive advantage in the marketplace.
Please remember this is not an all-inclusive application, but one you should consider and investigate. Some of the crucial factors to consider are your water source and water quality. If you are unsure reach out to your Jain dealer or Jain representative and they will walk you through the evaluation steps.
Higher energy costs are significantly impacting our lives. We need to take additional action to reduce energy consumption in the United States. One way growers can make a change is by using new drip irrigation technology. There are ways to consume energy more sustainably without going to extreme measures or substantial personal sacrifice. Making adjustments in the way we use water to grow food is practical, and a step in the right direction.