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From Toilet-to-Table: How One Wastewater Project Could Solve The Drought In California

By Nicole Caldwell

Farms have used animal manure as fertilizer since the very beginning. But Modesto, Calif., is embarking on a different mission: to sell treated, human wastewater to local farmers for their fields.

The project, set to start in December, is the state’s biggest foray into the wastewater-to-ag game—and could be what keeps struggling farmers from bankruptcy in an area devastated droughts in recent years.

The North Valley Regional Recycled Water Program aims to bring treated, human wastewater to California’s most concentrated farmland by way of the Delta-Mendota Canal; offering irrigation and fertilization solutions to 45,000 acres of farms in Ceres, Modesto, Turlock, Stanislau County, and the Del Puerto Water District.