On the south east edge of Visalia waste water is being treated. It's cleaned up and pumped out into nearby canals. The city hasn't been able to do much with it, but it'll be used to grow crops and replenish ground water.
"We will be transforming what was a waste into a great resource."
Kim Loeb is the city's natural resource conservation manager. The great resource, water, is also a bargaining chip. You see, the city's supply is depleting, rapidly.
"We use more water from our wells than nature can replenish."
But the treatment plant can pump out 7,000 gallons a minute. Enough to fill an average swimming pool in three minutes. It's not drinkable, but it can be used for irrigation, and that's where the deal comes. An exchange really, between the city and the Tulare Irrigation District. Paul Hendrix explains. "This is quite a bit of water from a city perspective, it'll be merging with our irrigation system to help farmers out in this area."
In return, during wet years, Visalia will get some of that water back. Loeb says, it'll eventually replenish the city's supply, and feed into plaza park and the golf course.
"That's why we made the exchange, to get the water where we need it, to benefit Visalia."
The exchange will take a few years. The city has to upgrade it's treatment plant and build a pipeline to deliver the water first. When it's done, Loeb says it'll be a model for other city's to learn from.
This water exchange could benefit up to 65,000 acres of farmland, it's expected to start in three years.