Thoroughly understanding the infrastructure advantages and limitations of a potential cultivation site is generally understood as a key prerequisite to engineering a successful operation. Among the myriad of variables, a comprehensive evaluation of all things water is among the most overlooked as well as the most loaded with hidden costs. HyperLogic deals with ironing out these complications daily, and this post should serve as a basic, commonsense primer on water-related questions that should be answered before you invest in a property.
Find out your water chemistry
The first and most important step is source water testing. A potential site’s water chemistry needs to be understood deeply and thoroughly. The presence of certain contaminants could necessitate time consuming and expensive treatment interventions. Boron at elevated concentrations, for example, is notoriously costly to completely remove. Iron and Manganese at elevated levels will damage equipment and plumbing if left untreated, introducing unexpected costs that could eventually spell disaster. If the site requires a new well – be cautious. The well will need to be completely drilled before the water can get tested. It is also important to understand seasonal fluctuations in water quality; in some cases, this could mean the difference between treatment or not, especially if a consistent water chemistry input is a priority (as is the case with many large-scale cultivation operations).
Don’t underestimate wastewater disposal costs
Another critical water resource to investigate is waste water disposal. Disposal is easily taken for granted as a “non-issue” and could potentially become a huge problem requiring maintenance intensive and expensive solutions. Most importantly, can the current on-site waste water infrastructure handle the predicted amount of waste flow? Septic/sewer/leech field, etc., all have separate regulations, permit processes, and associated costs. The financial impact of having to retrofit a site’s waste water infrastructure is not something you want to find out after you invest in a property. In some cases, it may make more sense to simply haul off waste water through a professional disposal service. Also, while new technologies have created environmentally friendly waste water treatment solutions, the closer a facility gets to “minimum liquid discharge,” the more expensive the equipment to achieve that goal will be.
Every drop counts
There are many secondary considerations concerning water as well. Maintaining irrigation equipment to circumvent breakdowns is critical. Understanding typical reoccurring costs is also extremely important. Low overhead, cost cutting techniques like reusing condensate water generated by HVAC systems can help boost the bottom line if purified water is a cost concern. *
*While close to pure, condensate water should always be filtered for organic compounds, dust and heavy metals prior to being used for irrigation.