Irrigation Science

, Volume 36, Issue 4–5, pp 217–226 | Cite as

A cost analysis for using recycled irrigation runoff water in container nursery production: a Southern California nursery case study

  • Bruno J. L. Pitton
  • Charles R. Hall
  • Darren L. Haver
  • Sarah A. White
  • Lorence R. Oki
Original Paper


In the U.S., container plant growers use high-quality water sources which can be expensive. The use of recycled irrigation runoff water could save growers money. The objective of this study was to compare the cost of recycled irrigation water with the cost of untreated municipal water at a nursery in Southern California over multiple years. Water cost for municipal (Western) supplied water ranged from $2.26 to $2.91 per 1000 gallons (3785 L). Water capturing and recycling system construction and infrastructure costs accounted for a large portion of recycled water cost. However, water provider rebates and a Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) grant reduced total and per volume recycled water costs. Without considering rebates from water providers and a NRCS grant, the cost of recycled water was between $0.92 and $1.21 per 1000 gallons (3785 L). With consideration of rebates and the grant, the cost of recycled water ranged between $0.43 and $0.53 per 1000 gallons (3785 L). Thus, recycled water is a viable alternative to many high cost water sources and public funds facilitate adoption of recycled water for irrigation by containerized plant growers.



This work is supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, under award number 2014-51181-22372. We would like to thank Altman Plants including Ken Altman, Jim Hessler, Jerry Miller, and Javier Lopez for contributing information for this study. Western Municipal Water District staff, Mallory Gandara and Gregory Bucy, provided water meter reading and cost information. Richard Evans was instrumental in providing a thorough review of this manuscript prior to submission. We appreciate Grant Johnson’s assistance in obtaining recycled water data.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bruno J. L. Pitton
    • 1
  • Charles R. Hall
    • 2
  • Darren L. Haver
    • 3
  • Sarah A. White
    • 4
  • Lorence R. Oki
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Plant SciencesUniversity of CaliforniaDavisUSA
  2. 2.Department of Horticultural SciencesTexas A&M UniversityCollege StationUSA
  3. 3.University of California Cooperative Extension-Orange CountyIrvineUSA
  4. 4.Clemson UniversityClemsonUSA

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