The drought is creating a new way for cities to make money, including selling treated wastewater for farm irrigation.
A Manteca group called Neighbors United is urging the city council to sell treated wastewater to local farmers as water sources dry up in the drought.
The City of Manteca discharges about 7 million gallons of treated wastewater daily, most of it into the San Joaquin River. Manteca would have to add another treatment step before its wastewater could be sold for crops consumed by humans.
Neighbors United President Kerry Davis says adding that final step can be costly but worth it. "There are cities that are realizing that the wastewater, as long as it's treated to a point that is very clean of salts and that is the one step that's missing as far as our city goes," Davis says.
Davis says the extra treatment cost can be paid with a government loan at one percent interest, and the wastewater could be sold for millions of dollars.
The cities of Monterey and Visalia are already selling treated wastewater to farmers and Modesto will begin soon.