How a Central California company is using tomatoes to create clean water

Fresh tomatoes in an undated picture.
Fresh tomatoes in an undated picture. Photo credit Getty Images

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS RADIO) – A Central California food plant is partnering with a U.K. technology company to create more than 200 million gallons of drinking water – through the use tomatoes.

Many fruits and vegetables, including tomatoes, are largely water and when companies process them for products like sauce or ketchup, that water is usually thrown away.

"We have a large volume of condensate water from our tomato products. It was not being used in a really valuable way." Greg Pruitt, CEO of Ingomar Packing Company in Los Banos, told KCBS Radio.

As a result, the company has teamed with Botanical Water Technologies (BWT) in the U.K. to connect the excess water with communities that can benefit from it – which includes many families in the Central Valley.

BWT has already been using this process of saving water from the inside of foods that are being processed in Australia.

"What we usually do is catch that evaporated condensation, and we run it through our water harvesting unit and we purify that water to create clean, environmentally safe, sustainable drinking water." Terry Paul, co-founder and CEO of BWT, said.

The tomato water will go to non-profits in the Central Valley – where many wells have already run dry – to help bring water to disadvantaged communities.

"Many people in our neighborhood, they are water deficient," Pruitt said. "They either don’t have enough, or their wells are declining or they have contaminated water."

Excess water can also be sold to other manufacturers as ingredients in products like soup.

The project, which is just getting underway now, hopes to create more than 200 million gallons of water by 2025.

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