Tulare Irrigation Drain Water Treatment and Recovery

Tulare, CA


The purpose of this project was to expand the water resources available for supply in California by reclaiming farm wastewaters, including drain water. In order to make the project viable, toxic selenium needed to be removed to prevent inorganic mineral waste brines from the desalination process from impacting waterfowl in evaporation basins. PACE conducted over 2 years of research, piloting, and demonstration scale work on the selenium and desalination aspects of the system and developed preliminary construction documents for full-scale design. Different biological attachment media and post-treatment oxidation were also evaluated. The project objectives for the drain water recovery project were:


  1. To reuse the otherwise unusable agricultural drain water as a source for potable and non-potable water, such as irrigation water and cooling water
  2. To generate useable byproducts from the dissolved minerals present in the feed source
  3. To reduce the exposure to selenium and arsenic of waterfowl and other aquatic species


This project was one of the first to utilize agricultural runoff as a viable, profitable, and environmentally safe alternative water resource by coupling innovative design with the most current technology.


Key Features:

  • Advanced customized water treatment system for highly contaminated runoff source
  • Extensive laboratory testing and analysis
  • Separate unit treatment processes for each target constituent
  • Multi-stage treatment system with specific unit processes for pollutant removal
  • Mechanical and biological treatment
  • Automated Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) controls with remote access

Tulare Lake Drainage District

Advanced Water Quality / Piloting, Instrumentation & Controls