Turning tomatoes into drinking water? Ingomar Packing Company and Botanical Water Technologies team up to make it happen


LOS BANOS, Calif. (KGO) — Two companies are teaming up to respond to California’s drought by turning tomato water into drinking water.

Los Banos-based Ingomar Packing Company, a tomato processor, is partnering with Botanical Water Technologies to make this happen.

Tomatoes are made up of about 95% water.

“We capture the condensate that comes from the tomato before it makes tomato sauce or tomato paste,” said James Rees, director of impact at Botanical Water Technologies. “So we put that condensate into our process and we’re able to create sustainable, clean drinking water.”

RELATED: Could extracting water from scratch help Californians beat drought?

Although it comes from tomatoes, Rees said the water doesn’t taste the same.

“He actually has a pretty soft palette,” Reese said. “So one of the conversations we have with people in the community is ‘How do we get access to water?’ and “What does it taste like? So it’s kind of an educational piece on where this water comes from. And obviously if it’s from tomatoes, people expect it to taste like the tomato, but it’s quite delicious in taste.

The plan is for the Los Banos Ingomar site to create more than 200 million gallons of potable water per year by 2025.

RELATED: City of North Bay leads Bay Area and California in water conservation during historic drought

“We are talking to a number of bottlers who could use the water to create a new sustainable brand,” Rees said. “So instead of bottlers, beverage companies, drawing water from an aquifer at the expense of the community, they can actually use our water as a new sustainable water source and create a sustainable drink or sustainable soup – so anything that requires water as an additive, plus by providing some of that water to environmental projects, it allows communities to have better access to water from basins and aquifers.

Rees said they would work with nonprofit organizations.

“We hope we can actually get into the community and help some of these disadvantaged communities access new water sources,” Rees said.

“California is running out of water. There are a thousand dry wells in northern California. So drilling the well is no longer the solution. We really have to find other ways to find water and to allocate it to people in need.”

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