We found that a small number of factors dominate the profitability of water recycling. First, producers need to build a pond or regrade land for better water flow. Second, construction activities are so expensive that they tend to make the investment unprofitable. Third, if municipal water is the water source, it is so expensive per gallon that recycling will be cost effective in many of these cases. Fourth, recycling investments are less likely to be profitable on smaller operations due to economies of scale if considerable capital costs are required for considerable earth moving such as pond construction and a new well. Producers who already have a suitable pond and are already considering drilling a well might receive positive gains from recycling. Recruiting local, small growers was a major challenge, similar to that faced by the EQIP program itself, so we have relied heavily on literature to develop our model. The small technical literature on the financial costs and benefits of water recycling has grown in quantity and quality since we made our own contribution to this literature in 2015. While smaller operators have the largest impact on the Cohansey watershed in the aggregate, they are, cautious about innovations and investments and are wary of government programs that provide funds, with the inevitable strings attached. Stresses about labor availability occupy operators’ time.
We created flowcharts for all components of the decision making took and have programmed the regulatory risk component of the software tool. Here is the link to the Rutgers’ Water Recycling Investment Tool: https://tessera.rutgers.edu/recycle-flowchart/.