Innovative Solutions for Irrigation and Drainage Water in Agriculture

Dr. John Skardon, Founder of Tailwater Systems
Dr. John Skardon, Founder of Tailwater Systems

Our water treatment systems can solve your toughest irrigation and drainage water challenges.

We are an AgTech company based in Monterey County, CA. We design, build, and operate innovative high performance solutions for the treatment and recycling of agriculture irrigation and drainage water. We constantly seek novel and low cost pathways for solutions to nitrate and salt – the most compelling water problems facing agriculture worldwide. Where possible, we integrate living systems, bacteria and plants, into all of our designs.

Driving Innovation & Business Benefits

The mission of Tailwater Systems is to develop solutions that enable agriculture to shift to a more environmentally sustainable practice by recycling and reusing nutrients, while also enabling water reuse.

What Are Your Water Treatment Needs?

Tailwater Systems is focused exclusively on agriculture – from growing,  through processing, to distribution. Our customers are growers producing vegetables, fruit and berries, and other agricultural commodities. Customers use our systems to meet State and Federal environmental mandates but also increase yield per acre by removing contaminants from water, such as sodium and chloride, that negatively affect yield-per-acre and soil health.

Natural Pond - Nitrate Removal

Nitrate Removal

Our biological nitrate removal systems can accommodate just about any flow from 2 to 500 gallons per minute. Our systems reduce nitrate to nitrogen gas, produce no waste and have a very small footprint.

Salt Field - Chloride Removal

Chloride Removal

Our salt removal system (new in Q1 2023), can remove chloride and other salts from your irrigation water. Since many crops experience yield loss when exposed to high levels of chloride, lowering the level of this ion can improve your yield per acre.

Grass - TDS Reduction

TDS Reduction

Are you storing RO brine or drainage water on-site? On-site pond overflowing? Our hydroponic phytoremediation systems can “de-water” your brine or wastewater for less than 1 cent per gallon. This is about 20 to 25X less expensive than using hauling or evaporation.

Fog over Pond - Evaporation


Our PhytoVap unit can be configured with right plants to evaporate (using both transpiration and evaporation) very large quantities of water every day.  The operating costs consist only of a small pump to push the water through the drip emitters in the hydroponic array of specially curated plants.

Solutions & Products

Currently Tailwater Systems offers the following products to tackle your toughest irrigation and drainage water challenges.

BioTreat is a turnkey system that removes nitrate from any water source. The system employs a consortia of nitrate-reducing bacteria that converts nitrate (NO3) into harmless nitrogen gas (N2). The produced gas escapes naturally from the top of the system. The unit produces no brine or other waste. It is capable of reducing almost any concentration of nitrate in water to below 10mg/L – the national standard in the United States.

Our BioTreat systems, like all anaerobic systems, require a source of electrons (electron donor) to complete the conversion of nitrate into nitrogen gas.

Glycerin Tote Placement
Glycerin Tote Placement

YieldMax is a turnkey system that targets the removal of chloride from your irrigation or drainage water. Excess chloride in your irrigation water can damage crops. Our system employs a hybrid approach – using conventional technology to adsorb the chloride and a new proprietary adsorbent to sequester the chloride as a solid. Better still, the system is designed to leave < 100 mg/L of chloride in your irrigation water – a safe amount.

PhytoVap, a closed-loop hydroponic evaporator, is an elegant solution to your agricultural drainage and RO brine disposal and treatment problems.

Thinking about a thermal evaporator or hauling your drainage water to a 3rd party treatment facility? Our solution is a fraction (about 1/10th)of the cost of either of these solutions. Our system uses specially curated perennial plants to maximize the evapotranspiration of your drainage water or RO brine, while using the residual N-P-K-S in your drainage to fuel the growth of our plants. The system runs continuously using standard hydroponic equipment with the drainage water never touching the soil.

Concerned about high total dissolved solids (TDS)? The system also removes measurable amounts calcium, sulfate, nitrate, and other ions from the water.

Plants in a “Grow Bag”
Plants in a “Grow Bag”

Our FireWater system (new in 2023) uses off the shelf yeasts to ferment sugars to about 15% ethanol. This weak ethanol is shipped to you where a local ethanol concentrator concentrates the ethanol to 40-60% on demand for injection into the bioreactor. This approach dramatically reduces the safety risk of transporting and handling concentrated ethanol.

Interested in working with us?

The first step in engaging with our company is to tell us about your problem or business challenge. The kind of things we want to know include flow rates, concentration of chemicals you want removed (e.g. nitrate, chloride, sodium), and other information that describes the concentration of cations and anions in your water.

Next, tell us what your goals are – for example, “we need to meet the 10mg/L nitrate discharge requirement”. This step can alter the size and scope of our system. For example, in some areas, growers can remove some of the nitrate (not all) from their drainage and then pump the treated water to grass barrier strips for final NO3 removal.

The third step is a discussion about budget, time frame, and ownership.

Have questions or need help?

Please reach out if you have any questions, and we will get back to you you as quickly as possible.

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