Sedona urged to grow hemp with reclaimed city water

Reclaimed water is sprayed on land along SR89A across the highway form the City of Sedona’s wastewater treatment plant. A resident has suggested growing hemp as a use for the land and reclaimed water, VVN/Vyto Starinskas

Reclaimed water is sprayed on land along SR89A across the highway form the City of Sedona’s wastewater treatment plant. A resident has suggested growing hemp as a use for the land and reclaimed water, VVN/Vyto Starinskas

A Sedona resident wants the city to consider growing hemp along SR89A to take advantage of reclaimed water that is now being sprayed into the air and returned to the aquifer.

The April 9 meeting was requested by resident Pam Drake. City staff will attend, according to Marty Macurak, communications manager for the city.

Hemp is only one idea for the land to make Sedona more “a more sustainable city,” explained Drake. “We’re just on a fact-finding mission to see if it’s even feasible.”

The reclaimed water from the city’s waste-water treatment plant, several miles south of town, is currently pumped and sprayed back into the ground.

The City of Sedona is irrigating 300 acres of land and have two recharge wells for aquifer recharge, explained Roxanne Holland, wastewater manager for the City of Sedona.

Holland said Sedona produces about 420 million gallons of reclaimed water each year.  Out of that, about 30 percent can be sent to aquifer recharge. 

“In 2018, we put approximately 25 million gallons back into the aquifer,” she said.  

 “To be clear, it is not a city-sponsored meeting nor a city initiative,” said Macurak. “We are making the meeting location available as a courtesy to a resident at her request, and some members of our staff will attend, also at Ms. Drake’s request.”

The city’s spokesperson said the mayor has been invited but did know if she would attend.

Drake, in her letter to the city, said a regenerative agricultural consultant will present a Powerpoint on industrial hemp and Drake has invited a number of other officials from Yavapai County, the University of Arizona Extension Service, Yavapai College agribusiness and science technology department, Mayor Sandy Moriarty, prior Mayor Rob Adams, prior councilman Ernie Strauch and several current council members.

“The day and time are anchored and we will hopefully strive to gather up possible agricultural partners, cement partners, biodiesel partners, heating-wood chip production. Whatever and whoever can bring some ideas and input to a Science Project for Sustainable Sedona.,” Drake said in her letter to the city.

The 2018 Federal Farm Bill was signed into law and legalized industrial hemp by excluding it if from the definition of marijuana, according to the Arizona Department of Agriculture.

The work-session is scheduled in the Schnebly Room at Sedona City Hall, 1:30 p.m., April 9.

“We should bring back the growing of industrial hemp in this nation,” Drake said.

Farmers were “mandated” to grow it during WWII, she pointed out.

“George Washington grew it,” she said.

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