City of Livingston Struggling with Thirsty Poultry Industry

Chicken uses approximately two-thirds of the city’s water supply.

Along with Livingston’s 3,200 residents, Foster Farms also operates in the city. The poultry giant is estimated to use between 4 and 5 million gallons a day.

While it is understood that processes using water are critical in maintaining food safety standards, Foster Farms boasts the lowest salmonella rates in the industry, Foster Farms has not released figures on how many chickens its Livingston plant processes nor the amount of water used in raising each bird.

Peter Gleick, president of the Pacific Institute, an environmental group, lodged criticism saying, “I bet that we could produce more chicken per gallon if we wanted to.”

This alludes to the state’s asking agricultural industrial water users to reduce water usage by 25%, but some regulators claim that the state’s agricultural industrial users are basically on an honor system and haven’t had their water use surveyed in over a decade. Moreover, because Foster Farms draws from Livington’s town water supplies, they are not even included in the honor system mandate.

With the City of Livingston left in between a rock and a dry place, the city has been granted a waiver to explore different conservation goals. The alternative was a 32% reduction in usage, which would have left a whopping 11 gallons per person per day after the chicken farms took what they required.

To read more on Livingston’s drought, see here.