Pure water is no bottleneck for Atlantic Sapphire’s ambitious farming plans in Florida.
“I’ve made a bunch of these wells. The water used here is probably 30 million years old. It’s an inexhaustible source. The water source is the size of all of Florida. There are not enough wells to take it out. We won’t run out of water!”
Lucas Scott is a hydrogeologist with Atlantic Sapphire. He does what he calls facility management at the company’s water treatment unit.
The vital water that Norwegian-owned Atlantic Sapphire extracts from the ground is stored in so-called boulder zones: caves.
“They are huge. You can drive buses through them. They go from St. Pete (St. Petersburg – in Tampa) and far offshore. We can deposit millions of gallons per year,” he says.
Scott is fully aware that his employer’s plan to produce salmon on a large scale in tropical Florida is innovative.
“It’s outstanding. Nobody has done this before. We extract and use groundwater out of one area and deposit it in another. Technically, it’s cutting-edge”, he continues.
“I came on board as a consultant. Now I’m the one who has the rubber boots on,” he chuckles.
“There is no reason why it should not work. We have the water we need. We have plenty of area. But, as with everything that’s new, nobody knows if it works,” he says, adding: “So here we are.”
51-year-old Dharma Rajeswaran is Executive Vice President of Operations, known as COO, with Atlantic Sapphire, and the man who will take care of the business at the plant. He has many years of experience with Pan Fish, Villa Organic and Marine Harvest.
“It is very exciting. When the plant is fully operational, it will have 60 employees,” he tells SalmonBusiness.
Is it like running a giant smolt plant?
“It’s not that easy. A grow-out plant for salmon is something completely different from smolt. We have experienced this in Denmark,” he responds.
You’ve been struggling in Denmark – why should it work here?
“That’s a good question. The plant in Denmark is not big enough. In Denmark, we are frustrated by the plant being too small. It adds up to high investment and low production. So now we’re building Langsand 2,” he says, adding that he’s been in Denmark a lot, checking the operations at Langsand Salmon because of his position as COO in the group.
He smiles broadly and does not hide the fact that he is looking forward to his task here.
“I had no second thoughts when Johan called. I enjoyed my spell at Steinsvik and Marine Harvest, but getting something this big is the dream.”
“I have a lot of contacts and there is a lot of equipment that needs to be in place. We buy a lot of equipment from Norway,” says Rajeswaran.