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Cannabis cultivation business reducing, reusing water to improve sustainability

A South Portland business is doing things differently to save money on its water bill by improving sustainability practices.

SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine — High Tide Organic Cannabis in South Portland is trying to better the environment. 

Skip Sullivan is the cofounder of High Tide Organic. He started from scratch on a much smaller scale grow operation in 2017.

In March 2020, he began to build the growth operation he has now in South Portland. 

"We wanted to, from the very beginning of the company, make sustainability into the DNA of the business as we grew," Sullivan said.

Skip said one of the downsides of the cannabis industry is the generally large carbon footprint. He is focused on using the company's water more wisely. 

"We designed an irrigation system that would both reduce water use at the front end and also reclaim that water to be reused to feed the plants," Sullivan said. 

He is able to do that by tapping into the plant's natural ability.

"Instead of watering the entire room, which at this scale, is what you would have to do, the irrigation system is giving the plants what they need, when they need it, rather than using hundreds of gallons of water all at once. They [plants] are essentially sipping," Sullivan said.

His efforts to create environmentally-friendly services are getting noticed. South Portland gave High Tide Organic the city's sustainability award for 2022.

Bill Mann, the Economic Development Director for South Portland said, "Skip is a very bright guy, who knows a lot about a lot of different things. In terms of putting these sustainable practices in place, he's really researched it and done a great job," 

"About 70 percent of the water we put into the beds, we are getting back through the air. Since we have been in operation, our highest water bill has been $87, which we are proud of to be able to keep our water and resource consumption that low," Sullivan said.

The irrigation system is one of many organic practices that Skip has put into effect. 

He's not stopping there, and he hopes to install solar-powered roofing to lower electricity costs in the near future. 

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