Perhaps no one understands the value of water better than a farmer. Most people regard water as a limitless resource, but farmers are all too familiar with its limits. So it’s fitting, then, that one of the most innovative technologies to recently enter the world of water conservation was invented not by a highly trained engineer but by a farmer with a knack for ingenuity.

In 2007, Greg Ryan, a farmer and cattle rancher for most of his life, founded the San Leandro, California–based Pasteurization Technology Group with his son Greg Ryan Jr., PTG’s current CEO. The company’s patented technology enables wastewater treatment plants to disinfect water without the use of chlorine or other chemicals, while creating enough renewable energy to power the entire facility in the process. In the water industry, which has experienced 15% revenue growth since 2007, this so-called water-energy nexus is arguably the most important and lucrative subsector. According to Scott Bryan, COO of the water start-up incubator ImagineH20, “There’s a willingness to pay for innovations that will help you conserve water and create energy.”

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