DriWater closes, files bankruptcy

  • PC: DriWater's Joe Paternoster holds the moisture-releasing gel that's a big hit in China--the sausage-shaped, stiff-Jello-consistency goo is buried next to plant roots and slowly releases its moisture so the plant grows without further attention to watering for the life of the gel unit, typically a 3-month period that gets the plant off to a good start.

    10/1/00: DriWater's Joe Paternoster holds the moisture-releasing gel that's turning out to be a hit in China. Slugs of goo that are the consistency of stiff Jell-o are buried next to plant roots and slowly release water. The slugs typically last for three months, which can get unattended plants off to good starts.

DriWater Inc., a 22-year-old Santa Rosa company that made slow-release gel packs for watering plants, has closed its doors after the recession cut sales to a trickle.

The company filed for Chapter 7 liquidation in Santa Rosa's bankruptcy court late last month, listing nearly $7.5 million in debt and $213,000 in assets.

"Housing was a big part of what we did," said Joseph Paternoster, DriWater's president. When housing and other development slowed, so did DriWater's business, he said.

Founded in Santa Rosa in 1990, DriWater was a pioneering green technology, Paternoster said.

"We were growing trees and saving water," he said. "Those are the technologies you want to keep alive."

The water-filled packs were made with a patented, natural gel that gradually broke down when exposed to soil. The biodegradable containers slowly released water for up 90 days.

Small packs were sold to home gardeners who used them to keep their houseplants watered while they were away on vacation.

Larger containers were used by landscapers to help establish new plantings in places where automatic irrigation wasn't available, including new developments and highway median strips.

DriWater's customers included garden shops, hardware stores, landscaping businesses and irrigation supply companies.

Government agencies and nonprofit environmental restoration groups also purchased the product, Paternoster said.

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