Environmental Protection

Santa Clara Valley to Expand Recycled Water Efforts

On Feb. 23, the Santa Clara Valley Water District Board of Directors approved two agreements with the City of San Jose to build a new advanced water treatment facility that will produce highly purified recycled water and strengthen the integrated management of recycled water.

The new facility will divert a portion of the treated water from the San Jose/Santa Clara Water Pollution Control Plant and use advanced treatment methods to produce up to 8 million gallons per day of highly purified water, of near-distilled water quality, which will be blended into existing recycled water flows providing for more uses. Currently, the South Bay Water Recycling produces around 10 million gallons per day of recycled water for irrigation and industrial uses. The new blended water would improve the overall quality, reducing the amount of salts, minerals, and organics present in the current recycled water supply.

The blended recycled water can be used to irrigate a wider variety of landscapes, especially in poorly draining soils and is expected to attract new industrial customers for recycled water who will find that the improved water quality can reduce cooling and manufacturing costs.

The new facility would use three technologies to produce near-distilled quality water: microfiltration, reverse osmosis, and ultraviolet disinfection. The facility will be designed to allow for potential expansion in the future. While this project is being built for non-potable uses in irrigation and industry, the same technology is being used worldwide to produce highly purified water for drinking.

The design and construction would be funded by $30 million from the Water District, $8.25 million in federal stimulus funds, $3 million in state funding, and $11 million from the City of San Jose.

Currently, recycled water meets nearly 5 percent of Santa Clara County’s water demands. Recycled water is increasingly used in place of drinking water in irrigation and industry. As a water supply option for these uses, it is a reliable local source which benefits the local economy and the environment by reducing freshwater discharge to the Bay, protecting sensitive salt marsh habitat.

“I’m encouraged that we are able to forge a new partnership with San Jose that will help meet our water needs for tomorrow while creating jobs today,” said Water District Board Chair Richard Santos. “This facility is worthy of the water district’s strong support.” The new facility would be owned by the water district and built on lands owned by the City of San Jose, adjacent to the existing wastewater treatment facility.

The first agreement approved by the water district provides a 40-year lease agreement for the 5-acre parcel of land needed for the facility.

The second agreement integrates the recycled water programs of San Jose and the water district. Once approved by the city council, the entities will jointly make decisions on expansions of the recycled water system, collaborate on studies and outreach, and have the ability to leverage each other’s infrastructure for mutually beneficial purposes.

The San Jose City Council is expected to consider the agreements on March 2. If the agreements are approved by both entities, construction could start in the fall of 2010 and be completed by the summer of 2012.

The Santa Clara Valley Water District manages water resources and provides stewardship for the county’s five watersheds, including 10 reservoirs, hundreds of miles of streams and groundwater basins. The water district also provides flood protection throughout Santa Clara County.

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