Visitors who tour the Silicon Valley Advanced Purification Center in Alviso get a firsthand look at the technology used to turn recycled wastewater into water purified to a level that meets California’s drinking standards.
At the end of the tour, guests receive a sample of wastewater-turned-purified-drinking-water. Time and again, the Valley Water tour guides hear the same message: This water is as good, if not better, than people’s current drinking water.
Although water purified at the Silicon Valley Advanced Purification Center is not currently part of Santa Clara County’s supply of drinking water, the goal is to make that a reality within the next decade or so. The Santa Clara Valley Water District, now known as Valley Water, plans to produce up to 24,000 acre-feet per year (nearly 8 billion gallons) of wastewater-turned-purified-drinking-water by 2028.
That’s enough water to serve 48,000 households annually. That additional 24,000 acre-feet per year of purified drinking water, in addition to our current supply of recycled water, would meet more than 10 percent of Santa Clara County’s water supply.
To help us meet our goal, Valley Water has partnered with the cities of Mountain View and Palo Alto to expand both recycling and advanced purified water efforts. By voting to join with these cities in a 76-year agreement, Valley Water has secured an increased future supply of safe, clean water that will be reliable, drought-resistant and locally controlled.
Water reuse helps reduce our dependence on imported water supplies and helps protect our environment by providing a sustainable and renewable source of water. The more recycled water we use, the less we take out of our rivers and streams.
The partnership will allow for the construction of a second regional purification center that will provide advanced purified water for future drinking water supplies. The second purification center, like the one in Alviso, will be owned and operated by Valley Water and could be as much as 2.5 times larger than the first.
The agreement also calls for the construction of a $20 million salt-removal plant to provide higher-quality recycled water, primarily for irrigation and cooling towers. The new salt-removal plant will be built at the Regional Water Quality Control Plant in Palo Alto.
Currently, the Regional Water Quality Control Plant treats just 4% of wastewater for nonpotable reuse and sends approximately 96% into the San Francisco Bay. The amount of wastewater treated and reused will increase dramatically by allowing for the construction of a salt-removal facility and an advanced purification center.
As chairman of Valley Water’s Joint Recycled Water Advisory Committee, I have been a longtime advocate for exploring the use of recycled water to augment the county’s drinking water supply.
We know water demands in the county will continue to grow as our population grows. At the same time, our water resources remain threatened by climate change and a deteriorating San Joaquin-Sacramento Delta, the source of approximately 40% of water used in Santa Clara County.
It’s important to note that imported water is still a critical component of our water supply picture, as is recycled and purified water. We need multiple water sources to meet growing demands of the future.
I invite local residents to take a tour of the Silicon Valley Advanced Water Purification Center and taste a sample of advanced purified water. It’s the wave of the future. Email me and I will arrange a tour.