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August 8, 2017 > Developing a drought-proof water supply

Developing a drought-proof water supply

For water agencies and residents across California, surviving the stateÕs longest drought was no stress-free feat. With no foreseeable end, five years of dismal precipitation taught us to reduce water waste to preserve our most precious resource. Equally as important, the Santa Clara Valley Water District focused on identifying reliable sources of water and made great strides in developing its purified and recycled water efforts Ð a truly drought-proof water supply.

Recycled and purified water is a local water source that doesnÕt rely on rainfall. Wastewater cleaned through multiple levels of treatment, recycled water can be purified through advanced treatment processes such as microfiltration, reverse osmosis and ultraviolet disinfection to strip out contaminants, pharmaceuticals, viruses and bacteria and produce clean, safe and drinkable water. Purified water meets or exceeds all state drinking water quality standards.

Even in improved conditions, developing this critical source of water better prepares our region to continue supporting a thriving Silicon Valley. With more than half of our regionÕs water supply imported from outside the county, bolstering recycled water production conserves drinking water supplies and reduces dependency on imported water and groundwater, which is crucial to help us weather future droughts. Currently, recycled water is used for landscaping, agricultural and industrial purposes.

The water district will soon be celebrating the completion of the Wolfe Road Recycled Water Facilities Project. The newly installed 2.5 miles of recycled water pipeline will expand recycled water distribution in the western valley, servicing the Apple Campus 2, and lays the foundation to serve potential future customers in Sunnyvale and Cupertino. Additionally, this pipeline provides a foundation for potential future opportunities to distribute purified water for groundwater replenishment in the western valley.

Furthermore, the water district is developing a strategic plan with the City of Palo Alto that will benefit much of the mid-peninsula and will evaluate recycled water expansion opportunities to service customers in Stanford, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Mountain View, East Palo Alto and Menlo Park. This plan, known as the Northwest County Recycled Water Strategic Plan, will identify and study possibilities as well as evaluate conditions to use recycled and purified water for groundwater replenishment and drinking water reuse.

As the water district lays down the track for our future, we continue building community support for this sustainable local water source. In July, we hosted Asian Community Day at the Silicon Valley Advanced Water Purification Center to continue promoting education and awareness of the benefits of purified water. Over 250 community members joined us on educational tours and purified water tastings.

Our-state-of-the-art purification center opened in 2014, the year Governor Brown declared the drought state emergency. The largest center of its kind in Norther California, the center can produce up to 8 million gallons of highly purified water a day. Since day one weÕve had a great plan for this center: to supply more drinking water to our region. There are two possibilities to do this. One is by indirect potable reuse which is replenishing our groundwater aquifers with purified water, allowing the water to naturally filter through soil and rock layers, and eventually pump it for drinking. The other is by direct potable reuse, which sends purified water directly to our drinking water system after it has been treated. Both require further evaluation and would also require us to expand our pipeline network for distribution.

The water district is currently involved in a series of local and state studies to evaluate the possibility of both methods. This spring, the water district installed monitoring wells near existing percolation ponds in Campbell to collect information on groundwater levels and soil makeup for a lab study on how purified water might affect groundwater, for a potential indirect potable reuse project in the future.

To learn more about these efforts and see the purified water process for yourself, I personally invite you to a free tour of our purification center. You can schedule your tour and learn about tasting events coming soon at

Use water wisely,

Richard P. Santos
Santa Clara Valley Water District

As always, I am available for questions or comments as your District 3 representative for the northern areas of Sunnyvale and Santa Clara; Alviso; Milpitas; and the north San Jose and Berryessa communities. Feel free to contact me at (408) 234-7707.

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