Silicon Valley Advanced Recycled Water Plant Opens

New water purification center demonstrates technology that could minimize future drought impacts

Santa Clara Valley Water District

In the midst of exceptional drought conditions, a new, locally controlled, drought-proof water source for Silicon Valley is now online. On July 18, 2014, the Santa Clara Valley Water District, in partnership with the cities of San José and Santa Clara, celebrated the grand opening of the Silicon Valley Advanced Water Purification Center.

Located in northern San José off Zanker Road, the new purification center, owned and operated by Santa Clara Valley Water District, is producing up to 8 million gal per day of purified water. It is the largest facility of its kind in Northern California.

The $72 million project began construction in November 2010. The new facility received $8.25 million from the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and $5.25 million from the California Department of Water Resources. The city of San José contributed $11 million toward the construction and provided a long-term lease for the land. The water district has funded the remainder of the project costs.

The new facility is using advanced technologies to purify water that has already undergone two levels of quality wastewater treatment, sourced from the San José-Santa Clara Regional Wastewater Facility (RWF). At the new purification center, the water goes through three additional processes—microfiltration, reverse osmosis and ultraviolet light—to produce water that is expected to match drinking water quality.

The water will be distributed via the regional “purple pipe” recycled water system, delivered by South Bay Water Recycling (SBWR), a program within the RWF, and used for industrial cooling towers, golf courses and car washes, throughout San José, Milpitas and Santa Clara. Approximately 750 customers of the SBWR program are receiving the recycled water, which has a lower level of total dissolved solids. This helps reduce chemical use and maintenance costs for industrial users, and is easier on some plant species because it reduces salt buildup.

“Growing water demand, uncertain imported water supplies, the present and recurring drought, regulatory restrictions and climate change require agencies like ours to both promote the wise use of water and find additional supplies to fill projected future water supply demands,” said Tony Estremera, chair of the Santa Clara Valley Water District Board of Directors.

Santa Clara Valley Water District

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