Monday, February 22, 2010

Santa Clara Valley Aims to Recycle More Water

Expanded use of recycled water on tap for Santa Clara County
Paul Rogers, San Jose Mercury News, February 22, 2009

The Santa Clara Valley Water District (SCVWD) will vote on a plan today to build a new $52 million recycled water facility at the San Jose-Santa Clara Water Pollution Control Plant in Alviso that will convert sewage water to high-quality water, producing up to 8 million gallons a day.

The water will be suitable for a wide variety of industrial and irrigation uses, such as watering golf course greens, or redwood trees, which can be sensitive to recycled water's higher salinity, and pure enough under state health laws to recharge aquifers used for drinking water supplies. But that use is not being considered at today's meeting.

"We're not in a hurry to do it. We want to make sure it's what the community wants. We'd need five to 10 years of study," said Keith Whitman, water supply manager for the SCVWD. "And we'll certainly learn from what Orange County did."

Two years ago, the Orange County Water District opened a $485 million recycled water facility using the same treatment method that the SCVWD is now pursuing. The largest such plant in the world, it turns sewage water into 70 million gallons a day of recycled water that is blended with Orange County's aquifers.

To address public squeamishness, the Orange County agency conducted nine years of public meetings and outreach, and got a long list of medical leaders to endorse the project. Other places, however, like San Diego, have seen such projects stall over public opposition.

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