State-of-the-art water purification plant helps Silicon Valley tackle drought


SAN JOSE (KPIX) – Santa Clara Valley Water District, South Bay’s wholesale supplier, is working to revamp the image of purified wastewater and lay the groundwork for replenishing local aquifers.

Speaking at a press conference at the Silicon Valley Advanced Water Purification Center, Valley Water CEO Rick Callender spoke of the need to continue to save while developing ways to increase supply.

At the event, staff members distributed water bottles to elected officials and dignitaries with this message printed on the label: “It was wastewater #GetOverIt. “

“(Recycled water) may have an image problem, but I think once people are educated they will fully understand that if you look at the ecosystem all the water is recycled,” said Callender.

The purification center receives water from the regional San José-Santa Clara treatment plant across the street, which is pumped through a microfiltration, reverse osmosis system and passed through UV lamps.

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At this point, the water is cleaner than what can be achieved with home filtration systems, depending on the district. However, it cannot legally be considered “drinkable” until it undergoes “advanced oxidation”. The district is looking to modernize the treatment center and install the technology.

Currently, the purification center produces eight million gallons per day, the majority diverted for industrial use, landscape irrigation and agricultural crops, with the remainder being discharged into the bay.

Once deemed “potable,” it will be up to the state’s Water Resources Control Board to approve the use of the millions of gallons of purified water to recharge aquifers located in Campbell.

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Callender highlighted the district’s efforts to push the water resources council to act quickly.

“I think this is just the start of a conversation we need to have. We have to have it now, we have to finish and we have to be able to find ways to make sure that we can use advanced treated water for the water supply. I think this is just the start of a very long conversation and hopefully the State will be able to step and step on the regulatory gas pedal and figure out how to get there quickly. ”Said Callender.

The district will decide whether to expand the current water purification center on Zanker Road or build a new facility in Palo Alto. Callender said the district is exploring options to do both.

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“We are experiencing the worst drought since the 1970s. Our reservoirs are empty if climate change does not disappear. Droughts are not going to go away, ”Callender said.

As for drinking the purified sewage, Shane Kent in San Jose said it was “good.”

“It’s not like tap water or anything like that, but I don’t notice any major difference,” Kent said. “But, if I saw a fresh water bottle and something that was treated sewage water – even though they’re technically the same – I would probably choose the regular water bottle over that.” So this is a weird image problem for sure.