A drought-proof Silicon Valley? 2 ways recycled water is helping

Thu, 2016-01-21 12:06 -- SCC Partner

Contributed by Black & Veatch

When you think California, visions of severe drought and strained water supplies are among the imagery of beaches, hundreds of miles of coastline, agriculture and sprawling urban areas.

Water cutbacks have come in response to the drought, declared a state of emergency. Water managers, residents, agriculturalists and industry have stretched conservation efforts to prepare for continued water shortages. And in Northern California, a regional, cooperative effort between the Santa Clara Valley Water District and the City of San Jose gave rise to a high-quality, drought-proof water supply.

The Silicon Valley Advanced Water Purification Center (SVAWPC), the largest project of its kind in Northern California and the first in the San Francisco Bay Area, transforms treated wastewater that would otherwise be discharged into San Francisco Bay into 8 million gallons per day of sustainable water supply, which meets the state’s primary drinking water standards. The District owns and operates the new facility, and the City operates the South Bay Water Recycling system, which includes the neighboring San Jose-Santa Clara Regional Wastewater Facility that feeds nitrified secondary effluent to the SVAWPC.

The expandable SVAWPC uses microfiltration, reverse osmosis and ultraviolet disinfection to produce highly-purified water that boosts system resiliency. The final product water is blended with another supply of recycled water, increasing recycled water treatment capacity and quality for the region while allowing for a more versatile source for use in a variety of non-potable applications, including irrigation, industry, recreation and agriculture. The facility is helping to raise awareness and support for advanced processes that render water of such high quality capable of versatile uses.

While it bolsters the supply of recycled water, the project helped the District to surge forward in its goal to meet at least 10% of county demand with recycled water by 2025. It also facilitates a shift away from imported water supplies and decreases the region’s dependence on the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. By turning more treated effluent into recycled water, this facility lessens discharges of that treated effluent into San Francisco Bay, which helps to preserve the tidal habitat.

As the District is using the facility to evaluate the possibility of using highly purified water for potable reuse, the project saves, and possibly expands, the area’s precious drinking water supplies. The new facility is expected to save approximately 800 million gallons of potable water each year, significantly mitigating pressure on existing drinking water supplies.

Approximately $5.5 million in state grants from the California Department of Water Resources and $8.25 million in federal funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act helped fund the $72 million project, which was formally opened in July 2014.

Black & Veatch served as the prime consultant for the project, providing design, membrane procurement, and construction management and operations support.