The Santa Clara Valley Water District, the South Bay’s wholesale water provider, is attempting to rebrand cleaned wastewater and create the basis for replenishing local aquifers. 

Valley Water CEO Rick Callender talked at a press event at the Silicon Valley Advanced Water Purification Jobs and Center about the need to maintain conserving while simultaneously developing strategies to boost supplies. 

At the event, staffers passed out bottles of water to elected officials and dignitaries with this message printed on the label: “This used to be waste water #GetOverIt.” 

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

The purification center gets its water from the San José-Santa Clara Regional Wastewater Facility, pumped via a micro-filtration, reverse-osmosis system, and UV lights across the street. 

According to the district, the water is now cleaner than what can be accomplished with household jobs and filtering equipment. However, it cannot be legally regarded as “potable” until it has undergone “advanced oxidation.” The district wants to update the purifying facility and put in the necessary technologies. 

The purification center currently produces eight million gallons per day. The majority is diverted for industrial use or irrigate landscape and crops, with the remaining being released into the bay. Once deemed “potable,” it will be up to the state Water Resources Control Board to approve the use of the millions of gallons of purified water to recharge aquifers located in Campbell.  Callender remarked on the district’s effort to nudge the water resources board into swift action. 

 “I think this is just the start of a conversation that we need to have. We need to have it now; we need to finish, and we need to find ways to make sure 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 push and put their foot on the regulatory gas pedal and figure out how to make this happen quickly,” Callender said. 

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. “We’re in the worst drought since the 70s. Our reservoirs are empty if climate change is not going away. Droughts are not going away,” Callender said. As for drinking the purified wastewater, Shane Kent in San Jose said it tasted “fine.” 

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

 Source: CBS San Francisco