Silicon Valley Cities Drought-Proofing Water Supply with 'Direct Potable Reuse'

Recycled wastewater, or "direct potable reuse," proved successful in Orange County, and following the driest year on record in California, more cities are looking to implement water purification facilities.
Katherine Johnson / Flickr

Jo-Lynn Otto reports on the steps underway in two of the Silicon Valley’s larger cities to drought proof their water supplies by bringing wastewater treatments facilities online. To do so, Sunnyvale and San Jose have consulted with Orange County, which launched its own state-of-the-art water purification facility in 2008.

“Sunnyvale already has a system to recycle water back to the grid for landscaping and irrigation, and there are plans to eventually use the city’s treated wastewater for drinking…Officials with Sunnyvale and the Santa Clara Valley Water District (SCVWD) call it ‘drought-proof.’” The SCVWD expects to have a direct potable reuse system online fir that city within seven years.

In San Jose, a “brand new water purification facility is about to go online. The plant will capture the effluent from the city’s sewage treatment plant, which releases about 35 billion gallons of water per year into the South Bay and directs it back into municipal use. The recycled water will not be drinkable, but SCVWD officials say it will be clean. The additional treatment needed to make the water potable is just another step around the corner.” The Advanced Water Purification Center, as it is called, will “produce about eight million gallons of clean water per day by June.”

Wastewater facilities are expected to scale up across the state, enough so that “[an] effort is now underway…to draft a set of safety standards that would allow the Department of Public Health to regulate and permit the operation of direct potable reuse facilities.”

Full Story: The Drought-Proof Water Supply

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