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I Saw The Future of Water, Pouring Out On Zanker Road

Conservation? Meet Your Match, Here Comes Treated Water

With booming population growth and limited water supply, conservation has been our main means of securing reliable water for California.  Not any more. Santa Clara Valley Water District has taken a bold step into a new option of an Advanced Water Purification Center.

In November 2013, the $68M Center will take treated water and produce 8 million gallons a day of clean, purified water. Recycled water, designated in purple pipes, has been available since the 1970s for non-potable uses. This is different.

The $68M Center will take treated water and produce 8 million gallons a day of clean, purified water.

Initially, the purified water from the new plant will be mixed with recycled water, reducing the dissolved solids of recycled water, and used for irrigation and industry. The intention for this plant is to process potable water from secondary treated water, i.e., waste water that has been filtered.

Initially, the plant will produce more recycled water for non-potable uses but eventually, the water output will be for potable uses. The transition will happen after extensive public input. The purified water will be mixed with groundwater and other water sources, reducing our reliance on imported water.

Similar water purification plants already employed globally

Southern California has several plants that are coming online this year. John Stufflebean, director of Environmental Services for the City of Sunnyvale, said that his community is ready for purified water and is working hard to get their new plant up and flowing. He stressed the dependence of our economic stability on a reliable water supply. Our cycle of droughts and floods, which has been fairly well behaved for the last 80 years, has the ability to cripple our economy.

Our cycle of droughts and floods, fairly well behaved for the last 80 years, has the ability to cripple our economy.

The technology to produce purified water is similar to nature’s method, only on a faster time scale. Treated water passes through micro filtration, ultraviolet and reverse osmosis. The water is so pure it is highly reactive and corrosive, rendering only stainless steel tanks as suitable for the process.

Thanks to my dear friend, Trish, I was part of the first group to tour Silicon Valley Advanced Water Purification Center. Our group of dozen water nerds was composed mostly of professionals from the Department of Water Resources and Regional Water Quality Control Board. Hard hats, leather shoes and safety vests were required as the site is still under construction. There was true excitement and sense that this was a pivotal moment for our community. I highly recommend a tour. More info is here.

My water dream is that each house becomes its own water purification center. Yearly rainwater captured, treated, used and reused until the next season. I guess that technology is still a few years off.

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