We’ll go out on a limb here and say the 3-year-old Silicon Valley Advanced Water Purification Center is a big reason why more people are warming to the concept of using purified recycled water as a source of drinking water. Many people have passed through its doors, witnessing the technology, touching the equipment and on some occasions, even tasting samples of the highly purified water produced there.

It was all aimed at building comfort and understanding for a concept still considered new, but changing minds was no small feat, recalled directors for the Santa Clara Valley Water District, despite Santa Clara County being in the midst of what would turn out to be a historic drought.

“When the water district first began exploring that road, at that time, it was not an easy sell,” said board chairperson John L. Varela. “But things are better now and we have seen the public more willing to embrace the expansion of recycled water as well as developing potable reuse.”

During the regular board meeting on March 14, a brief recognition ceremony commemorated the center’s 2014 opening. Directors recognized Director Tony Estremera for his leadership as the driver behind the effort, recalling his vision to support the center and determination to push ahead in the midst of a tough economy.

“He was always the one looking for ways to get it done, whether it was having the water district apply for grants or working to secure partnerships with elected officials to get things rolling,” said Varela. “Without him, it would have been difficult to move forward.”

As Estremera unveiled a plaque that will be on display at the center, he touted the water district’s commitment to a whole new way of securing a water supply for Santa Clara County.

“This was a collective project,” said Estremera, board chairperson at the time of the center’s opening. “All over the county, there are all sorts of plants, facilities and flood control projects that we’ve built. And our actions speak for us, what we’ve done, what we’ve accomplished.”

The purification center relies on microfiltration, reverse osmosis and ultraviolet treatment to produce more than 8 million gallons a day of highly purified recycled water that can be used for landscaping, agricultural and industrial purposes. Each week, it welcomes various members of the public as part of its free tour program, providing an opportunity to learn more about how recycled water can be used, including as a potential drinking water supply.

To request a free tour of the facility, go to http://purewater4u.org/tour-schedule

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