Recycled water usage in South County gets boost from federal grant

100_4795 New 18-inch RWP trench install
A newly installed 18-inch raw water pipeline trench in South County.

A $1.6 million federal grant will pump more money into the Santa Clara Valley Water District’s efforts to extend recycled water service in South County.

The money from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation will aid the water district’s South Santa Clara Recycled Water Project, a partnership between the water district and the cities of Gilroy and Morgan Hill and the South County Regional Wastewater Authority (SCRWA). Specifically, the grant will fund Phases 1B and 2A of the project, which include the design and construction of about 14,500-linear-feet of recycled water pipeline in the South County recycled water system.

Emmanuel Aryee, Capital Engineering manager for the district’s Dam and Pipelines Project Delivery Unit, calls the financial boost a “very big deal” for South County recycled water users.

“For a long time, people never talked about recycled water,” he said. “Then the drought happened and that changed everything. Suddenly, we were inundated with requests for recycled water. So, this is going to help in meeting the current and future demands for use.”

Construction at the connection to the wastewater treatment plant in Gilroy operated by SCRWA should begin in 2019 and take almost two years to finish, at which time it will increase the total availability for recycled water demand from 2,000-acre-feet per year to up to 3,000. An acre-foot is roughly the amount of water two families of five will use in a year.

Director John L. Varela, chairman of the water district’s board of directors, said the award reflects the value of partnerships.

“This is an outstanding example on how communities benefit from agencies working together,” said Varela, who represents the cities of South Santa Clara County in District 1.

The Bureau awarded the grant this spring to communities in seven states totaling more than $23.6 million for water reclamation and reuse projects and studies. The city of Pasadena Water and Power Department, city of San Diego, Hi-Desert Water District, Inland Empire Utilities Agency, Padre Dam Municipal Water District, Las Virgenes Municipal Water District, Soquel Creek Water District and the Valley Center Municipal Water District round out the California awardees.

Monies come from the Title XVI Water Reclamation and Reuse program for projects that reclaim and reuse treated wastewater and naturally impaired ground or surface waters, such as a lake marred by naturally occurring, yet toxic, algal blooms.

“This funding provides essential tools for stretching limited water supplies by helping communities reclaim and reuse wastewater and impaired ground or surface waters,” Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke said.

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