By Board Director Nai Hsueh, District 5 

The Santa Clara Valley Water District is making smart investments in new and innovative technologies like water recycling to make sure our water supply meets future needs. That’s why we’re proud of our role in the construction of one of Silicon Valley’s most innovative buildings yet. The ring-shaped building in Cupertino dubbed the Apple “Spaceship,” is paving the way toward sustainable operations with 100 percent renewable energy and a newly expanded network of recycled water piping. The recently opened campus’s 175 acres includes thousands of square feet in water-efficient landscaping all irrigated with recycled water. In addition, the entire campus uses recycled water in its facility restrooms and its cooling system.

Thanks to the water district’s Wolfe Road Recycled Water Facilities Project, the track for an expanded recycled water network has been laid for future potential business customers in the cities of Sunnyvale and Cupertino. The project installed 2.5 miles of recycled water pipeline underneath Wolfe Road and a pump station south of Kifer Road to increase distribution of this drought-proof water supply. This facility will help reduce dependency on imported and local potable (drinking) water by using recycled water for irrigation and for industrial purposes, like cooling towers. Recycled water is wastewater cleaned through multiple levels of treatment and is identified by purple signage and purple pipes. It is a local water source that doesn’t rely on rainfall.

One of our county’s largest recycled water pipeline projects for the water district to date, the project is also a trailblazing example of a public-private partnership for the water district. A collaboration between the water district, City of Sunnyvale, Apple Inc., and the privately owned California Water Service Company, this project is a shining example of how Silicon Valley businesses and local governments can successfully invest in our region’s infrastructure and commit to building our water resources. Both private companies contributed over a third of the total project cost, which was approximately $17.5 million. In addition, the water district and City of Sunnyvale pursued and received a grant from the California Department of Water Resources. Investing in our water infrastructure benefits not only our water supply, but also our local economy by creating jobs and sustaining businesses.

After the state’s longest drought on record, we recognize now more than ever the importance of securing our water supplies. During this period, the water district aggressively sought to expand our region’s use of recycled water, which allows us to conserve our drinking water supplies and preserve our groundwater. The water district is actively pursuing measures to boost supply of recycled water in our county to double our supply from approximately 5 to 10 percent by 2025. The Wolfe Road Recycled Water Facilities Project was a great milestone in bringing us closer to our goal.

By expanding our infrastructure, this newly installed recycled water pipeline in Sunnyvale and Cupertino allows us to increase distribution of recycled water and evaluate possibilities toward development of purified water for groundwater replenishment and drinking water reuse in the western valley. (Purified water is recycled water purified through advanced treatment processes such as microfiltration, reverse osmosis and ultraviolet disinfection to produce clean, safe and drinkable water). Providing Silicon Valley with clean, safe water is a task we take very seriously. In every project we take on, we are looking forward and pursuing opportunities to keep the world’s technology hub thriving.

The Wolfe Recycled Water Facilities Project was a cornerstone in the innovative design of the Apple Spaceship, and a key element to the water district’s recycled water expansion efforts. The water district is proud of its contribution to Apple’s newest offices and looks forward to continued partnership with businesses and partner agencies in our region to support our county’s economy.

As always, I am available for questions or comments as your District 5 representative for the cities of Cupertino and Saratoga, as well as parts of Sunnyvale, Santa Clara and West San Jose. Feel free to contact me at board@valleywater.org.

 

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