Purified Water: The next frontier in recycled wastewater

Are you ready to take the plunge? With the resilience of California’s water resources in question, communities are thirsty for sustainable solutions to support growing populations and cope with climate change.  As the risk has increased, so has public awareness and acceptability for viable solutions.

The good news is water technology has advanced remarkably, and the Santa Clara Valley Water District can essentially replicate the Earth’s natural water cycle to produce recycled purified water that is both drinkable and sustainable. Such model programs have proved successful in water-insecure regions such as Singapore and Namibia, and now California is on a quest to leap forward in metropolitan areas like Orange County and Silicon Valley.

In California, recycling water for non-potable (non-drinkable) reuse for such large-scale purposes as irrigation and industrial use has been a common-sense solution for decades. There are purple signs that dot business park landscapes and golf courses outfitted with traditional recycled or purple pipe systems that denote non-potable recycled wastewater. Steps have been taken to advance the process to include water for drinking.

Defining Purified Water

Advanced water purification is a safe and reliable process that uses micro-filtration, reverse osmosis, and ultraviolet light to treat local wastewater and return it to the water supply as potable. When used for potable reuse, the water treated with advanced oxidation processes, which combines ultraviolet light with a chemical oxidant such as hydrogen peroxide, offers a powerful water treatment solution for the removal of residual organic compounds. Purifying wastewater costs less than ocean desalination (the process of removing salts and minerals from brackish water to produce water suitable for various purposes).


Polls show that nearly 90 percent of California residents asked support the non-potable use of recycled water. The biggest factor driving public acceptance of drinking recycled water is a concern for the environment; people have an appreciation for the fact that recycling water is good for rivers, streams, plants, and wildlife.

Showers to flowers: Santa Clara County leads the way

In 2014 the Santa Clara Valley Water District opened the Silicon Valley Advanced Water Purification Center that purifies wastewater to drinking water standards. Mixed with other treated water sources, the water is currently used for irrigation and industrial use. As Santa Clara County’s population approaches 2 million residents, using purified water to supplement our drinking water would be a natural extension of this process. And, as California moves forward with statewide standards, Santa Clara County serves as a model for a sustainable tomorrow.

Advanced purified water, or highly purified recycled wastewater, is the wave of the future destined to be a new sustainable and reliable water source that is drought-proof. We, the Santa Clara Valley Water District, are making sure the innovative technologies we utilize will help us meet our future water supply needs. What’s old is actually new again!

For more information, or to take a tour, contact: (408)630-3533 or info@PureWater4U.org

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