Valley Water brings back in-person tours at the Silicon Valley Advanced Water Purification Center

By Richard Santos, Valley Water Director, District 3

After a two-and-a-half-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, one of Santa Clara County’s best in-person tours is again open to the public.

I’m thrilled to announce that community members can now register for an in-person tour of the award-winning Silicon Valley Advanced Water Purification Center in San José. This tour provides guests with a firsthand look at the technology used to turn recycled wastewater into water purified to a level that meets California’s drinking standards.

Expanding our use of purified water is crucial for Santa Clara County, which is enduring its third year of drought.  Climate change will result in hotter and drier weather, leaving us with less water. That’s why it’s essential we invest in new technologies such as purified water to help ensure there’s enough water for us now and into the future.

Currently in Santa Clara County, the advanced purified water is blended with treated recycled water to enhance its quality and is used for irrigation and industrial purposes. We aim to have 10% of our water supply come from recycled and purified water.

Our agency is developing a new purification center that will increase our county’s purified water supply. Valley Water will use the purified water produced at this new facility to replenish groundwater basins in Santa Clara County and diversify our drinking water supply.

In 2019, Valley Water reached an agreement with the cities of Palo Alto and Mountain View to allow for the construction of a second regional purification center in Palo Alto. Like the one in San José, this second purification center will be owned and operated by Valley Water.

The agreement also calls for the construction of a salt-removal plant to provide higher-quality recycled water, primarily for irrigation and cooling towers. Valley Water is contributing $16 million for this facility, which will be owned and operated by the City of Palo Alto.

Eventually, purified water could be added directly into Valley Water’s treated water system, known as direct potable reuse.  While the state of California is still finalizing regulations for direct potable reuse, our agency plans to be ready to meet these regulatory standards within the next few years.

Valley Water’s Lakeisha Bryant holds up a beaker of purified water during the in-person tour on Oct. 7.

In the meantime, we are welcoming the community to visit our award-winning facility in San José.

At our first public, in-person tour since the pandemic, Valley Water tour guides welcomed about 20 people, including several local college students. Following the tour on Oct. 7, one of our guests commented that the tour was “great” and “very informative.”

Jared, an instructor at Chabot College, added that the tour “provided a lot of good, technical knowledge. They described the process in-depth and had room for a lot of questions.”

We are proud to hear this kind of feedback. Please consider taking a tour of our Silicon Valley Advanced Water Purification Center in San José. To register for an upcoming in-person tour, please visit Purewater4u.org. We have four upcoming tour dates, including:

  • Jan. 6, 2023, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
  • Jan. 14, 2023, from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.
  • Feb. 3, 2023, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
  • Feb. 11, 2023, from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.

If you are interested in a private tour for 10 or more, please email watersupplyoutreach@valleywater.org. We also have virtual tours available. Learn more at Purewater4u.org.

I understand there is often a lack of understanding about how recycled and purified water will be used to bolster our water supply. But it’s important to note that purified water is safe to drink. Earlier this year, following a series of presentations and discussions with representatives from Valley Water, the Santa Clara County Medical Association endorsed the Purified Water Project as a safe and healthy option to add to our water supply.

Remember, we are in a severe drought, so please conserve water and use it wisely. Join us in saying YES to saving water. Please visit watersavings.org to access informational resources, tools, and rebate programs.

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