Ways to Reuse Water
The only safe water is water that is properly treated for the use intended. Using the term reclaimed water or reused water can be confusing as the quality can vary depending on the use. Treatment and monitoring always need to be appropriate to the application intended. In Santa Clara County, water reuse may be used for industrial processes, landscape irrigation, and for crops suitable for consumption.
The quality of water for the intended use may be different. It is possible that someday the water will be used for drinking purposes because the Silicon Valley Advanced Water Purification Center will produce water that is expected to match drinking water standards. It is important to realize that not all water reuse is the same because not all treatment is the same. For instance, water can be reused for:
Recycled water is ideally suited for the irrigation of plants in both the landscape and agricultural sectors. In the landscape sector, recycled water is used for the irrigation of parks, school yards, golf courses, cemeteries, commercial/industrial landscaping and road landscaping. For the agricultural sector, recycled water can be used for the irrigation of all food crops, provided it is treated to the tertiary level and disinfected, a standard met by all recycled water produced in Santa Clara County.
Recycled water can be used for a variety of industrial and commercial purposes. The most common uses of recycled water in the business sector in our county are for cooling towers, process water, boiler feed, mixing concrete, evaporative condensers, among others. Many industries, including paper manufacturers, the high-tech sector, data server farms, power plants, and construction companies (for dust suppression) use recycled water because it makes good business sense. In our neighboring counties, recycled water is used at food processing facilities, oil refineries, commercial car washes, textile mills, commercial laundries, chemical plants and metal finishers. Recycled water can also be used for flushing toilets in commercial facilities.
Santa Clara Valley Water District is exploring the many ways that this water might be used. Some communities such as Orange Country have a long history of using this water for drinking water purposes. Water of this quality has the potential to actually improve existing groundwater quality.
In fact, Orange County Water District has the world’s largest water purification system for potable reuse. Its state-of-the-art-facility can produce 70 million gallons of high-quality water every day. This is enough water for nearly 600,000 people. The water purified at the Orange County plant is the purest drinking water source available, and actually improves groundwater quality. The project has been so successful that the system is being expanded to produce 100 MGD of purified water.
Though not currently planned, Santa Clara Valley Water District may consider utilizing highly purified water such as that produced by the Silicon Valley Advanced Water Purification Center to augment drinking water supplies. This highly purified water, expected to meet all the stringent drinking water standards, could be blended with other sources of water such as reservoir water or imported water. The blended water would then be processed again at one of the district’s three water treatment plants.
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