Recycled water has been used in Santa Clara County since the 1970s for a variety of non-drinking purposes, such as landscaping, agriculture and industrial uses. Using the term reclaimed water or reused water instead of recycled water can be confusing as the quality can vary depending on the use. Treatment and monitoring always must be appropriate to the application intended. All recycled water produced in this county meets or exceeds the water quality standards set by the state for the various uses for which recycled water is approved.
Non-Potable Uses (non-drinkable)
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 irrigating parks, school yards, golf courses, cemeteries, commercial/industrial landscaping and road landscaping. For the agricultural sector, recycled water is 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. Tertiary treated water is wastewater that has been cleaned three times and is a standard within the recycled water industry.
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.
Potable Uses (drinking purposes)
One critical benefit of purified water is its use to recharge the region’s groundwater, where pure water is mixed with existing groundwater and may eventually be pumped to the District’s water treatment plants.
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.
Orange County Water District has the world’s largest water purification system for potable reuse. Its state-of-the-art-facility can produce 100 million gallons of high-quality water every day. This is enough water for nearly 850,000 people annually. The water purified at the Orange County plant is the purest drinking water available. The project has been so successful that the system is being expanded to produce 100 mgd of purified water.
Santa Clara Valley Water District plans to utilize highly purified water produced by the Silicon Valley Advanced Water Purification Center to augment drinking water supplies by adding advanced purified water to all groundwater basins or possibly surface water reservoirs. This highly purified water meets all the primary and secondary drinking water standards. The blended water would then be processed again at one of the district’s three water treatment plants.