Decades-long deal will expand recycled water to South Bay communities

Officials with three different South Bay agencies have reached a historic agreement on the vital resource of water. The decades-long deal will provide more drinkable water for residents, and give more resiliency during drought. The agreement reached on Tuesday will last until the year 2095. 

Rarely have so many officials and elected leaders stood shoulder-to-shoulder toasting with recycled water, the completion of a difficult agreement.

“There has never been a 76 year in this field before, number one. Number two, cities have different needs. Number three, water is complex,” said Valley Water board member Gary Kremen, who represents District 7. 

In the early afternoon, the board voted to approve a two-part agreement with the cities of Palo Alto and Mountain View. Under it, Valley Water will fund $16 million of a $20 million advanced recycled water treatment facility in Palo Alto. Mountain View will be able to use the treated water for irrigation, freeing up between one to three million gallons of drinking water for residents.

“That’s a big deal because water is a big deal. Having a different source of water for non-drinking water activities is critical,” said Ed Arango, a Palo Alto Public Works civil engineer. “Really save the drinking water for the essential uses that we need.”

The second part of the agreement would see about half of Palo Alto’s wastewater transferred to a Valley Water advanced water purification center for treatment. That water could then be added to the groundwater table, and eventually be used as drinking water.

"We at Valley Water are always looking for ways in which we can develop and expand recycled water and purified water in this area,” said the company's CEO Norma Camach. Added Mountain View Mayor Lisa Matichak," This also reduces the amount that we are taking from the Tuolumne and the Delta. And that will increases the amount of water for the fish and wildlife in that area, and that’s a good thing.”

The two phases will be designed and planned next year, with construction starting in 2021. Valley Water officials hope for completion in 2022, with the goal of doubling the 5 percent water reuse level in Santa Clara County to 10 percent by 2025.