East Bay recycled water pipeline helps landscaping projects to save drinking water

SAN RAMON, Calif. (KTVU) - According to representatives from East Bay Municipal Utility District, 400,000 gallons of drinkable water a day will be saved thanks to a new recycled water pipeline.

On Alcosta Blvd. near Crow Canyon Road in San Ramon, construction crews lowered a 200 pound metal valve into the ground.

They're building a 3.5 mile long pipeline extension, to bring recycled water to 40 commercial and industrial customers in San Ramon and Danville.

"We'll be able to bring recycled water to large landscape customers who are otherwise currently using drinking water for irrigation," said Linda Hu, Recycled Water Program Manager with EBMUD.

The purple-colored pipe will carry recycled water to commercial customers, including Bishop Ranch Business Park, Crow Canyon Country Club and San Ramon and Danville city parks.

"This is exactly what recycled water is meant for - to preserve drinking water during the drought," Hu said.

Recycled water is treated wastewater. It's safe for landscaping, but not for drinking. If it wasn't used for irrigation, it would be pumped and discharged into the San Francisco Bay from the water treatment facility in Pleasanton.

"It's a local resource that's sustainable, that we can actually use," Hu said.

San Ramon's Central Park is one of the places that will tap into the recycled water pipeline. Park-goers were pleased to hear about the project.

"I'd much rather have it go to the quality of life here, than be pumped out into the Bay," said San Ramon resident, Christina Burnside.

The cost of the San Ramon recycled water pipeline project is $5.5 million. $2 million is paid for through a California state grant for drought-relief projects. EBMUD is paying for the rest. That makes EBMUD customers like Tarie Wolf, a little apprehensive.

"The common person who's not the golfer and doesn't enjoy the green golf course, why should they pay for this?" Wolf said.

But Hu said there is a mutual benefit for all rate-payers. The recycled water used to irrigate these landscapes will save 400,000 gallons of valuable drinkable water. Hu said that's enough potable water to sustain 1,600 households for an entire year.

The San Ramon pipeline is not the only recycled water construction project going on.

Dublin San Ramon Services District, the water utility that serves Dublin, Pleasanton and the Dougherty Valley area of San Ramon, is building three miles of recycled water pipeline west of Highway 680, along Amador Valley Road and San Ramon Valley Blvd in Dublin.

In the fall, EBMUD will begin construction on a recycled water pipeline in Emeryville, from IKEA along Shellmound and Christie Ave. all the way up to Berkeley's Aquatic Park.

Hu said future pipeline extension plans may allow Aquatic Park and commercial customers in Berkeley and Albany use recycled water.

The San Ramon recycled water pipeline expansion is expected to be complete by early next year.

Hu said nearby Iron Horse Middle School will be able to tap into it and use recycled water on its fields by this fall. San Ramon park officials said Central Park and other parts of the city will be able to hook up to the recycled water pipeline 12 to 24 months from now.