Valley Water hopes plan to expand wastewater purification can lead Santa Clara Co. out of drought

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Could wastewater be the solution to our drought problems?

Valley Water thinks so and they are doubling down on it by expanding their North San Jose advanced water purification center and planning on building a new plant in Los Atos to produce millions of gallons of purified drinking water.

In the heart of Silicon Valley, Valley Water is technology to lead the county out of the drought.

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"I don't even want to image what the dire circumstances may look like if we continue on years after years in a drought," Valley Water CEO Rick Callender said. "I don't even know what the conservation would look like or what happens if we can't create our own water supply."

For an age-old problem like a drought, Valley Water is working on a new-age solution.

By 2028, Valley Water's plan is to produce 10 million gallons daily of purified drinking water from wastewater. It sounds crazy, but they say it can be a game changer.

In case you were wondering, it's also safe and it tastes pretty good.

Valley Water will join Monterey and Orange counties, Australia and Singapore in using this method of water purification and groundwater replenishment.

The process takes water through the steps of microfiltration, reverse osmosis and ultra violet light to create safe to drink water.

The plant in North San Jose filters 8-10 million gallons of water daily.

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With the expansion project set to complete by 2028, Valley Water's short-term goal is to produce 10 million more gallons that will help replenish aquifers and allow the county to stop outsourcing so much water.

"Right now, we're importing more than 55% of our water," Valley Water Board Chair Tony Estremera said. "Having to rely on importing water is becoming a bit stricter and more dangerous. What we need is a greater guarantee of resiliency and that's what this gives us."

Relying less on outsourcing will help bring the cost of water down.

The purified water will help meet more than 10% of the current demand by 2028 and Valley Water thinks it could possibly lead Santa Clara County out of the drought.

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"This is important," Callender said. "If we want to get out of this drought, if we want to address climate change, we have to move in this direction. We have to ensure that we're creating additional advanced purified water."

The construction of the Purified Water Project is set to start in 2024.

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