Seeking to spur greater use of recycled water in the region, Palo Alto, Mountain View, East Palo Alto and members of the Santa Clara Valley Water District have formed a new committee that is jointly exploring a major regional project.
The committee, chaired by Palo Alto Mayor Pat Burt, met on Tuesday in Palo Alto to discuss the latest progress toward the joint effort. At the meeting, the Joint Recycled Water Advisory Committee also welcomed its two newest members: Mountain View Councilman Lenny Siegel and East Palo Alto Mayor Donna Rutherford.
The committee also includes Palo Alto Councilman Tom DuBois and three members of the water district's board of directors: Tony Estremera, Barbara Keegan and Gary Kremen.
Though the committee is new (the Tuesday meeting was its third), collaboration between some of the cities goes back many years when it comes to recycled water.
Mountain View already uses recycled water from Palo Alto's Regional Water Quality Control Plant (RWQCP) to irrigate Shoreline Park. And in addition to Mountain View, Palo Alto's water-treatment plant also serves Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Stanford University and the East Palo Alto Sanitary District.
By forming the new committee and jointly discussing recycled-water projects, the cities hope to take this collaboration one step further. The first step for the partners is to move ahead with a feasibility study that will explore technology that would purify existing recycled water to reduce salt content. Purification systems under consideration include micro-filtration and reverse osmosis. They will then pursue another study that will consider an groundwater recharge and look at a potential expansion of recycled water use.
Some cities are already pursuing their own projects, with Mountain View in the lead. Gregg Hosfeldt, assistant Public Works director in Mountain View, said the city is looking to expand its recycled water to the Moffett Field area and, ultimately, to Sunnyvale.
Hosfeldt said his city is now discussing the potential expansion with Sunnyvale officials and the companies near the border of the two cities.
Meanwhile, Palo Alto is also exploring ways to make better use of its recycled water. A new report from the city notes that the city's treatment plant "produces high quality recycled water which is drought-proof, locally controlled non-potable water supply."
"Recycled water will help reduce Palo Alto's reliance on imported water supplies," according to the report. "The RWQCP currently produces recycled water in excess of the current demand; therefore staff is working to expand the recycled water demand and distribution system."
The city had initially planned to expand its recycled water system to south Palo Alto and Stanford Research Park, a project that has already been analyzed in an Environmental Impact Report (EIR). The council certified the environmental analysis last year, though members were cautious about proceeding with the project until other water-purification studies are further analyzed.
The new feasibility study aims to help with the decision. The water district would pay for 80 percent of the study, while Palo Alto and Mountain View would each contribute 10 percent.