Public tastes purified water at Silicon Valley Advanced Water Purification Center open house

For the first time, the public had the opportunity to taste a sample of the highly purified water produced at Silicon Valley Advanced Water Purification Center, which has been successfully purifying treated wastewater for more than a year.

While the public has been able to tour the state-of-the-art facility since it opened in March 2014, in partnership with the cities of San José and Santa Clara, they have not been able to taste the purified water, one of the top requests that visitors have after learning about the high-tech processes involved in purification.

At the “Taste Test Challenge” station, board members and public figures kicked off the public tasting using glasses of purified water to toast the future of a reliable, locally controlled, drought-proof drinking water supply for Santa Clara County.

Linda Leong, of SFPUC and SFBS, left, and Denise Kato, of Sunnyvale, right, taste purified water samples during an open house at the Silicon Valley Advanced Water Purification Center in San Jose, Calif., on Saturday, Oct. 24, 2015. (LiPo Ching/Bay Area News Group)

Beakers are filled with purified water for guests to sample during the open house at the Silicon Valley Advanced Water Purification Center in San Jose, Calif., on Saturday, Oct. 24, 2015. (LiPo Ching/Bay Area News Group)

The advanced purification center uses the processes of microfiltration, reverse osmosis and ultraviolet light disinfection to purify recycled wastewater. Currently, up to 8 million gallons a day is produced at the purification center and blended with recycled water before it is delivered to more than 800 South Bay Water Recycling customers for non-drinking uses, including irrigation and industrial uses.  At this time, the purified water is not being used for drinking purposes. However, the water district plans to use the purified water to replenish the county’s groundwater basins by 2022, which will help augment overall drinking water supplies with more than 14 billion gallons a year of new local water.

An added step, advanced oxidation, was used on the sample water that visitors could taste at the open house. Advanced oxidation intensifies the ultraviolet light disinfection providing an extra safeguard to the treatment process.  Adding advanced oxidation to the process ensures that the purified water meets the state’s Division of Drinking Water’s regulations for using purified water for a groundwater replenishment program. This is the process that the water district plans to employ in the near future when purified water is used to refill groundwater basins to help supplement drinking water supplies.

Board Director Nai Hsueh thanked visitors at the open house and encouraged them to continue their education and support of purified water. “This event has allowed us to showcase the important work we are doing to move forward with expanding water purification in Silicon Valley,” she said. “This is done successfully elsewhere in the state and around world, and our efforts here take advantage of proven technologies to speed up Mother Nature’s process.”

The water district held the open house to promote understanding of the purification process. Tours are offered year-round at the center, and Saturday’s open house featured tours in English as well as Spanish, Mandarin and Vietnamese, and provided an opportunity for learning and fun.

A kids’ fun zone provided educational activities to teach children about water, and featured a performance from the popular Banana Slug String Band.

The event also included a gallery showing several short videos featuring expert commentary about the benefits of water purification for potable use in Silicon Valley. The videos were produced by the Australian Water Recycling Centre of Excellence, in partnership with WateReuse Research Foundation.

Access photos, videos and handouts at http://bit.ly/1Xn5stq.

For more information or to schedule a tour of the Silicon Valley Advanced Water Purification Center, visit www.purewaterSV.org.

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Megan Barillo

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