Plan to reuse, sell wastewater picks up steam in Palo Alto

Sep 25, 2019

Touting the environmental benefits of treating and reusing wastewater, the Palo Alto City Council expressed high hopes Monday for a proposed deal with Santa Clara Valley Water that would transform local effluent into a money-making commodity.

The proposed deal, which has been in negotiations for over a year, includes two distinct elements. The first calls for Valley Water to help build a salt-removal plant near the existing Regional Water Quality Control Plant in the Baylands by paying about $16 million for the $20-million facility. By reducing salt levels in local wastewater, the plant would allow the city to greatly expand its potential to irrigate landscapes in and near the city.

Today, the city only uses about 5% of its wastewater for irrigational uses, both locally and in Mountain View. Karla Dailey, a senior resource planner in the Utilities Department, said local water reuse could potentially provide 50% of Palo Alto's water demand. That, however, would take "significant investments in treatment facilities and conveyance," she said.
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