New Advanced Water Purification Center Opens in California


Silicon Valley Advanced Water Purification Center

The Silicon Valley Advanced Water Purification Center, which commenced operations in 2014, is the largest advanced water purification plant in Northern California.

The state-of-the-art facility takes treated wastewater that would have otherwise been discharged into the San Francisco Bay and purifies it by using three proven purification processes: microfiltration, reverse osmosis and ultraviolet light. The result is up to 8 million gallons a day of highly purified water that is expected to match California primary drinking water standards.

The $72 million purification center is a partnership between the water district and the City of San José. In addition, it has received $8.25 million from the federal American Recovery and Re-investment Act and $5.25 million from the California Department of Water Resources.

The highly purified water produced at the new purification center will be blended with the existing recycled water supply produced at the neighboring San Jose-Santa Clara Regional Wastewater Facility to enhance its quality and expand its usage.

The center will demonstrate proven technologies to produce highly purified water that can be used for a variety of purposes, including potentially expanding Silicon Valley’s future drinking water supplies.

The purification processes

The purification center uses technology similar to Mother Nature’s filtration process, but with the advantage of purifying the water more quickly. The processes used at the purification center successfully produce clean, safe drinking water throughout the world.

In this initial filtration process, treated wastewater is forced through filtration membrane modules made up of thousands of hollow fibers, similar to straws. These fibers have very fine pores in the sides that are 0.1 micron in diameter or about 1 /300th the width of human hair. As the water is drawn through the pores into the center of the fibers, solids, bacteria, protozoa and some viruses are filtered out of the water.

Reverse Osmosis
During the reverse osmosis process, water is forced under high pressure through membrane sheets with holes so small that a water molecule is almost the only substance that can pass through. The process removes constituents such as salts, viruses and most contaminants of emerging concern, such as pharmaceuticals, personal care products and pesticides.

Ultraviolet Light 
Now the water is very clean, but as a further safety back-up, the water is sent through chambers that emit strong ultraviolet light to break down any remaining trace organic compounds. Ultraviolet light is a powerful disinfection process that creates water of very high quality. The technique often sterilizes medicines, food and fruit juices.

Benefits of the project:

  • Improves recycled water quality
  • Creates a locally controlled, high quality water supply
  • Increases water reliability by providing purified water in all times, even during droughts
  • Helps reduce dependency on water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta
  • Protects the region’s groundwater supplies and quality
  • Protects the environment by reusing a precious resource
  • Reduces wastewater discharge to the San Francisco Bay and preserves the natural tidal habitat

The center will demonstrate proven technologies to produce highly purified water that can be used for various purposes, including potentially expanding Silicon Valley’s future drinking water supplies.

With the effects of climate change, population growth and long periods of drought on the horizon, we need to find additional local, sustainable water supplies. With this new purification center, the district is joining other innovative cities and water agencies that are utilizing advanced water purification technologies to purify water so that it can be used to meet the community water supply needs.

Source: The Valley Water

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