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New state law will expedite the development of drought-proof water supplies

June 25, 2015

Gary Kremen, chair of the Santa Clara Valley Water District Board of Directors, issued the following statement regarding Governor Brown’s signing of SB 88 into law.

SAN JOSE— “The Santa Clara Valley Water District commends Governor Brown for his leadership and recognizing the urgency of the need to develop drought-proof water supplies in an expedited faction. We thank Senator Jim Beall for his leadership in the Senate and Assembly Member Nora Campos for her leadership in the Assembly for ensuring the success of this proposal. As the primary water supply management agency for Silicon Valley, this will help us build purified recycled water pipelines and related groundwater replenishment infrastructure to minimize future drought impacts.

“The water district has strongly advocated for ways to streamline the California Environmental Quality Act for recycled water projects during the drought. This will shave about a year off of our timeline to expand the production and use of purified recycled water to replenish our groundwater basins, which are showing the effects of four years of drought.

“More than 10 years ago, we began planning for the development of purified recycled water in Santa Clara County, culminating in the opening of our Silicon Valley Advanced Water Purification Center in 2014. This facility is currently producing 8 million gallons a day of purified water. While this is helping us with the current drought, we recognize the need to expedite our plan to produce up to 14.6 billion gallons of additional purified water over the next six years.

“Should the drought continue for several more years, we run a significant risk of overdrawing our groundwater basins to the point that land subsidence (sinking) could reoccur in parts of Santa Clara Valley. Subsidence can damage underground infrastructure, increase flood risks and negatively impact our economy. With this CEQA exemption, we will be able to develop new, drought-proof water supplies in time to reduce the risk of land subsidence. We do not want to find ourselves in five years, looking back and realizing that we could have halted land subsidence if we just had one more year.

“A just-released survey shows that 58 percent of Bay Area residents support adding appropriately treated recycled water to the water supply. This shows that our communities recognize that advanced water purification technologies can clean water to a very high standard, and ensures that water produced is safe.

“Recycling water is a drought-proof way to help ensure a reliable supply of water to meet local needs, independent of climate change or weather in other locations.

“The water district has a strong record of environmental stewardship. Under normal circumstances, a thorough environmental review of infrastructure projects is prudent. But this is not a normal circumstance—it’s a drought emergency. That being said, we will mitigate the environmental impacts that may arise from our purified recycled water projects.

“Using recycled water is good for our environment. The more recycled water we use, the less we have to take out of our rivers and streams.

“In many cases, recycled water is less expensive than purchased water supplies, thus it saves money.” 

Valley Water manages an integrated water resources system that includes the supply of clean, safe water, flood protection and stewardship of streams on behalf of Santa Clara County's 2 million residents. The district effectively manages 10 dams and surface water reservoirs, three water treatment plants, an advanced recycled water purification center, a state-of-the-art water quality laboratory, nearly 400 acres of groundwater recharge ponds and more than 275 miles of streams. We provide wholesale water and groundwater management services to local municipalities and private water retailers who deliver drinking water directly to homes and businesses in Santa Clara County.