The Western Recycled Water Coalition (WRWC), previously known as the Bay Area Recycled Water Coalition, has expanded its membership beyond the Bay Area to include the Delta region and Central Valley and now represents 3.2 million people. Coalition members are planning 20 new recycled water projects that would reduce the pumping of fresh water from the Delta and provide a sustainable, drought-resistant water supply for industrial, agricultural, and municipal uses. When funded and built, the projects would annually produce 82,000 acre-feet of water that does not depend on the limited and variable surface and groundwater sources used for drinking water.
The cities of Brentwood, Ceres, Modesto, Fresno, and Turlock, and the Del Puerto Water District in Patterson recently joined the coalition, which is comprised of cities, public water and wastewater treatment agencies, and an investor-owned water utility. The coalition has grown from seven members in 2008 to 21 today and is in discussions with additional potential members in California’s central coast and Sierra foothill communities, as well as in Oregon and Nevada. Other coalition members include the cities of Hayward, Mountain View, Palo Alto, Pleasanton, Redwood City, San Jose, and Sunnyvale; the Town of Yountville; and the Central Contra Costa Sanitary District, Delta Diablo Sanitation District, Dublin San Ramon Services District, Ironhouse Sanitary District, San Jose Water Company, Santa Clara Valley Water District, and Zone 7 Water Agency.
“California’s water supply crisis is an issue without boundaries. The more agencies can work together on regional solutions, the more effective we can be,” said Gary Darling, general manager of Delta Diablo Sanitation District, the lead agency for the coalition. “Coalition projects will have a significant impact on water reliability, protecting our Bay and Delta and creating a sustainable water supply for the entire region. Every drop of recycled water we produce reduces the amount of fresh water we have to withdraw from the Delta, our rivers and our groundwater.”
With one acre-foot of water equal to 325,851 gallons, the new WRWC projects represent a volume of water equivalent to the annual water needs of up to 245,000 households (or a supply equivalent to the amount of water used by the cities of Fresno and Modesto combined). The projects will use the latest in water resource recovery and recycling technology, treating wastewater to high standards that allow it to be reused for many purposes. WRWC projects will supply clean water for irrigation of parks, school grounds, and government facilities; for cooling processes for power plants, data centers in Silicon Valley, and other manufacturing facilities; for growing crops in the fertile Central Valley and grapes in the Napa Valley; and for environmental restoration.
“Clean water is an increasingly limited resource, and recycled water is the one new supply that we can rely on even in the face of decreased precipitation, dwindling snowpack, and restrictions on Delta withdrawals,” Darling said. “Water is critical for California’s economy, and construction of the WRWC projects will provide necessary water supplies and support more than 10,000 jobs.”
Collectively, coalition members are seeking a federal partnership that allows federal funds to be leveraged with local and state funds to improve the security of water supplies in the western United States for years to come.
From 2009-2012, the Bay Area Recycled Water Coalition secured $38.1 million in federal Title XVI funds, which were combined with $114 million in state and local resources to build eight recycled water projects and prepare feasibility studies for 14 more. The constructed projects now produce over 35,000 acre-feet of recycled water annually for irrigation and industry.