The Santa Clara Valley Water District hosted a summit Friday morning in Santa Clara, bringing together elected officials and organizations from across the Bay Area to discuss solutions to city-wide water issues. state as California experiences its third straight year of severe drought emergency.
The 2022 Water Summit focused on short and long term solutions and mitigation measures for water shortages.
Aaron Baker, water services operations manager at Valley Water, said such solutions are needed to help the region through the current drought.
For Valley Water, some of the solutions include conservation programs. The Water District is offering lawn disposal rebates in favor of low water use and environmentally friendly options, and rebates for those who irrigate with gray water diverted from the water. use of detergent. Landscaping rebates can reach up to $3,000 for residential sites and $100,000 for commercial, institutional or industrial sites, depending on water usage savings.
The Water District also offers free conservation devices to single and multi-family homes and commercial properties.
“We have programs for every home and every business in the county,” said Kirsten Struve, deputy water supply division officer for Valley Water.
The district has seen success with its conservation outreach, citing more than 1 million square feet of lawn that has been converted to more environmentally friendly and drought-friendly landscaping and that the organization now has 22 programs conservation in progress.
As the summit turned to longer-term solutions, Chris Hakes, assistant chief operating officer for dam safety and capital provision for Valley Water, discussed the Anderson Dam seismic retrofit project.
Anderson Reservoir, Valley Water’s largest groundwater recharge reservoir, is undergoing a dam tunnel project as part of a federally mandated project to bring the dam up to safety standards current. The project is expected to be completed in 2024.
After the tunnel, the project will continue into future phases which include rebuilding the embankment and replacing the spillway, keeping the area downstream of Morgan Hill safe. The project is expected to be completed by 2031 or 2032.
Ryan McCarter, the Pacheco project manager for Valley Water, also described another reservoir project that the organization says could help with water storage to alleviate shortages from a drought.
McCarter said the Pacheco Reservoir, located in southeast Santa Clara County, will be expanded and allow the county to double its storage capacity. The project will move a new dam upstream and use an existing pipeline to bring water to the area.
While the project has already received more than $500 million from the state, Valley Water continues to seek grants and partnerships to fund the expansion of the Pacheco Reservoir.
The project will allow the reservoir to hold enough water for 1.4 million people for a year, while improving habitats downstream for 10 miles.
Struve described the organization’s other major goal for long-term water solutions: purification.
The process consists of purifying the water generally discharged into the bay for reuse. Valley Water plans to expand the treatment plants, with the aim of using recycled water to cover 10% of water consumption in the coming years.
The project would involve a 20-mile pipeline connecting sewage treatment plants to other purification centers and recharge systems.
Another purification challenge? Public perception. Valley Water asked participants to express their support for the project to try to change the perception of recycled water as dirty, given the intense purification system and modern technology involved.
Other speakers at the summit also emphasized the importance of hiring workers in the water industry with diversity and inclusion in mind, including a focus on students at historically black colleges and universities through a partnership with the Silicon Valley Leadership Group.
Valley Water Chairman of the Board, John Varela, closed the summit by calling on all to spread the message that social justice, water recycling and water conservation are essential for California survive droughts.