gmhTODAY 14 gmhToday May June 2017 - Page 15

Water district officials took Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren and a representative from Senator Dianne Feinstein’s office to see Anderson Dam and visit families whose homes had suffered flood damage. “We’ve made our district’s needs for emergency funding support known, and our state and federal officials expressed their willingness to help,” Varela said. In early March, the water district approved reallocation of contract funds and services, supporting the City of San Jose and the San Jose Conservation Corps in their response to the health and safety needs in the area impacted by flooding. We’re not alone in this regard. The Public Policy Institute of California estimates an annual funding gap of as much as $1 billion for the state’s flood management needs, with various water agencies looking to improve flood management practices, adapt to climate change, and fund flood infrastructure projects. PURIFIED WATER IS HERE “The only way to ensure water in perpetuity is through innovative and expanded water treatment and recycling programs,” Varela said. Periodically, the water district hosts tours of the Silicon Valley Advanced Water Purification Center, the largest facility of its kind in Northern California. The facility takes treated wastewater that would otherwise be discharged into the San Francisco Bay and purifies it to near-distilled quality. The water goes through a three-step process of microfiltration, reverse osmosis, and ultraviolet disinfection that mimics Mother Nature only it’s faster. Modern water purification technology has been proven effective in industrial applications as well as in emergency response scenarios. “The technology’s been around for years,” Varela said. “Even NASA’s astronauts drink recycled water during space flight.” The Silicon Valley Advanced Water Purification facility currently produces eight million gallons per day of highly purified water, which is blended with Source: Santa Clara Valley Water District other recycled water to enhance its quality for industrial and landscape uses. The facility was modeled after a similar one in Orange County that produces 100 million gallons per day to supplement groundwater supplies. SCVWD has plans to expand use of purified water to augment drinking water supplies in the future. Drawing on lessons learned at the Silicon Valley facility, it’s conceivable that a similar facility might one day be co-located with the Santa Clara Regional Wastewater Authority’s treatment plant in Gilroy, but it’s not on the drawing board yet. For South County, it could mean a larger reliable supply of water in dry years. Visit OUR WATER FUTURE The water district is currently updating its water supply master plan through the year 2040. New options are being explored for expanded water storage, recycling, purifi cation, storm water capture, and more. According to Varela, the water district is studying the feasibility of using Pacheco Reservoir to store water piped in from San Luis Reservoir in wet winters. This water could supplement South County’s water needs during a drought. GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN MAY/JUNE 2017 Another opportunity relates to Lake Shasta, the largest single reservoir in California with a volume of 4,552,000 acre feet. Shasta flows into the Sacramento River sending fresh clean water south. “There’s no need to pump it,” Varela said, “just to build the pipeline to transport it.” However, environmental groups and Native Americans have expressed concerns about negative impacts of expanding Shasta, and cost is another issue. Varela also noted that plans are on the drawing board to build the Sites Reservoir, a proposed offstream reservoir in the Sacramento Valley that would capture winter floodwaters from the Sacramento River, diverting the water upstream of the Delta and pumping it into an artificial lake located west of Colusa. “Of course, that’s probably still twenty years into the future,” he added. Varela talked about opportunities to “bank water” through partnerships with other water agencies. For example, the Contra Costa County Water District is planning to expand the Los Vaqueros Reservoir to a capacity of 275,000 acre feet. SCVWD has committed some funds for initial planning but has made no partnership commitment as yet. Another opportunity is being explored in the Bakersfield area. 15