City looks to tap into the value of wastewater

The city is now rethinking how it uses its wastewater, with the goal of converting it from a burden to a resource.
The city’s Regional Water Quality Control Plant, which serves Palo Alto, the East Palo Alto Sanitary District, Mountain View, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills and Stanford University, treated about 7.5 billion gallons of wastewater in 2017, of which 97 percent was dumped into the San Francisco Bay.
Building a small plant on the west side of the regional water plant site would address that concern, said Phil Bobel, assistant director at Public Works.
Such a plant could take up to 10 years to plan out and construct, Bobel said, and it would require both a deal with the water district and — because the new water plant would have to occupy a parkland site — it would need the approval of Palo Alto voters.
Under the latter option, treated water would be shipped from Palo Alto Baylands to the advanced-treatment plant further south.
Both Palo Alto and the water district have representatives on the Joint Recycled Water Advisory Committee, which also includes officials from Palo Alto, East Palo Alto and Mountain View.
"We know from our planning that we have additional needs in 2050 and beyond that can’t be directly served by imported water.
Bobel said he expects the agreement with the water district to cover a period of about 40 years, a period that several council members suggested was too long.
Drekmeier, policy director for Tuolumne River Trust, made the case for "advanced purified water."
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