EBMUD Director John Coleman addressed members of the Danville Town Council at their Sept. 1 meeting and offered an update on the district's recycled water program.
"Recycled water is a safe, clean highly treated water supply that's suitable for many purposes," he stated. "Here in the East Bay, we use recycled water for irrigation and industrial services. It stretches our limited drinking water supplies and provides a drought-proof supply for irrigation purposes."
Coleman said that EBMUD began looking into recycled water in 1990. During the drought of the mid-'90s he said it became a part of the district's long term strategy for diversifying its water usage during a drought.
"We found as we looked into it that there were a number of uses that were perfectly suited to recycled water," he explained.
Currently, wastewater is put through a treatment plant and then put back out into the waterway. Coleman argued that instead of putting that secondary effluent back into the waterways, why not treat it and put it to an environmentally beneficial use.
Some of those uses include watering golf course, greenbelts and parks, areas that stand to lose financially in a drought when water usage is restricted.
"From an economic standpoint, on a golf course they are able to maintain their normal activities even though it's a drought. That has an economic impact. They're still bringing in golfers, it is still seeing use and making money," he said.
Currently, EBMUD is producing and using about 11 million gallons of recycled water per day. Coleman said two areas where it is being used currently are the Bridges Golf Course and the Chevron refinery.
Danville is on a list of projects for recycled water through EBMUD. A multi-phased joint project between EBMUD and the Dublin San Ramon Services District is aimed at servicing Danville, Blackhawk, San Ramon and Dublin.
The group, called DERWA (DSRSD-EBMUD-Recycled Water Authority), is currently in Phase 1 of the project. Phase 2 will bring recycled water to Crow Canyon Country Club and Canyon Lakes Golf Course, as well as the greenbelt near El Capitan. Phase 3 will bring the recycled water to a number of schools, including Creekside Elementary and Diablo Vista Middle School.
"Our goal in 2040 is to increase our recycled water to 19 million gallons per day," Coleman said.
Infrastructure is slowly being put into place to move into the next phase of the project. Coleman said that they have constructed a recycled water tank in Alamo Creek. It is currently being used for storage of potable water but once lines are connected it can be switched over to recycled.
DERWA also has a facility that can provide 5.7 million gallons per day. Coleman said that as they get more of the necessary pipeline and pumping facilities in place they will be able to get even more water out.
"When complete, this irrigation focused water supply program will deliver an annual average of 2.4 million gallons per day to EBMUD customers who had relied on drinking water supplies to irrigate golf courses, parks, common area landscaping and office complexes," he stated.
At completion, they expect to have seven pumping stations, five storage tanks and 75 miles of transmission pipelines.
Construction could start as soon as spring 2010. Coleman said EBMUD and DERWA will be working with the affected municipalities to minimize the impact of the construction work on the community.
Coleman said that they are optimistic about the use of recycled water in the Danville area and he feels that moving in this direction is one that will ultimately yield solid benefits for the area.