J.R. Filanc Construction Co. - Silicon Valley Advanced Water Purification Center

For many, the idea of treating water only once might seem like enough of a contribution to make toward bettering our environment. The Santa Clara Valley Water District plans to take this process a step further with its new Silicon Valley Advanced Water Purification Center in San Jose, Calif.

According to Project Manager Tim Nguyen, the facility will take treated water from the San Jose / Santa Clara Water Pollution Control Plant and further purify it to a more advanced degree. This will be managed through the processes of microfiltration, reverse osmosis and ultraviolet disinfection.

Afterward, the purified water will be used for landscape irrigation such as golf courses, cooling of data centers, etc. “The final result is that we’re enhancing the quality of recycled water and reducing discharges of freshwater into the South San Francisco Bay, which benefits saltwater and tidal habitats,” Public Information Associate Marty Grimes says.

General contractor J.R. Filanc Construction Co. is building the $60 million facility, which will have the capacity to produce 10 million gallons of purified water daily. “It will be the largest purification center of this kind in Northern California,” Nguyen says. The plant is being constructed on a five-acre piece of land located approximately two miles from the shore of the South San Francisco Bay.

Adding to the Supply

With its new facility, the Santa Clara district will have “another tool in our toolbox,” Nguyen says. “This will supplement the district’s water supply in the inevitable event of a drought [shortage].”

Grimes adds that this technology, which has been used in Orange County, Calif., and Singa­pore, will allow the district to supplement its drinking water supply. A goal of the center is to reduce the salinity of the water by one third, which will be better for many plants and also expand the use of the purified water. According to Nguyen, an environment documentation by the city of Palo Alto, Calif., reported that recycled water used in irrigation can pose challenges for some tree species, including redwood trees. “By reducing the salinity of the water, it will be better for some irrigation services,” he says.

Right on Track

Based in San Jose, the Santa Clara Valley Water District manages a water resources system that includes the supply of clean water and flood production on behalf of 1.8 million residents. The district currently manages 10 dams and surface water reservoirs, three treatment plants, a water quality laboratory, nearly 400 acres of groundwater ponds and 275 miles of streams.

This December, Nguyen says, the district will add its fourth treatment plant. So far, “The project is approximately 65 percent complete,” he reports.

He notes that the project’s schedule has faced some technical challenges. “One issue we faced early on was coordinating the equipment,” he recalls, adding that this delayed the project by three months.

The Santa Clara Valley Water District, J.R. Filanc Construction and the membrane system manufacturer met for several days to hammer out an agreement regarding the equipment. In the end, they decided to allow for additional payments from the district to the manufacturer in exchange for a commitment from the manufacturer to deliver the equipment by a set deadline.

However, Nguyen asserts that the district is back on schedule, and has maintained open communication with all parties on the project, including the district, the contractor and its subs, and the city of San Jose. “We really are working as a team,” he states. “It’s a win-win-win situation for everyone involved.”

Not only has the Santa Clara Valley Water District maintained a strong relationship with Filanc and its vendors, but also with the city of San Jose. In addition to being the permitting agency, the city is the project’s majority stakeholder.

“They are pitching in $11 million [to this project],” Grimes says. “We’re really working together with the city to manage and develop recycled water because it’s in our interest and their interest.”

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