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Last Updated: Aug 27, 2014

Wastewater Plant

Every drop of water we use ends up in San Francisco Bay, and it’s the job of the Regional Water Quality Control Plant to make sure it’s treated to remove pollutants before it gets there.

The Regional Water Quality Control Plant is owned and operated by the City of Palo Alto for the communities of Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Mountain View, Palo Alto, Stanford University and the East Palo Alto Sanitary District. The Plant is an advanced treatment facility that uses gravity settling, biological treatment with microorganisms and dual media filtration to remove unwanted organic materials and toxins from the approximately 22 million gallons a day of wastewater generated by the service area’s 220,000 residents. The Plant’s treated effluent meets all of the stringent requirements for discharge to the sensitive South San Francisco Bay.

Let Us Hear From You!
We appreciate receiving comments and suggestions from the community. Please call us at 650.329.2598 if you have questions or a suggestion to help us improve our services.





Regional Water Quality Control Plant
2501 Embarcadero Way
Palo Alto, CA 94303




To contact the Watershed Protection Group and for questions regarding grease traps and restaurants, discharging wastewater, medicine disposal and our schools program call 650.329.2122.
Last Updated: Aug 5, 2014
Pollution Prevention Celebration September 17 - 27
Join us for fun classes, Baylands excursions and tours. Attend one or all. Sigh up now!
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Clean Bay Pollution Prevention Plan 2014
The Clean Bay Pollution Prevention Plan is a complete summary of the Palo Alto's Regional Water Quality Control Plants efforts on reducing pollution from entering local creeks and the San Francisco Bay.
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Cover of report

Energy/Compost Facility Consideration
This webpage is the third in a series of webpages as an Energy/Compost Facility in Palo Alto is considered.
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City of Palo Alto Water Reuse Program
The Water Reuse Program brings a reliable, sustainable and drought-proof supply of water to the South Bay and Santa Clara County. Learn more about recycled water and what is done before water travels through the purple pipes!
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Pools, Spas and Fountains
The water from your pool, spa or fountain contains contaminants that can harm our creeks and bay. If you must drain your pool, spa or fountain, learn how to do it without harming the environment.
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Look for your sanitary sewer clean-out for draining your pool.

Video of Wastewater Plant Process
View all of the steps of the Wastewater Plant process.
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Energy/Compost Feasibility Study
On April 5, 2010 the Palo Alto City Council directed staff to hire a consultant to conduct a Feasibility Study for a dry anaerobic digestion facility on the southeast side of Palo Alto's wastewater treatment plant ("Plant"). (See "April 5, 2010 City Council Meeting Results." )
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Long Range Facilities Plan Final Report
On July 2, 2012 Palo Alto City Council accepted the Long Range Facilities Plan and the final report was issued in October 2012.
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Compost Blue Ribbon Task Force Follow-up
The anticipated closure of the Palo Alto's Compost Facility in 2012 triggered the formation of a Compost Blue Ribbon Task Force.
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Greenlight Film Festival and Fashion Show
Details on the 2014 Greenlight Film and Fashion Festival are available here. Watch for information on the 2015 Festival coming later in the year!
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2014 Greenlight Call for Entries

Water Quality Treatment Plant Tours
Tours of the Palo Alto Wastewater Plant are a popular educational tool used by schools, youth groups, and businesses. Visit the newly landscaped Plant grounds and then enjoy the beautiful enhanced bike path along Embarcadero Road.
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Wastewater Long Range Facilities Planning
Information about the Wastewater Long Range Facilities Plan, including goals, meetings, maps and policies is located here. Extensive public outreach and notification was given throughout the process.
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Linda Gass Artwork

Palo Altans Protecting the Planet---2013 Update
Celebrate the Earth all the time! See the community's progress on our Climate Protection Plan and find links to events, programs and services you can take advantage of now!
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2010 RWQCP Master Planning
Palo Alto Regional Water Quality Control Plant Master Planning (2010)
Membership approval report from City Manager's office, meeting date 12/10/12
Revision Date: 12/6/2012
Revision Date: 4/17/2014
Revision Date: 6/19/2012
Revision Date: 11/19/2012
Revision Date: 11/19/2012
Revision Date: 11/19/2012
Revision Date: 11/19/2012
Revision Date: 11/19/2012
Revision Date: 6/19/2012
Revision Date: 6/19/2012
Revision Date: 6/19/2012
Revision Date: 6/19/2012
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Revision Date: 6/19/2012
Revision Date: 6/19/2012
Goals, Long Range, RWQCP
Revision Date: 5/9/2011
Revision Date: 8/4/2011
Revision Date: 4/17/2014
Current brochure used for wastewater plant tours and classroom presentations. Updated equipment brochure will replace this one eventually.
Revision Date: 8/4/2011
Long Term Goals Study Reports
NPDES Permit For Discharge to San Francisco Bay
Revision Date: 6/1/2009
RWQCP Historical Pollutant Loadings and Removals
View charts showing influent and effluent annual average BOD, ammonia, conductivity, and flow data dating back to 1988.
Revision Date: 4/5/2010
Agreements between the RWQCP partners allocate the plant's hydraulic capacity to the partner cities and agencies. View charts comparing the 2009 partner flow rates with annual average and dry weather flow allocations.
Revision Date: 6/23/2010
Charges for the RWQCP partners are based on wastewater flow and ammonia, chemical oxygen demand, and suspended solids concentrations. View charts of trunkline and influent data from 1995 through 2009.
Revision Date: 5/3/2010