News Details

City of Palo Alto Water Reuse Program

A Drought-Proof Water Supply
The Regional Water Quality Control Plant Water Reuse Program has historically brought a reliable, sustainable and drought-proof supply of water to the South Bay and Santa Clara County. The treated water is suitable for landscape irrigation, commercial and industrial use and habitat restoration. This program serves the cities of East Palo Alto, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Mountain View, Palo Alto and Stanford. To date over 10 billion gallons have been reused since 1980! (Which equals the amount of water used by approximately 2,500 families of five per year for the past 23 years)

The Water Reuse Program Protects Human Health
RWQCP Water Reuse Program meets and exceeds standards set by the California Department of Health Services (DHS). DHS has strict water quality criteria for recycled water. DHS has concluded that water meeting those criteria is safe for a variety of uses, including landscape irrigation.

"Recycled water is safe, practical, and very necessary in these times of diminishing water resources."
Dr. Cindy Russell
Santa Clara County Medical Association
Chair, Environmental Health Community

The RWQCP Program water meets or exceeds all the criteria, and employs additional precautions to minimize human contact with the water. Precautions include:

  • Advisory signs prominently posted at each facility entrance.
  • Irrigation systems designed to minimize overspray, runoff, and ponding.
  • No cross-connections are allowed between the recycled water pipes and any other water system. Recycled water pipes installed after 1993 are identified by purple-coded color and labeled with the words "RECYCLED WATER - DO NOT DRINK."
  • No hose connectors are allowed on pipes that are accessible by the public.
  • Spray, mist, or runoff is not allowed to enter outdoor eating areas, drinking fountains, dwellings, or food handling facilities.
Contaminants that are not removed from the water: There are microcontaminants found in reclaimed water, including persistent organic compounds. Due to concerns about the existence of such compounds in reclaimed water, Program staff monitor research regarding treatment technologies, mechanisms of human exposure, and health risk assessments to ensure that reuse practices protect human health. Meanwhile, the use of recycled water for landscape and industrial purposes is not a direct exposure route for these compounds to humans, because significant quantities of reclaimed water are not ingested.

Mountain View Pipeline Extension Project
The RWQCP Water Reuse Program is in the midst of a new task. The goal is to replace an existing deteriorating pipeline to Shoreline Golf Course and to extend the pipeline to the Mountain View-Moffett area. The upgraded pipeline will ensure a sustainable water supply for landscape irrigation.

The pipeline replacement helps fulfill RWQCP permit requirements. To mitigate the discharge of treated wastewater to San Francisco Bay, the RWQCP is required to operate and maintain the Water Reuse Program. Later, service to Shoreline Golf Course was interrupted due to a leaking pipeline. Therefore, in order to fulfill permit obligations, the RWQCP must restore the golf course connection.

To minimize costs, the RWQCP secured State funding for the current planning phase of this project. In order to be eligible for State funding for the design and construction, the planning phase must be complete by February 2004.

Last Updated June 25, 2014