Project: Recycled water
Jurisdiction: Redwood City, Calif.
Agency: Redwood City/South Bayside System Authority
Vendor: San Francisco-based Kennedy/Jenks Consultants
Date: June 2007
Cost: $80 million
Redwood City, Calif., began delivering recycled wastewater to 25 businesses and city-owned sites this summer to use for landscape irrigation, industrial processes, commercial cooling, industrial laundry and toilet flushing. The service is the first phase of a program that eventually will deliver recycled wastewater to businesses throughout the eastern portion of the city.
Redwood City began a two-year trial program with the South Bayside System Authority (SBSA) in 2000 to use recycled wastewater to irrigate city-owned medians, lawns at an apartment building and the grounds of an office building. Pleased with the results, the Redwood City Council adopted a policy to use recycled water throughout the city for irrigation in residential areas, parks and schools. The city and state Department of Health Services were convinced of the water’s safety, and city officials said the project would drought-proof a portion of the surface water supply and eliminate some wastewater discharges in San Francisco Bay. However, a group of residents objected to the wide use of the water at residences and school playgrounds and launched a campaign to stop using recycled water.
To address residents’ concerns, the council formed a task force that included people on both sides of the issue and asked them to investigate alternatives that could similarly reduce demand on the potable water supply. After one year of meetings, the task force unanimously recommended converting some play fields to artificial turf, using local groundwater at some parks, and limiting the use of recycled water where children play, but allowing it for irrigation of other public sites and by businesses.
The city then signed an agreement with SBSA that defined each group’s role in design, construction and operations of the treatment, disinfection, storage, pumping and distribution of up to 3,200 acre-feet of treated wastewater annually. A water recycling facility was built adjacent to the SBSA facilities, and the city launched a marketing program aimed at large commercial campuses and other industrial users. The city offers landscape irrigators a 25 percent discount if they choose recycled water instead of potable water, and industrial water users save 40 percent. Initially, 25 commercial property managers and owners signed up to receive recycled water for at least five years, and that number has grown to 57 sites.
Redwood City designed and installed retrofits to connect the businesses to the recycled water system, and by June 2007, the first 30 customers began receiving the water. By 2009, when all first-phase customers are connected, the city expects to reduce its potable water use by 20 percent, and the system will serve its entire industrial section.