Most people don’t think about what happens to wastewater flushed down a toilet. To satisfy inquiring minds who do, Santa Clara wastewater ends up in the San Jose-Santa Clara Regional Wastewater Facility, at 700 Los Esteros Rd. in San Jose. The plant, owned by the City of San Jose and the City of Santa Clara, serves eight local cities and treats 110 million gallons of wastewater per day. Of that about 100 million gallons of treated clean water leave the facility daily and end up in the South San Francisco Bay. About 10 million gallons go to South Bay Water Recycling for industrial and irrigation purposes.
On Wednesday, Aug. 24, associates of the Regional Wastewater Facility, representatives from San Jose and Santa Clara, and facility supporters gathered to celebrate the groundbreaking of a large-scale project, part of a $1.5 billion 10-year capital improvement program.
“This groundbreaking launches a digester processing project that is part of the $1.5 billion capital improvement program to modernize the regional wastewater facility,” said Jennie Loft, City of San Jose’s public information manager in the Environmental Services Department. “The $108 million digester processing equipment will improve operational reliability and safety as well as increase biogas production, a sustainable energy source which we use at the regional wastewater facility. It will cut down on our carbon footprint. The $108 million project is part of the $1.5 billion investment.”
Constructing the digester processing equipment is one of 33 projects planned over the next 10 years.
“We have several other large projects underway including the digester gas compressor project, emergency diesel generator project, the co-generation facility project, the blower improvement project, the headworks improvement project and the filters rehabilitation project,” Loft continued. “We are in the planning and design phases of many of these projects.”
Santa Clara City Councilmember Pat Kolstad spoke at the event, and shared that the Regional Wastewater Facility was built in 1956 and that Santa Clara became a partner to the facility in 1959.
“The treatment plant that exists today has lasted for 60 years,” Kolstad said. “There has been a lot of new technological improvements in wastewater treatments and this capital improvement program will extend the life of the facility. This new improved facility will address three major issues: one is public health, the second is environmental protection and the last is about providing economic growth through an essential governmental service. This facility offers a public service that people don’t think about, which is where their water goes when they flush their toilet or when they take a shower. It’s one of those essential things we do, but take for granted sometimes.”
Other speakers included Kerrie Romanow, Director of San Jose Environmental Services, and Rose Herrera, San Jose Vice Mayor.
On Sept. 24, the Regional Wastewater Facility will offer tours in Spanish and Vietnamese. An Oct. 29 tour will be conducted in English. Visit http://www.sjenvironment.org/RWFtours for more information.