Advanced Recycled Water at Building, Site and Regional Levels - Silicon Valley

By Marianna.Grossman on Feb 21, 2015

Net Positive Bay Area: Goal 3 - Use only local water resources by 2050

Today Sustainable Silicon Valley convened a group of representatives of corporations, cities, water agencies and experts gathered to explore ways to implement advanced water treatment technology in buildings, sites (groups of buidings) and at the regional water control plant level. Michael Flynn, a NASA researcher presented his work on combined forward and reverse osmosis systems, such as the one in operation atSustainability Base, a very green building at NASA Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley. His presentation spanned applications for homes, appliances (such as washing machines), commercial buildings, cooling towers for HVAC systems. He also described systems not connected to sanitary sewer systems, such as for forward operating bases for the military, use in develoing countries and for personal use in case of disaster or when hiking in wilderness. He also mentioned a company in Watsonville that takes briny agricultural waste water and uses it to produce a number of products for commercial sale (wallboard and various chemicals, as well as potable water). This can help address the problem of what to do with the brine from recycled water systems.

Paula Kehoe, Director of Water Resources for the San Francisco Public Utility Commission (SFPUC) presented about their work to create a permitting process that allows recycling of different types of water at the building level.

  1. rain water (falls on the roof) image of NASA Sustainability Base
  2. storm water (from sidewalks, streets and parking lots)
  3. grey water (from sinks and showers)
  4. black water (from toilets, janitorial sinks and urinals)
  5. foundation water (water that is pumped out of building basements, the source could be underground streams or high water tables

She presented many examples of projects either completed or designed in San Francisco that will be (or are now) treating and reusing one or more of these sources of water.

The facilities executives and developer asked excellent questions about how to get more information on two main areas:

  1. the engineering specifications and flow diagrams for specifying and designing water reuse systems into commercial and multi-family residential projects
  2. the permitting process to get approval from the local governments and health officials to allow such systems to be built and operated

Today's meeting showed that"if it exists, it must be possible."

All of the attendees requested a follow on meeting to explore these topics in more depth. SSV will convene the next meeting, being sure to invite public health officials and additional commercial builders to join the dialogue.

Our goal is to insure this region (andultimately all regions) are water self-sufficient as climate change becomes more severe and the hydrological cycle is more disrupted and undependable.

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