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CWEA Plant of the Year: Tertiary Recycled Water

Technology and Innovation


Silicon Valley Advanced Water Purification Center

City/population served: Santa Clara County’s 2 million residents

Plant commissioned: March 2014



Average daily flow: 8 MGD

Upgrade up to 9 MGD



Microfiltration, reverse osmosis, and ultraviolet disinfection.

Recycled Water Usage

Silicon Valley Advanced Water Purification Center (SVAWPC) is designed to produce highly purified water and blend it with existing tertiary recycled water from the San Jose-Santa Clara Regional Wastewater Facility to reduce the salinity of recycled water. SVAWPC provides an alternative treatment process to the existing recycled water supply from the conventional tertiary recycled water treatment plant and demonstrates advanced water treatment’s safety and reliability.

Since opening in 2014, a total of 11.4 billion gallons of purified recycled water has been produced at SVAWPC and delivered to over 900 customers that are in the SBWR system for a wide variety of non-potable uses, including golf courses, parks, playgrounds, school properties, business parks, agricultural lands, cooling towers, and industrial processes.

Recent Projects/Improvements

In 2019, SVAWPC O&M staff performed an RO membrane replacement while maintaining service. SVAWPC staff took advantage of the low flow season by tackling one train at a time and keeping the other two trains in operation. They were able to complete all the replacement activities in-house. Staff went through a thorough cleaning of the entire system, including all the membrane vessels, end caps, O-rings, etc., to prepare for installing new membrane elements. After removing 1,680 old elements, O&M staff installed the same number of new elements in three RO trains.

Instead of disposing of old membrane elements as municipal waste at the landfill, SVAWPC staff also pursued the recycling options for the waste elements. A third-party vendor was identified to haul away all the waste membrane elements from the plant free of charge. After testing all the performance parameters, they planned to clean, recover, and resell them. The total saving of labor costs alone was close to $250,000.

Safety Highlights

All SVAWPC staff have been assigned with required safety training classes based on respective job specifications, duties, and regular tasks performed. All the safety training is monitored, tracked, and recorded through the web-based platform Self Service Training (SST), which is Valley Water’s Learning Management System (LMS) that hosts Valley Water’s eLearning(online training) as well as the calendar for Instructor-Led Training (ILT) events.


“At SVAWPC, we pride ourselves in performing maintenance in-house as much as possible. We provide on going training to O&M staff to advance the in-house knowledge and share institutional experience,” said Lei Hong, SVAWPC Operations Manager. “Some maintenance items require a more advanced analysis. For example, we also perform annual evaluation by sending membrane elements out for autopsies so that more accurate condition assessment can be achieved, which helps us in long-term replacement planning and minimize the facility downtime and the impacts to customers.”

Tertiary Recycled Water Plant of the Year Award

In 2021 the Leadership Committee introduced a new category in the Plant of the Year award section called the “Tertiary Recycled Water Plant of the Year.” This award is specifically for plants that produce tertiary recycled water. Learn more and apply at