$700,000 to market water

The Hollister City Council has approved a resolution for a
matching grant to evaluate the marketability of recycling reclaimed
water.
The Hollister City Council has approved a resolution for a matching grant to evaluate the marketability of recycling reclaimed water.

The action was taken as part of San Benito County’s regional water recycling program identified in the Groundwater Management Plan update for the Gilroy-Hollister Groundwater Basin.

The sources of the recycled water would come from four main wastewater treatment plants: Ridgemark Estates Wastewater Treatment Facility, San Juan Bautista’s Wastewater Treatment Plant and Hollister’s Domestic and Industrial wastewater treatment plants.

The cost of the $700,000 study would be covered by a $350,000 state grant from the State Water Resources Control Board and $350,000 from the county’s Water Resource Association.

“We are hoping to identify potential reclamation uses with a market analysis of the type of things that would be feasible and what it takes to implement potential projects,” said Jim Perrine, Hollister’s utility manager. “This has been a part of the Groundwater Management Plan for the last five years.”

When and where the funds for the study had been in question. However, while working on the initial evaluations of the GMP, consultants for the San Benito County Water District came upon the funding sources.

“What came about is they found the grant funding for this type of comprehensive study,” Perrine said.

The study is expected to take about 18 to 20 months, with the initial focus on water assessment and alternative strategies. The environmental review of the project areas will take about nine months.

“The end-benefit result is to have one or more of the projects defined that can be further implemented by the member agencies,” Perrine said.

The plan is centered on a watershed-based, regional approach to incorporate water supply reliability, water quality, wastewater management and environmental factors.

“Part of this is trying to address the water balance issues,” Perrine said. “The study will identify the cost in comparison to the current practices.”

Because of poor local groundwater quality, the recycled water project would maximize the beneficial use of wastewater and minimize the percolation of poor quality water into the groundwater basin, therebye reducing the total dissolved salt levels.

Other benefits include augmenting the water supply during a dry years that are projected to have a shortfall of 58,000 acre-feet.

Some of the possible uses for reclaimed municipal wastewater include the reuse of treated water on eatable agricultural crops, as well as using it for urban landscaping in recreational areas and for golf courses.

Once the projects have been identified, the agencies will seek other grants to implement the projects.

“The most important thing about the project is it is a collaborative effort between the four agencies,” Perrine said. “It’s a cooperative venture, which this would be difficult for just one agency to implement.”

The San Benito County Water District would serve as the lead agency to implement the project.

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