SAN JOSE (CBS SF/BCN) -- As California deals with another summer of drought conditions, the Santa Clara Valley Water District is looking for ways to avoid water supply issues in the future.
Water district officials announced a plan Thursday to open a water purification facility by 2028 in an effort to fortify the region's water supply during drought conditions.
The facility will allow Valley Water to purify more than 10 million gallons of water per day, enough to provide drinking water to residents and replenish the region's groundwater reserves that have been depleted by consistently dry weather in recent years.
According to Valley Water officials, purified water is already used locally for landscaping, industrial and agricultural projects.
"We've got to take that next step, we've got to go further," Valley Water CEO Rick Callender said Thursday at a briefing to announce plans for the new facility.
"We've got to be able to look at how we recharge our groundwater aquifers with advanced purified water. We've got to look at how we ensure that we can increase our drinking water supply with advanced purified water," he said.
Valley Water officials have yet to determine whether the new purification facility will be built as an expansion of the existing Silicon Valley Advanced Water Purification Center in San Jose - which already produces roughly 8 million gallons of purified water per day - or at the site of the former Los Altos Sewage Treatment Plant in Palo Alto.
Callender noted that expanding water purification will be vital to ensuring the Santa Clara Valley region has enough water in the years ahead as climate change exacerbates drought conditions along the west coast.
Collectively, the region's reservoirs are at just 12% of their total capacity, he said.
"I don't even want to think what another dry year could potentially even look like if that was to occur," Callender said.
Valley Water Board of Directors Chair Tony Estremera noted that, during the state's previous drought from 2012 to 2016, some parts of the region were pumping groundwater reserves that existed before the American Revolution.
"We are down to using a finite amount of water," Estremera said. "And the only way that we can work ourselves out of this is by reusing that water, and that's what we're trying to do here."
The new water purification facility is expected to cost roughly $600 million, according to Valley Water, and could start construction as soon as 2024.
Ultimately, Valley Water officials intend to provide upwards of 10% of Santa Clara County's water needs with recycled and purified water by the time the facility is fully operational.
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