As a former Valley Water engineer and current board member, I have tremendous appreciation for people who build and maintain our infrastructure. Every day, Valley Water employees manage and operate our agency’s complex and integrated water supply system, including dams, reservoirs, pipelines, levees, pump stations, treatment plants and recycled water facilities.
Much of this water supply infrastructure is close to 60 years old. That’s why Valley Water is working on several capital improvements projects to ensure each facility functions as intended. I’d like to highlight a few of the infrastructure projects currently underway.
Since 2015, Valley Water has significantly upgraded the Rinconada Water Treatment Plant to ensure it continues providing safe, clean drinking water for years to come. Valley Water is currently improving how the plant deals with sludge from the water treatment process, a project scheduled to conclude this summer.
Significant construction is still underway to ensure the Rinconada Water Treatment Plant remains a reliable source of drinking water for Santa Clara, Sunnyvale, Campbell and Mountain View. Our largest endeavor is planned later this year, when we begin to demolish the plant’s four large basins, called clarifiers, and begin constructing new facilities used to clean water.
Before we can drink water that is brought into the county through canals and pipelines from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta or collected in local reservoirs, the water must undergo an extensive treatment process. The new facilities will update the plant’s processes to align with modern-day water treatment.
When we finish all the upgrades, the Rinconada Water Treatment Plant will be able to treat 100 million gallons daily, up from 80 million gallons per day.
Valley Water is also investing in the pipelines that deliver water to homes and businesses across Santa Clara County. Our efforts include inspecting the Santa Clara Conduit, a pipeline that brings water from San Luis Reservoir into Santa Clara County, and making repairs as needed. Employees also installed state-of-the-art equipment to help us continue monitoring this pipeline’s condition.
One of our agency’s top priorities is rebuilding Anderson Dam so it can withstand a large earthquake and once again serve as our county’s largest reservoir.
Valley Water staff and contractors working on this project have made incredible progress building a new, larger outlet tunnel next to the dam. As of mid-May, our contractors excavated about 400 feet of the 1,700-foot-long tunnel. The tunnel is a crucial part of the project and will allow Valley Water to increase the rate at which it can release water during major storms or emergencies.
My fellow board members and I are committed to seeking out funding at the state and federal levels to help finance these infrastructure projects. Last April, I joined fellow board member Tony Estremera and members of our agency’s executive leadership team on a trip to Washington D.C., where we advocated for federal funding for water supply and flood protection projects in Santa Clara County.
Our board of directors also proclaimed May 21-27, 2023 as National Public Works Week, a celebration of public service workers across North America who provide and maintain the infrastructure and services collectively known as public works.
Valley Water remains committed to making smart investments in infrastructure to ensure we can meet our mission to provide safe, clean water for all communities in Santa Clara County, today and into the future.
Nai Hsueh is a member of the Valley Water board of directors and worked at the water district for three decades.