Fill Station Remains Closed Until the Next Major Drought
Recycled water plays an important role in the community’s ability to conserve drinking water. In fact in FYE 2016, recycled water provided 24 percent of DSRSD’s water supply.
During the 2014–2015 extreme drought, the Residential Recycled Water Fill Station provided individuals the opportunity to irrigate their landscaping, saving 3 percent of the District’s total water supply. However, DSRSD’s Residential Recycled Water Fill Station is currently closed, as the Tri-Valley’s water supply has returned to pre-drought status.
History of the Residential Recycled Water Fill Station at DSRSD
|Users fill containers with recycled water at the Residential Recycled Water Fill Station.
Dublin San Ramon Services District opened the state’s first Residential Recycled Water Fill Station at its Jeffrey G. Hansen Water Recycling Plant on June 16, 2014, when California was in the midst of an extreme drought. The State Water Project, which supplies 80 percent of the Tri-Valley’s source water, informed Zone 7 Water Agency (the water wholesaler for the Tri-Valley) that no water would be available in 2014 before September (during the hot, summer months), and then they might receive 5 percent of their allotment.
Extreme Drought Inspires Start of Fill Station
Zone 7 informed its four retailers—Cal Water Company, Dublin San Ramon Services District, City of Livermore, and City of Pleasanton—and the retailers clicked into high gear, informing their customers that everyone needed to curtail water use by 25 percent, and the easiest way to do so would be to reduce outdoor irrigation by half. Of a typical household’s water use, outdoor irrigation consumes approximately 60 percent, flushing toilets 11 percent, washing clothes 9 percent, and bathing 8 percent.
Because of the extreme drought conditions, the District received regulatory approval to provide residents with recycled water for irrigation. And since it was a statewide drought, the District decided to make the water available to anyone willing to come and get it, they didn't have to be DSRSD customers. However, it cost the District $500,000 to set up and operate the Residential Recycled Water Fill Station (we set up pumping stations, hired temporary workers to staff the station and investigators to check that residents were not connecting recycled water containers to potable water systems, and managed the whole enterprise).
Why the Fill Station had to Close
|Clean Water Programs Specialist Stefanie Olson pours recycled water into a container labeled "Do Not Drink" for recycled water.
As the extreme drought conditions were ending, three major construction projects were beginning at the plant: (1) Improvements and expansion of the Jeffrey G. Hansen Water Recycling Plant, enabling it to process more recycled water; (2) Adding a fourth and final digester to process solids from the wastewater; and, (3) Relining the large influent sewer pipe so it can continue bringing wastewater to the treatment plant for another 50 years. During this construction, it was not possible to have residents at the fill station, which was a staging area for the construction projects.
Why the Fill Station has to Remain Closed
Due to the high cost and people coming from outside DSRSD’s service area to use the system, the District couldn’t justify having customers subsidize this project once the extreme statewide drought ended. In 2016, District service area residents received only 25 percent of the benefits of the Residential Recycled Water Fill Station.
Recycled water demand has grown so much that DSRSD’s large irrigation customers (sports grounds, school grounds, roadway medians, and golf courses) regularly use a large portion of available recycled water, especially during drier months. From June to August 2017, DSRSD recycled more than 90 percent of wastewater. In fact, in summer 2017, when the Residential Recycled Water Fill Station was closed, there were 10 days where every drop of wastewater was recycled and distributed to large irrigation customers via purple pipes!
When Might the Fill Station Reopen?
At its December 20, 2016, regularly scheduled meeting, the DSRSD Board directed staff to close the Residential Recycled Water Fill Station, with the caveat that it may be reopened if mandatory conservation is reinstated.
Thank you for your extraordinary conservation during the drought emergency. There are many ways to keep saving water outdoors and permanently reduce the need for irrigation. DSRSD customers must continue to comply with local and state regulations that prohibit wasteful and unreasonable uses of potable water. Currently, there are no other restrictions on using potable (drinking) water for outdoor watering in the Tri-Valley.
Updated September 2018