At a cost of $22.6 million, most of which is funded through a low-interest loan from the state's Clean Water State Revolving Fund, the West Bay Sanitary District has begun construction of a wastewater recycling facility on the grounds of the Sharon Heights Golf and Country Club in western Menlo Park.
When Phase 1 of the project is completed at the end of the summer in 2019, the facility will be providing the golf course with the means to replace some 400,000 gallons of Hetch-Hetchy system potable water that it uses every day with recycled water, the sanitary district said in a statement.
The recycling facility can easily produce 500,000 gallons a day and up to 900,000 gallons a day on a short-term basis, West Bay District Manager Phil Scott said.
Phase 2 of the project involves how to make use of that excess. The district is in talks with the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory as a potential customer for irrigation water and water for its cooling towers during winter months and other non-peak irrigation periods for the golf course, Scott said.
"But an agreement with (SLAC) could take some time," Scott said in an email. "Another option for Phase 2 is to look at some of the Homeowner Associations nearby to see if recycled water would fit their irrigation needs."
"This is the first public recycled water system in Menlo Park," Fran Dehn, a member of the sanitary district's governing board, said in the statement. "We're proud to implement this project, which will conserve the state's most valuable resource and benefit all of Menlo Park."
The district has also done a feasibility study for putting a treatment facility near Bedwell Bayfront Park to produce up to 1 million gallons of recycled water per day, the statement said. Another project being planned would provide recycled water for eastern Menlo Park in a partnership with Facebook.
"Investing in recycled water now can (ensure) more stable water prices and more secure water delivery in the future," Scott said.
'As green as they come'
The sanitary district provides wastewater collection and transport services to Menlo Park, Atherton and Portola Valley as well as parts of East Palo Alto, Woodside and unincorporated areas in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties.
Crews recently broke ground for the golf course recycling facility in a dedicated easement along Sand Hill Road near the northbound on-ramp at Interstate 280. In addition to that facility – which will have a "very small footprint," Scott said – a pipeline will run along Sand Hill Road, and work has begun on a pump station along Sand Hill in the vicinity of a frontage-road intersection with Oak Avenue.
Project financing includes a $5.3 million grant from the state. The golf course will repay the $17.3 million loan the district received from the state, Scott said.
The golf course's participation in the financing makes the enterprise neutral to ratepayers and will mean more potable water available in dry years, Scott said. It's not practical for the golf course to rely on well water, and the price of potable water is expected to climb "very high and very fast," he said, citing Menlo Park's Urban Water Management Plan.
The project "is as green ... as they come," Scott said. "We're treating the raw wastewater as a resource and recovering it and reusing it," he said in the email. "We're not just sending it all to the treatment plant in Redwood City, treating it and sending it out to the Bay to the fish who don't want it and never asked for it."