The North Valley Regional Recycled Water Program (NVRRWP), which provides recycled water to farmers and growers served by the Del Puerto Water District in portions of Stanislaus, San Joaquin, and Merced Counties in California, received an Engineering Excellence Honor Award from the California chapters of the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC CA). The program’s planning, permitting, and implementation were managed by Woodard & Curran.The NCRRWP is a regional solution to water supply and reliability issues on the west side of California’s San Joaquin Valley by delivering recycled water to agricultural users via the Del Puerto Water District. Recycled water is also being delivered to South of Delta Wildlife Refuges, providing a critical incremental water supply to protect the Pacific Flyway. The innovative program uses a newly modified pumping plant and a new pipeline connecting the cities’ treatment facilities to the Delta-Mendota canal (DMC), from which water can be delivered for beneficial use on agricultural lands within the Del Puerto Water District (District) and to South of Delta CVPIA-designated wildlife refuges.
As District General Manager Anthea Hansen said in a letter to ACEC CA, “The project has been an unqualified success. Woodard & Curran crafted an approach that allowed it to be permitted despite the fact that no real precedent existed for this kind of project. We are now delivering recycled water to our land owners, thanks to the creativity, organization, collaborative spirit, and hard work of Woodard & Curran and the entire project team.”
The District provides service to over 45,000 acres of highly productive farmland, and the farmers who need a reliable source of water to sustain their businesses. Using a collaborative approach that took into consideration vastly differing goals of recycled water producers, agricultural water users, and environmental resource agencies, the District and the two cities engaged stakeholders, regulatory agencies, and water management agencies to devise a program that brought all of their interests together for the successful development of a major new water supply for the west-side of the San Joaquin Valley.
The project is the first of its kind, and required creative planning and permitting, and persuasive work with regulators and other stakeholders, particularly with respect to use of the Delta-Mendota Canal for recycled water delivery and its designation as non-potable water reuse. Had the program not been able to use the Delta-Mendota Canal or it have been deemed a potable reuse project, it would likely not have been able to proceed due to the expense of the additional delivery pipelines and treatment that would have been necessary.
The economic benefits of the NVRRWP are substantial in that it will provide a reliable water supply for food production on thousands of acres of farmland, meeting at least one quarter of the annual supply requirement of the District’s landowners. The NVRRWP will reduce the unsustainable reliance on groundwater supplies and pumping from the Delta, while also helping to meet the State Water Board’s recycled water goals and providing an incremental water supply to the wildlife refuges. The program provides an estimated direct annual economic benefit of approximately $30 million, contributing nearly $70 million per year to the region’s economy.