Recycled water to flow into Seaport area

An underground network of recycled-water pipes in the coming year will spread through the Seaport area, where nearly 30 businesses have signed up to use the water for landscaping and industrial work.

Redwood City rolled out its first pipeline this summer to deliver recycled water to more than a dozen business parks and communities in Redwood Shores. In September, construction crews will begin laying pipes that will bring more recycled water from the South Bayside System Authority water treatment plant to customers along Seaport Boulevard, according to Community Development Director Peter Ingram.

While Redwood Shores is primarily using the water to keep plants and lawns green, Seaport’s industrial customers can use it for everything from mixing concrete to washing down dusty trucks, according to port Director Mike Giari. Those who use recycled water will save 40 percent on their potable water, while those who use the water for landscaping alone receive a 25 percent discount on drinking water.

“That’s a pretty significant savings,” Giari said.

Giari didn’t know how much recycled water the port and its tenants might use, but said the port’s decision to sign on helped Redwood City win a $2.9 million grant from the California State Water Resources Control Board. That money will go toward the Seaport pipeline’s estimated $8.9 million cost.

Redwood City dreamed up its recycling-water system after becoming the first Bay Area city to exceed the amount of Hetch Hetchy water it’s allowed to use from the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission. By 2010, the pipeline’s water supply will replace 900 acre-feet, or nearly 300 million gallons, of water, according to Ingram.

Recycled water, which is safe but not recommended for drinking, is suitable for a variety of industrial uses, but may also appeal to Seaport Boulevard businesses with environmentally friendly sides.

Graniterock, a supplier of sand, gravel and concrete with locations on Seaport Boulevard and elsewhere in the Bay Area, already uses a self-contained chute-washing system so that caustic chemicals don’t wind up in the Bay.

Sims Metal, a recycler of metal from cars and other large machines, is always looking for more ways to go green, according to Sims spokesman Dan Strechay.

Water should begin flowing to Seaport businesses in 2009, according to Ingram.

Once pipelines east of U.S. Highway 101 are completed, the city will begin building a recycled-water pipeline to the west. Leaders aim to bring 2,000 acre-feet, or 650 million gallons, of water to customers throughout the city by 2020, Ingram said.

bwinegarner@examiner.com

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