San Luis Reservoir

Project: Water

The challenge

Silicon Valley’s water resources face a variety of pressures. Climate change brings hotter, drier weather, making our water supply and storage less reliable. Two-thirds of this supply is imported from the Delta and Sierras, which in dry years can result in overdrafting and aquatic ecosystem damage. A growing Bay Area population, expected to add 2 million people over the next twenty-five years, will put further demands on our water supply.
Yet we only recycle 2 to 5% of our water and each day we must release 433 million of gallons of treated wastewater into the San Francisco Bay. In addition, the predominance of paved surfaces creates significant stormwater runoff each year. Stormwater contains harmful contaminants and is the largest source of pollution in SF Bay.

The opportunity

By capturing, treating and reusing more of our wastewater and stormwater, we can increase our local water supply and reduce the release of contaminated water into the San Francisco Bay. Wastewater can be treated safely and economically for non-potable uses, such as irrigation, toilet flushing, and cooling tower blow-down. Stormwater can be treated for reuse and groundwater infiltration. We can successfully supplement our supply of centrally treated recycled water with small, privately funded systems, offering an additional benefit of a reduced carbon footprint when treatment systems are powered with renewable energy.

Imagine if we increased our local water supplies by reusing more of our water, thus importing less water and decreasing the billions of gallons of wastewater and polluted stormwater that enter our waterways each year. We could maintain our high quality of life, help restore aquatic ecosystems, and be a model for other communities.

Project: Intelligent Water REuse Initiative

SSV educates and advocates for the implementation of onsite reuse in order to increase our water resilience and help restore our aquatic ecosystems.

Educate: Provide resources and inspiration to stakeholders via workshops, meetings, SSV’s Water REuse Exchange, tours, presentations, and panel discussions.

Policy Change via Collaborative Advocacy: Encourage policy change at the local and state level in order to encourage onsite reuse, including the adoption of permitting paths which will provide predictability and guarantee public safety. Partner with organizations, agencies, governments and business’ to leverage our messaging range.

Sustainable Silicon Valley’s advocacy, expertise, and passion make them a great ally in advancing California’s onsite water reuse policies.

Senator Scott Wiener
Senate District 11


  • As a member of Santa Clara Valley Water District’s New Development Water Efficiency Task Force, SSV contributed to the development of a model ordinance that goes further than California standards, looking at gray water, rainwater capture, onsite reuse, and other water conservation/efficiency implementations.
    Draft Model Ordinance
  • Meet with supervisors, councilmembers, mayors, and city/county staff to familiarize officials on SSV’s water goals and projects.
  • Spoke at City of Menlo Park’s City Council Meeting in favor of an ordinance which requires on-site reuse systems to be installed in all buildings over 250,000 square feet. (November 2016: passed)
  • Spoke at City of Menlo Park’s City Council Meeting in favor of Facebook’s campus extension which includes an on-site reuse system. (September and November 2016: passed)
  • Spoke at and attended design charrettes, supervisor meetings, and community outreach meetings to encourage implementation of an onsite reuse system to be incorporated in the County of Santa Clara’s Civic Center Master Plan which will inspire and encourage residents to conserve and reuse water.
  • Supported local measure AA, which encourages a clean and healthy bay.


2018 Legislation:

SB966 Wiener (SD-11) Requires the State Water Resources Control Board to set standards protective of public health and guidance for cities/counties to develop permitting and monitoring programs for onsite non-potable reuse. 

  • Sr. Water Director at SSV testified as a witness for the Senate Environmental Quality Committee on April 4th, and for Assembly Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials Committee on Tuesday, June 26, 2018.
  • Provided input on the bill, and encouraged support letters from members.

SB606 Hertzberg (SD-18)
AB1668 Friedman (AD-43) Together these bills create permanent water efficiency goals across the state for the first time, establishing a framework for drought resiliency. SIGNED INTO LAW BY GOVERNOR BROWN ON MAY 31, 2018

Prop 68 A $4.1 billion bond measure for parks and water projects on the June 5th ballot. PASSED MAJORITY VOTE ON JUNE 5, 2018

2017 Bills SSV supported:

SB740 Wiener (SD-11) Requires the Water Board to set standards protecting public health for onsite water reuse
SSV testified as a witness for the Senate Environmental Quality Committee on April 19th and collaboratively encouraged support letters from partners and members.

SB49 Leon (SD-24) Insulates California from federal environmental regulation rollbacks

2016 Bills SSV supported:

AB2022 Gordon (AD-24): Advanced purified demonstration water

SB814 Hill (AD-13): Fines for residential excessive water users

Newsha Ajami, PhD

Newsha Ajami, PhD

Director of Urban Water Policy | Water in the West, Stanford University
Don Berger, P.E.

Don Berger, P.E.

Environmental Engineer and Water Reuse Consultant West Yost Associates
Josiah Cain

Josiah Cain

Director of Innovation, Sherwood Design Engineers
Bob Hitchner

Bob Hitchner

Chief Sales & Marketing Officer, Nexus eWater Inc.
Sebastien Tilmans

Sebastien Tilmans

Director of Operations, Codiga Resource Recovery Center at Stanford University