Apple extended its leadership in sustainable water on Tuesday when Santa Clara Valley Water District voted to approve a $17.5 million project that will channel more recycled water to the parched South Bay. While the company will only use 3% of the recycled water delivered through the pipeline, it is covering $4.8M of the $17.0 M project. Like many cities in California, Santa Clara is already producing reclaimed water in a plant built many years ago, but its been stumped by the costs of delivering water to users. A majority of the $17.0 M will go toward a 13,300 foot pipeline. On average, building new pipelines from big water plants to water users like the Apple campus cost between $1.0M – $2.0M per mile.
Reclaiming sewage for non-drinking water uses— toilets, outside landscape irrigation and golf courses– saves precious freshwater. About 40% of water used on corporate campuses like Apple’s is for toilet flushing and another 20% is used for outdoor landscaping. Distributed water reclaim systems eliminate the costs of pipelines, but regulation makes these systems expensive. The high costs of piping recycled water from centralized plants is driving states like California to examine how advanced water solutions can ensure safe treatment for waste water in distributed systems close to places like the Apple Campus.
Its exciting to see Apple extend its environmental leadership beyond clean energy into water. In driving new approaches, Apple’s Vice President of Environmental Initiatives Lisa Jackson brings unique qualifications. As the former head of the USEPA, Jackson understands the value of tech-driven water solutions, such as onsite water reclaim.