Groundbreaking signals start of construction

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Water district staff, district directors and other dignitaries conduct the official groundbreaking for the Reliability Improvement Project.

Cloudy skies and occasional drizzle couldn’t dampen the enthusiasm of state and local dignitaries for the future of the district’s first water treatment plant as they gathered to symbolically kick off one of the largest capital projects in the district’s history.

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State Assemblyman Evan Low presents Gary Kremen, water district board chairperson, with a certificate of recognition from the California Legislature.

“The changes coming to Rinconada are indeed groundbreaking for how our customers on the west side of the county will be served,” said water district Director and Board Chairperson Gary Kremen. “This project symbolizes so clearly our mission, which is to provide clean, safe drinking water for the community we serve. The modernized facility will enable our staff to complete that mission for many years to come.”

Improvements will include: Increased capacity to treat more water for drinking, from 80 million gallons a day to 100; Drinking water treated with ozone, one of the most trusted agents to treat water; A more seismically resilient facility and the most modern treatment plant in the district’s system.

“All of that is significant,” said district Chief Executive Officer Beau Goldie, citing the plant being about 45 years old. “I remember taking a tour in 2009 and our maintenance crews did a fantastic job. They actually had duct tape around one of the pipes to keep it working. Today, we’re going to bring this facility up to make sure that we continue to serve the community with a high quality drinking water.”

Twenty-eighth district State Assemblyman Evan Low (D-Campbell) said the value of the project couldn’t be understated.

“The number one thing people in the state of California care about is water,” said Low before presenting the district a certificate of recognition from the California Legislature that honored the district for its “dedication to upgrading the water infrastructure in preparation of ongoing drought conditions and natural disasters” and labeled the work an “instrumental project” for municipalities served by the Rinconada plant. “It’s so important that we’re able to advance these kinds of projects.”

One of those customers is the San Jose Water Company. And its chief operating officer, Andrew Gere recognized the impact such a modern facility will have on water quality, particularly in light of the current drought.

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Steve Twitchell, Rinconada’s plant supervisor, touted the importance of the district being “a good neighbor” during the anticipated five-year construction period.

“The good news is that when this project is done, it’s going to be one of the most robust treatment plants that will provide reliable, great tasting and safe drinking water for decades into the future,” he said.

As supervisor of the Rinconada plant, it’s Steve Twitchell’s job to keep the plant running around the clock even in the face of such massive construction. But even with that task, he said it’s important Rinconada remain a good neighbor to the residents around the facility, vowing it would do everything in its power to ensure the project goes as smoothly as possible.

“We can’t wait to continue this work,” said Katherine Oven, the district’s deputy operating officer of the Water Capital Division, “and to demonstrate to the public that when it comes to water, we treat it right.”

– By Tony Mercado, neighborhood liaison, Santa Clara Valley Water District

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