San Mateo County’s more than 720,000 residents are almost completely rely on the Hetch Hetchy regional water system, which is very vulnerable to drought and changing weather patterns. The San Mateo Civil Grand Jury investigated recycled water use and issued its report in March. They concluded that we must reduce our dependence on imported water by diversifying their water supply sources, saying that “One way to diversify is through the increased use of recycled water. Water recycling alone cannot completely mitigate the growing imbalance between water supply and demand, but used in conjunction with other water management options it can help the County and Cities maintain a safe and reliable water source. Water recycling reduces regional dependence on imported water by providing a local, drought resistant water source. It enhances water quality by reducing discharges to and diversions from ecologically sensitive water bodies. It is environmentally sustainable and has a smaller energy footprint than most other water supply sources.”
The Grand Jury conducted a survey of the unincorporated COWnty and all 20 cities. They found that only the cities of Daly City and Redwood City have implemented water recycling programs. The cities of Brisbane, Foster City, Pacifica, San Bruno, South San Francisco, and San Mateo have water recycling programs under consideration. The cities of Atherton, Belmont, Burlingame, Colma, Half Moon Bay, Hillsborough, Menlo Park, Millbrae, Portola Valley, San Carlos, and Woodside, plus the COWnty, do not currently plan to develop water recycling programs. East Palo Alto did not respond to the Grand Jury’s survey. Our Town did not even cite a reason for not developing a program.
It stands to reason that since we are adjacent to Redwood City, we should be exploring how to tap into their system and expand recycled water into Woodside. You can read the report here.