Local Wastewater Facility

Wins Prestigious Achievement Award

San José-Santa Clara Regional Wastewater Facility Master Plan Wins Prestigious National Achievement Award from American Planning Association


The San José-Santa Clara Regional Wastewater Facility (RWF) is receiving national accolades for its Plant Master Plan (PMP), a 30-year roadmap for projects to rebuild the aging wastewater facility and define future restoration and development. During this week’s American Planning Association’s (APA) annual conference, the San José Environmental Services Department received APA’s prestigious National Planning Achievement Award for Environmental Planning.

“We’re honored to receive this award as it validates our commitment to the extensive stakeholder engagement process, culminating in a stellar plan,” said Kerrie Romanow, director of the San José Environmental Services Department. “The Plant Master Plan will enable us to rebuild the 60-year-old facility to ensure environmental and economic sustainability, reliability, and resiliency for the South Bay.”

The PMP was the result of a 3-year planning effort which included a wide range of stakeholder input from cities, special districts, community members, and environmental groups that utilized sustainability principles to develop the plan. The city councils for the City of San José and the City of Santa Clara, which jointly own the Regional Wastewater Facility, adopted the PMP in November 2013.

The San José-Santa Clara Regional Wastewater Facility is the largest advanced wastewater treatment facility in the western United States. Operating around the clock since 1956, the RWF treats about 110 million gallons of wastewater daily that is then discharged into the waters of southern San Francisco Bay. The treated wastewater helps keep the Bay clean and supports a diverse ecosystem of birds, fish, and habitat. The RWF consistently meets 100 percent of its state and federal discharge permit requirements.

Selected projects from the PMP have already been incorporated into the RWF’s 10-year $1.4 billion Capital Improvement Program (CIP). Replacing the obsolete 1950’s wastewater infrastructure with more efficient and modern technologies will continue its long-term role in protecting public health and the environment in the South Bay.

“The plan demonstrates the principles and applications of sustainability,” said Shedrick Coleman, AIA, 2016 APA Awards Jury Chair. “The awards jury applauds the plan for integrating environmental, economic, and social goals by leveraging the site’s most unique assets.”

The PMP also calls for increased restoration efforts which will create an additional 1,170 acres of riparian, salt marsh, and wetland habitat for wildlife and plant species under special status, such as the Western Burrowing Owl, Congdon’s Tarplant, and the Salt Marsh Harvest Mouse.

Moreover, the plan details new parklands, open spaces, and trails to support the needs of the local community for outdoor recreation opportunities.

In a letter of support for the award, Peter Bosselmann, Professor and Co-Chair of the Master of Urban Design Program at University of California, Berkeley said, “The rebuilt and redeveloped water treatment plant will achieve community sustainability goals by maximizing the use of waste products, restore habitats, and reconnect communities to the South Bay.”