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Recycled water project advances
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The cities of Turlock, Ceres and Modesto will soon be involved in one of the largest regional recycled water projects in the nation, after the Turlock City Council voted on Aug. 11 to approve the final details in making the project a reality.

The North Valley Regional Recycled Water Project, a roughly $100 million project will help provide a reliable water supply to the 45,000 acres of farmland serviced by the Del Puerto Water District, using treated recycled water from the cities of Turlock, Ceres and Modesto that would be pumped to the westside through the Harding Drain Bypass and into the Delta-Mendota Canal.

The Delta-Mendota Canal is a federal entity that afforded Del Puerto growers zero inches of water the last two years due to the ongoing drought.

"This is very exciting," said Del Puerto Water District General Manager Anthea Hansen at Tuesday's Council meeting.

Hansen credited Turlock Mayor Gary Soiseth in getting the project to the point where Del Peurto farmers could soon be getting water for their crops.

"You are dogged and you are determined...that's how projects get done," said Hansen.

Although the collaborative partnership between Del Puerto and the cities of Turlock, Ceres, Hughson and Modesto was established through an agreement in 2010, city officials say that the project has been in discussions over the past 20 years. In 2010 and 2012, feasibility studies were conducted to determine whether the project was possible, while also finding the most viable option to connect Turlock and Modesto's wastewater treatment facilities directly to Del Puerto's irrigation users.

About a third of Ceres' wastewater is piped to the Turlock plant for disposal while another third makes it to the Modesto plant. The remaining third is treated at the sewer plant on Morgan Road.

Turlock has been leading the project but Ceres has been at the table during discussions, said Ceres City Manager Toby Wells.

"It's good for the region," Wells commented.

The city of Turlock had planned to move forward with the next steps of the project in November 2013, but was stalled after being approached by representatives from the Turlock Irrigation District who argued that the city's water supply should stay in Turlock, particularly amidst the ongoing drought that caused lowered water allotments this irrigation season for TID farmers.

To avoid the city having to pay back the $15 million to the state that it used to build the pipeline, Turlock came to an agreement on the sale of the city's recycled water that satisfied all agencies involved.

"In a water crisis like we have, partnerships like this one are key. We have a great partnership with the Turlock Irrigation District, and we're happy to have partnerships with the city of Modesto, the city of Ceres and Del Puerto Water District," said Soiseth.