Improved Water Quality Coming Soon!

The new West Hills Water Treatment Plant will be coming online this summer, bringing higher-quality, better-tasting water to west/central Hollister. The Plant will be opening several months ahead of schedule, and that means improved water quality will come to homes and businesses sooner!

Overview of Hollister Urban Area Water Project – West Hills Water Treatment Plant Start Up

Water Improvement Project Ahead of Schedule
The new West Hills Water Treatment Plant will be coming online this summer, bringing higher-quality, better-tasting water to west/central Hollister. The Plant will be opening several months ahead of schedule, and that means improved water quality will come to homes and businesses sooner!

New Water Blend
The new water treatment plant will enable the San Benito County Water District (SBCWD) to treat much more of the higher-quality imported “San Felipe” water.. The groundwater — up to now our primary source of drinking water — is naturally higher in dissolved salts, which gives the tap water a salty taste.. Once the new system comes online and the new water is phased into use, the ratio will be about 1/3 groundwater to 2/3 surface water.. Please note that the actual blend ratio will vary, since our allocation of imported high-quality surface water will vary depending on overall hydrology/drought conditions, allocations to other agencies, and other issues beyond our control).

Benefits to Residents
With that higher ratio of imported-to-groundwater, our new blend will have less dissolved salts and so the taste of your tap water will be much-improved! In addition to enjoying better-tasting water out of your faucets, you may soon discover you no longer need your water softener (of course, individual preferences vary). And since the water will taste better, you may not want to buy as much bottled drinking water. Plus, your appliances that use water are likely to have less mineral build-up and therefore can last longer.

Possible Temporary Change in Water Color
As the new, higher-quality water is phased into the pipeline system, it may dislodge mineral deposits that the “old” blend of water left in the pipes. Although unlikely, it is possible that some homes or businesses may see a temporary change in the color of the tap water. Any change in water color is temporary – a normal effect of transitioning to our new and better water source – and is not a cause for alarm. If you notice a color change you can simply let the faucet run for a few minutes to flush out these deposits. The City will also be flushing its distribution pipelines to minimize effects, and will be conducting increased water quality testing as these changes are made to improve the overall water quality.

The West Hills Water Treatment Plant is part of the Hollister Urban Area Water Project and is being built through a partnership between the San Benito County Water District, the City of Hollister, and the Sunnyslope County Water District — working together to bring water benefits to the community.

Multiple Benefits

Adding this new source of higher-quality drinking water offers multiple benefits to our community.

  • The most obvious benefits of improved taste and reduced mineral-buildup in customers’ appliances will be quite noticeable.
  • This continuing source of high-quality water helps keep the groundwater basin in balance. In addition to providing drinking water, the improved water quality also has the benefit of protecting our groundwater basin from salt build-up, which is an important safeguard against the next drought. When – not if! – the next drought hits, our allocation of imported water may well be reduced, and so having a healthy, “full” groundwater basin will be crucial in helping our community endure a drought. The more imported water we can treat and inject underground, the higher the level and better the condition of the basin.
  • Our new, improved water blend will also help the Hollister Wastewater Reclamation Plant to meet increasingly stringent state requirements around the discharge of wastewater. By improving the water quality of water going into homes and businesses, the wastewater leaving the homes is of better quality, and can be treated to a higher quality of recycled water at the water reclamation plant. Much of that recycled water is then used to irrigate agriculture (see below), and the deep percolation from irrigation – having less minerals to percolate back into the groundwater basin – is cleaner and compliant with state regulations. Any recycled water that is not used for agriculture must be discharged elsewhere, and must also meet state requirements. The new blend of water “at the source” of that recycled water ensures better compliance throughout that process.
  • Our local agriculture will also benefit from the improved water. Many farms in our area currently use non-potable recycled water to irrigate their crops. That water originates from the wastewater treatment plant. Now, as more residents begin to use this new influx of higher quality water, the wastewater from homes and businesses will also be “softer” water, with less salts. That means the resulting non-potable recycled water that is produced by the wastewater treatment plant will also be of higher quality, as it is transported to and used by our local agriculture industry.

Rethink Your Water Softener
With our new blend of higher-quality water, you may find that you no longer need your water softener. Of course personal preferences vary widely, but if you’ve been using your water softener due to the high salt and mineral content of tap water, you might consider disposing of it once the West Hills Water Treatment Plant is fully operational and delivering great tasting water from your faucets.

Fewer water softeners in operation in our community means an improved overall water supply. Many water softeners produce high-salt water as a byproduct, contributing to high salt levels in groundwater – and that’s one thing this project is working to overcome. In fact, phasing out water softeners is part of the long-range plan for the area’s water supply.
By reducing the salt water discharges created by water softeners, wastewater discharges will be able meet state regulations and will in turn reduce salts in the local groundwater basin.

We can help with a possible rebate of up to $300. Special rules do apply and funding is limited – read below, and call the Water Resources Association of San Benito County at (831) 637-4378 to learn more.

WRASBC offers two different rebate program options for the elimination or replacement of water softener. To be eligible you must be a resident of San Benito County and must receive water service through the City of Hollister, City of San Juan Bautista, or Sunnyslope Water District, or reside in CSA 31 (Stonegate). Customers served by private wells are not eligible.

There are two rebate options for households which currently have a water softener:

  1. A $250 rebate to eliminate any type of water softener and switch to an offsite regeneration service. Customers must submit proof by providing a copy of the 1-year minimum contract.
  2. A $300 rebate if you demolish your old, self-regulating water softener that uses salt/potassium; you can either replace it with a salt-free water conditioner, or remove it entirely and do not replace it. This rebate is limited to one per household.

These rebates apply only to purchases within the last six months. All rebate programs are subject to available funds.