East Bay News

EBMUD and Chevron team up to save water

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Chevron refinery in Richmond is in the business of producing gasoline and oil products. But to do that, it uses a lot of water -- so much, that it is the East Bay's largest consumer of a most precious resource.

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It does not even have a lawn, but the Chevron refinery in Richmond has long been the East Bay Municipal Utility District's (EBMUD) biggest water user, consuming an average of 9 million gallons per day.

Right now, one-third of that is reclaimed or recycled, but with a new EBMUD project going up on Chevron property, the refinery could cut its water use by another third.

"We're going to double the amount of reclaimed water we're going to use, and that reduces the demand that we have for fresh water for the refinery," refinery general manager Mike Coyles said.

The project will treat reclaimed water sent to the plant by EBMUD and fed to another plant at the refinery, according to Teri Lizarraga. Lizarraga is the health, environmental and safety manager for the refinery.

When the project is completed next year, it will reduce the refinery's use of potable water by 3 million gallons per day.

"We've been providing about 4 million gallons per day of recycled water already to Chevron for its use in cooling towers from a plant we have at North Richmond, so what this project will do is actually expand recycled water services to Chevron to meet their needs in their boilers," EBMUD water recycling program manager Linda Hu said.

The extra water saved will be available to the surrounding community, enough to meet the daily needs of 12,000 households.

EBMUD has elected to end its mandatory rationing program July 1, but is still trying to make up for a deficit created by three straight years of below average rainfall.

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