WaterWise Articles
December 1, 2016
2016 Earth day paris acords

Bioremediation at West Valley Water District

Over a decade ago, Southern Californians were shocked to find that groundwater in certain areas was contaminated with perchlorate. West Valley Water District (WVWD) has found a way to use bioremediation to treat wellheads. Perchlorate is a byproduct left behind by bomb manufacturing on U.S. military sites throughout the country, dating back to WWII. When WVWD became aware of the issue, they initially closed down contaminated wells and looked towards long-term solutions. WVWD’s search for a cost-effective, sustainable perchlorate cleanup process led to the development of the bioremediation plant that debuted in 2012. The plant has been constructed and will be operated by WVWD at their site at the corner of Base Line Road and Cactus Avenue in Rialto, California.

Instead of using other more expensive cleanup methods that would require a lot of waste to be trucked out – the bioremediation plant is able to chemically transform the perchlorate into harmless salts, leaving behind only a small residue to collect. This is done by microscopic organisms in the bioremediation plant, which are already present in the groundwater, that consume certain harmful chemicals such as perchlorate. After allowing this natural process to occur, the water is sent through a traditional water treatment process before it enters the drinking water system. Bioremediation does not use harmful chemicals.

While this bioremediation method has been used before for agricultural processes, the bioremediation plant at WVWD marks the first time this process has been used to provide safe and clean drinking water. This will allow WVWD to access some of its deepest and most plentiful wells. The innovative use of a natural processes plant at WVWD was the first of its kind but won’t be the last as more agencies are looking towards cost-effective, sustainable cleanup methods for perchlorate and other chemicals.