Following a Drop of Water Through Its Reclamation

The reclaimed water that could flow through the taps of 1 million customers in the upper San Gabriel Valley would go through the following process:

* Raw sewage flows to the San Jose Creek Water Reclamation Plant in Whittier. For the first two hours there, the sewage sits in primary settling tanks, where a non-chemical process allows heavy solids to sink and light solids to float.

The tanks are covered with metal, keeping escaping odors to a minimum. About two-thirds of all solids are removed during this time.

* The sewage is then funneled into aeration tanks filled with swirling bacteria that break down the organic material in the water. In a second set of settling tanks, the bacteria drop to the tanks' bottoms and are scraped away.

* The water is chlorinated before and after it is sent through thousands of small, packed coals that act as a filter for viruses. After its second chlorination, the water is dechlorinated, crystal-clear and odorless.

* The water would be pumped through a nine-mile-long underground pipeline to the Santa Fe spreading grounds, near the intersection of the San Gabriel River (605) and Foothill (210) freeways.

There, the water would seep through 240 feet of earth to the ground water table.

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