Business / Economy

West Hills Water Treatment Plant Online Ahead of Schedule

Consumers will have higher quality drinking water and the taste of the water will improve.


The new West Hills Water Treatment Plant is up and operating several months ahead of schedule. The San Benito County Water District announced Sept. 12, that the plant is "bringing higher-quality, better-tasting water to west/central Hollister." The plant started up Sept. 12 and is now treating more of the higher-quality imported “San Felipe” water, blending it with the local groundwater, and delivering it to west/central Hollister.  A grand opening event for the Treatment Plant is set for Nov. 4.


The Treatment Plant was a joint project between the San Benito County Water District and Sunnyslope County Water District.  A news release provided by the county water district stated, "As more and more of the imported water is treated and blended-in, the 'total dissolved salts' (TSD) in the water coming out of faucets will continue to decrease. The local groundwater — up until now our primary source of drinking water — is naturally higher in dissolved salts, which gives the tap water a salty taste. Before the West Hills plant came online, the west/central parts of Hollister received mainly groundwater. Now, with the new system online and the new water being phased in, that ratio is already improving, and will reach a blend of about 40/60 groundwater to imported water."

“Adding this new source of higher-quality drinking water offers so many benefits to the community, in addition to the greatly-improved taste,” said Director Sonny Flores said in the news release. Flores is with the San Benito County Water District which represents the west side of Hollister. “With less mineral-buildup in appliances that use water, they should last longer, and residents can consider getting rid of their water softeners and buying less bottled water. And agriculture benefits by getting higher quality recycled water for irrigation use," Flores was quoted as saying.


Consumers have been advised that as the new, higher-quality water is phased into the pipeline system, it may dislodge mineral deposits that the “old” water left in the pipes. The news release notified consumers that, "although unlikely, it is possible that some homes or businesses may see a temporary change in the color of the tap water."

The District stated that any change in water color is temporary "-a normal effect of transitioning to our better water source- and is not a cause for alarm." They recommended that if you notice a color change, "simply let the faucet run for a few minutes to flush out these deposits." The notice also mentioned that "the City of Hollister 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 news release stated, "The cost of the new West Hills Water Treatment Plant is about $30 million, and is funded through a combination of SBCWD reserves, grants, and the rates paid by water customers of the City of Hollister and the Sunnyslope County Water District. The new water treatment plant will primarily serve the west/central areas of Hollister. Other parts of Hollister and surrounding areas are already served by the Lessalt Water Treatment Plant."

The grand-opening event scheduled to celebrate the startup of the West Hills Water Treatment Plant is set for Saturday, Nov. 4 at 10 am. "The entire community is invited to join in and mark the new beginning of high-quality water for west/central Hollister," the news release said. The entrance to the treatment plant is approximately three blocks west of San Justo Reservoir on the opposite side of the street (2544 Union Road). Signs and balloons will mark the road leading up to the treatment plant.  

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.  The release explained that the districts have been "working together to bring water benefits to the community, protect the groundwater basin, and help meet wastewater discharge requirements." More information about the Hollister Urban Area Water Project is available at or by contacting Shawn Novack at 831-637-8218 / [email protected]


Leslie David

Leslie David is a Bay Area independent reporter/producer and is a BenitoLink founding board member. She has produced for radio, television, newspaper and magazines in both California and Wyoming. She was with KRON-TV News in San Francisco as camera-woman, editor and field producer, where she won the Commonwealth Club's Thomas Storke Award with Linda Yee for their series on the Aids Epidemic. She started as a small market news reporter shooting her own 16mm film at KEYT-TV Santa Barbara. Leslie lives on a ranch with her family in San Benito County.