Lake Mission Viejo
Lake Mission Viejo

Lake Mission Viejo becomes state’s first recreational lake fed with highly treated waste water

A collaboration between the city of Mission Viejo, Santa Margarita Water District (SMWD) and the Lake Viejo Association (LMVA) recently celebrated an “unprecedented accomplishment” earlier this week when they dedicated a new Advanced Purified Water Facility and a highly anticipated project that will fill the lake with advanced purified water.

According to the city of Mission Viejo’s newsletter, Outlook, “…the Advanced Purified Water Facility will eliminate up to 350 acre-feet of potable (drinking) demand, (or) more than 114-million gallons of drinking water, used to fill the lake and make that water available to Mission Viejo residents served by the district. “

“We are securing water for our residents and reducing the overall potable water demand during California’s historic drought while at the same time maintaining the lake’s ability to fulfill its recreational, fishing and fire suppression purposes,” said Mission Viejo City Manager Dennis Wilberg. “Lake Mission Viejo will become the first fully sustainable man-made lake in the state of California.”

The 124-acre man-made lake will be fed by a water treatment method much like that used by Orange County Water District’s Groundwater Replenishment System. Located in Fountain Valley, the water is treated through a process of reverse osmosis, ultraviolet and filtration tanks rendering it sufficiently safe to provide underground drinking water in north and central Orange County. The treated water is then deemed safe for recreational water use (for swimmers, boaters, fishing, etc.) and for the lake’s fish.

“This is an unprecedented accomplishment for this community,” Charley Wilson, Santa Margarita Water District board president said. “This is a crown jewel and we’re preserving it for years into the future.”

SMWD proposed using treated, recycled wastewater last year after public pressure and the six-year, on-going California drought prompted the idea. The Advanced Purified Water Facility was hastened by a financing program with the city of Mission Viejo which included a $1 million grant and a $3 million loan. In return for the funding, SMWD will provide the city with enough reclaimed water to irrigate some 80 percent of the city’s parks, medians and slopes for the next 25 years.

Mission Viejo Mayor Frank Ury noted that the project provides more water for other communities south of Mission Viejo since the city will no longer need the water for the lake. “This is vital for the whole region,” said Ury, “and boiled down to two things – sustainability and teamwork.”

Fran Spivey-Weber, vice chairwoman of the State Water Resources Control Board, who was in attendance at the dedication echoed Ury’s comments saying, ““This releases a substantial amount of potable water used for drinking water. This project will maintain the lake level and amenities for what is a strong centerpiece.”

The project is expected to save 114-million gallons of drinking water each year.  The Advanced Purified Water Facility and the entire waste water purification process is currently undergoing its final checks and maintenance.  The collaborative project cost $5.4 million and will end 40 years of refilling the lake with drinking water.

The actual process of feeding the treated and recycled water into Lake Mission Viejo is expected to begin in mid-November.

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