Santa Margarita Water District's Chiquita Water Reclamation Plant and its staff were featured in an Orange County Register article about the growing importance of recycled water.
The plant, east of Antonio Parkway and north of Ortega Highway, can produce up to 6 million gallons of recycled water daily. Recycled water is increasingly valuable to SMWD because it can be used for irrigation instead of expensive imported drinking water.
Reporter Tomoya Shimura and photographer Nick Koon spent more than two hours at the plant, on a tour guided by plant Supervisor Tracy Wallace.
Wastewater was once seen as a liability, but Santa Margarita Water leaders recognized its value years ago and upgraded the plant to meet standards for recycled water. The Chiquita facilty even has a lab where SMWD Senior Lab Tech Jim Pulles tests the work to ensure it meets health standards.
More upgrades to increase the capacity are anticipated.