The Mission Viejo City Council on Tuesday approved an agreement with the Santa Margarita Water District that will help Lake Mission Viejo switch to advanced purified water for lake refill and end nearly 40 years of using potable (drinking) water to maintain water levels in the 124-acre lake. The agreement will also provide the City of Mission Viejo with enough reclaimed water to irrigate about 80 percent of its parks, medians and slopes for the next 25 years.
The project will eliminate up to 350 acre-feet of potable demand – more than 114 million gallons of drinking water – currently used to fill the lake and make that water available to Mission Viejo residents served by the district.
As part of the agreement, the City will provide a $1 million grant to help the water district build the Advanced Purified Water Treatment Facility that will use reclaimed water to maintain the lake level. Advanced purified water has received additional levels of treatment to polish the water to the Mission Viejo Lake Association’s water quality specifications.
“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 Mayor Frank Ury, who served on an ad-hoc committee with Councilman Ed Sachs to formulate the details of the partnership between the City, water district and Lake Mission Viejo Association.
In return for the grant funding, the water district will provide the City of Mission Viejo 300 acre-feet per year produced by the facility at a lower rate for 25 years. At no cost to the City, the district will also advance a needed reclaimed water retrofit project (estimated at $50,000-$60,000) along the northern sections of Marguerite Parkway. The City has been proactive in converting landscape irrigation to reclaimed water since it incorporated in 1988. This plan not only gives the City a reliable source of reclaimed water for irrigation needs, but it eliminates significant potable water demand. Through the agreement, the City of Mission Viejo will save about $850,000 over 25 years.
To get the Advanced Purified Water Treatment Facility online in time to meet summer demands (late July/early August), the City of Mission Viejo will provide the district with a $3 million loan that would be paid off over 20 years at a higher interest rate than normal, netting City coffers about $150,000. Since the interest rate exceeds the City’s current long-term interest rate but is below the rate of interest for the water district, the plan benefits both agencies.
“Santa Margarita Water District is grateful for this partnership with the City,” said Board President Charley Wilson. “This cooperative venture will benefit both the City and the district now and for years to come. We are pleased to be able to make this innovative approach to water recycling a reality for our customers in Mission Viejo and the district at-large.”
Mayor Ury said this pioneering financing solution and strong partnership between the City, Santa Margarita Water District and Lake Mission Viejo Association is a “win-win” for the entire community.
“It saves residents money and takes Lake Mission Viejo off the regional water consumption grid, making it the most sustainable manmade lake in the region,” he said.