Gobernadora Basin

Enhancing local water supplies while protecting the environment

The Cañada Gobernadora Multipurpose Basin project (“Gobernadora Basin”) is located within an unincorporated portion of southeastern Orange County, just south of the community of Coto de Caza.   The basin captures and naturally treats urban runoff and storm flows, and uses the urban return flows to help meet irrigation demands in the nearby community.   

The Gobernadora Basin project consists of a storm detention basin and a natural treatment system, a system to capture and divert flows to the wetlands, a pump station, and a pipeline to deliver flows to the Portola Reservoir, a recycled water reservoir located in Coto de Caza.  The District is also connecting the Gobernadora transmission system to the Chiquita Water Reclamation Plant to deliver recycled water to the Portola Reservoir.

Located along the 8.5 mile Gobernadora Creek, a major tributary to San Juan Creek, the Gobernadora basins intercept a significant portion of the Gobernadora Creek flow for storm detention and treatment of urban runoff.  This reduces downstream erosion and sedimentation of the Gobernadora Creek and improves water quality.  Approximately 350 to 750 acre feet of water (114 million to 244 million gallons) is expected to be captured by the basin each year.

Click to enlarge


The Gobernadora Basins accomplish several things:

  • Reduces downstream erosion and sedimentation of Gobernadora Creek, a major tributary of San Juan Creek.
  • Enhances local water supplies by capturing urban flows for outdoor irrigation use, decreasing the need for irrigating with imported, potable water.
  • Improves the water quality in the Gobernadora Creek, which flows downstream to the Gobernadora Ecological Restoration Area (GERA).


  • The Gobernadora Basin is the fourth urban water capture basin located within the SMWD service area.
  • Other basins within the District include the Horno Basin in Ladera Ranch, Upper Oso Creek Barrier in Mission Viejo, and Bell Canyon Project near Dove Canyon. 
  • The project is expected to capture, treat and deliver 350 to 750 acre feet of water (114 million to 224 million gallons) each year for outdoor irrigation needs.
  • Located in unincorporated southern Orange County, the Gobernadora Basin comprises approximately 35 acres.  


Funding for the Gobernadora Basin project was established based in part on the mutual benefits derived by SMWD, Rancho Mission Viejo, Orange County Parks and Orange County Flood. The cost of the project is some $25 million. 

SMWD was awarded two grants (Prop 1E and Prop 50) for approximately $7.499 million.The remainder of the funds were provided by Rancho Mission Viejo, Santa Margarita Water District and Orange County Parks.  



Gobernadora Creek Watershed Map

Click to enlarge

Cañada Gobernadora is a tributary to San Juan Creek, about 8.5 miles long, in southern Orange County. The creek begins in the foothills of the Santa Ana Mountains, at an elevation of 1,040 feet and flows south through residential, agricultural and undeveloped land, to its confluence with San Juan Creek.






SMWD is currently closed

Contact Us

E-mail requests will be viewed between the hours of 8am-5pm M-F. Any e-mails sent after hours or on the weekend will be replied to during the next business day.

To use our LiveChat please check back during our normal operating hours of:

Monday - Friday
8:00am - 5:00pm


Fill out the form to the right to send us an e-mail.