January 2020 Industry Insight Presentation

  • 15 Jan 2020
  • 11:30 AM - 1:00 PM
  • Dave & Buster's – Irvine Spectrum • 661 Irvine Spectrum, Irvine CA


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January 15, 2020 Industry Insight Presentation 


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California’s First
Recycled Water
Swimming Lake


Donald H. Bunts
Deputy General Manager,
Santa Margarita Water District


Tricia Butler
Chief Engineer,
Santa Margarita Water District

About Our Presentation

Join us this month for an update on the Advanced Purified Water Treatment Facility owned and operated by Santa Margarita Water District (SMWD).

The Lake Mission Viejo Advanced Treated Water Facility is a national award-winning project which provides a sustainable, reliable source of water to the Lake, ending almost 40 years of the controversial use of drinking water for refill. In just nine months, the project was designed, constructed and operational as a result of a unique private/public partnership.

The Facility produces an effluent for direct discharge and use in Lake Mission Viejo, in addition to other existing uses within SMWD’s service area. Designed to produce up to 600 acre-feet per year (AFY) of treated recycled water, the treatment processes include ultra-filtration, reverse osmosis and ultraviolet-light disinfection. It is believed that this is the first use of recycled water for this purpose in the State.

Lake Mission Viejo (LMV), a man-made recreational lake, is the centerpiece of the City of Mission Viejo. Managed by the Lake Mission Viejo Association (LMVA), the 125-acre, 3650-acre-foot Lake is subject to regular water loss due to evaporation and subsurface seepage.

To maintain its optimum water level, LMV has been replenished historically through two sources: natural replenishment, both precipitation and groundwater; and potable water provided by Santa Margarita Water District (SMWD). Over the years, natural sources have provided an average of approximately 390 acre-feet per year (AFY) of water to LMV, while water provided from SMWD’s potable water system has averaged approximately 230 AFY.

Prompted by the effects of the recent multi-year California drought, as well as longer-term shifts in statewide environmental considerations, LMVA began meeting with SMWD in 2014 to explore alternative water supplies. These new sources would need to be both low in nutrients, to manage plant growth within the lake, and high in pathogen control, as full body-contact activities are a prime use of the lake.

LMVA’s subsequent planning efforts, with ongoing input from SMWD, identified several alternatives. Six of these were further analyzed and ranked, yielding Advanced Purified Water (APW) as the apparent-best. This alternative would provide additional treatment of SMWD’s existing disinfected tertiary effluent (recycled water).

Our presentation this month will focus on the planning and construction involved in building the APW Treatment Facility, as well as the challenges that needed to be met to bring it online and keep it operational. Plan to attend, as this will be a highly informative talk, packed with real-world solutions for critical issues.

OCWA Members with Reservations:  $30.00

Non-Members with Reservations:  $45.00

OCWA Members without Reservations:  $45.00 (at the door)

Non-Members without Reservations:  $45.00 (at the door)

Reservations must be made by end-of-day, Tuesday, January 14,
to qualify for the Reservation Rate.
Cancellations received AFTER this date CANNOT be refunded.

About Our Speakers

Donald H. Bunts
Deputy General Manager,
Santa Margarita Water District

Mr. Bunts has over 35 years of experience in the environmental engineering field, including the master planning, design and construction of multimillion-dollar municipal water and wastewater facilities. In addition, Mr. Bunts has successfully completed a number of alternative delivery projects that have resulted in substantial time and financial savings to the owners.

Prior to beginning public work Mr. Bunts had clients that include city and county governments, water districts and private entities throughout California, Arizona and Texas.

Before he came to work for the Santa Margarita Water District, Mr. Bunts was one of the founders of a consulting engineering firm. Between 1996 and when he left in 2012, the firm became recognized leaders in providing innovative solutions to project challenges in the water and wastewater field throughout the southwest, including Arizona and Texas, and had the distinction of being involved with the implementation of a significant number of recycled water retrofit projects in the southern California area. Mr. Bunts has also been involved with a number of alternative energy projects using biosolids, biomass and waste gas as the fuel source.

In his years with SMWD, Mr. Bunts was the District’s Chief Engineer before his promotion to Deputy General Manager.

He is a graduate of Cal State Polytechnic University at Pomona, where he earned Bachelor and Master of Science degrees in Civil/Environmental Engineering. He has served on the board of directors of the California Water Environment Association and the American Water Works Association.

Tricia Butler
Chief Engineer,
Santa Margarita Water District

Tricia Butler has nearly 30 years of experience in the water industry including over 25 years in private sector water engineering.  She spent 3 years early in her career as a water and sanitation technology volunteer with the United States Peace Corps.

As the Chief Engineer for the Santa Margarita Water District, Tricia has led several large projects including the nationally recognized Lake Mission Viejo Advanced Treated Water Facility. She specializes in designing drinking water, recycled water, and sewage facilities.

Tricia is a graduate of Northern Arizona University where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Engineering. She holds a Master of Science in Engineering from Arizona State University as well as a Masters in International Management from the Thunderbird School of Global Management.

Tricia balances her rewarding career and heart for volunteerism with the joy of raising three sons.

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