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Trampas Canyon Reservoir

A Report on OCWA’s October 2020 Webinar

By Tim Hogan
OCWA Communications

Burdened with the need to import 100% of its drinking water, the Santa Margarita Water District determined years ago to undertake an ambitious plan to locally generate 30% of its potable supply. In addition, it committed to recycle more of its wastewater. Central to this two pronged approach was construction of a new reservoir. This vast new project, Trampas Canyon Reservoir, will most likely see water start flowing into it this December. Eventually, it will hold over 1.6 billion gallons of water.

A $109 million project, Trampas Canyon Reservoir initially will be used to hold treated wastewater for reuse. However, the District expects to eventually implement a system similar to OCWD’s Groundwater Replenishment System and turn much of this wastewater into potable water. Initial expectations are to produce about 1,000 acre-feet of potable water ­annually, and eventually reach to as much as 5,000 acre-feet per year.

To learn more about the design, construction, and future plans for this ­massive South County project, OCWA invited Donald H. Bunts, Santa Margarita Water District’s Deputy General Manager, to share his insights at the Association’s October luncheon webinar on “Trampas Canyon Reservoir: How SMWD’s Ambitious Project Aims to Reduce Its Dependence on Imported Water.”

Speaking to an audience of over 100 participants, Mr. Bunts touched on a wide range of topics. Beginning with the history of the District, he explained the growing realization the District has had for local sources of water and how, over the years, it has upgraded its treatment plants, repurposed local irrigation lines to carry recycled water, and developed an award-winning process that allows Lake Mission Viejo, a recreation spot for boating and swimming in the middle of the community, to use recycled water.

From there, he moved into a discussion on what the project’s ultimate objectives were seen to be, how the site for the Reservoir was chosen, and what issues arose in the design phase. What came out of the preparation was a three phase construction process. Spread over more than three years, construction of the Reservoir was one of the largest engineering projects undertaken in South County. The main dam alone is over 3,000 feet long, 216 feet high, and required that over 3.5 million cubic yards of dirt be moved.



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OCWA was pleased to host yet another in our continuing series of online webinars. This informative presentation by Donald Bunts continued the exceptional standard which OCWA is committed to provide in our new Industry Insight webinar series. For despite the disruptions the Covid-19 pandemic has plagued us with, the OCWA Board of Directors remains committed to providing quality, timely information for the Association’s members, as well as the entire Orange County water community.

For those interested, a PDF of this presentation is available for download by OCWA’s members only. Yet another great reason to consider becoming a member if you aren’t one already.

The November Industry Insight Webinar will take on the topical issue of Covid-19. Anthony P. Nicolli, a partner in the law firm of Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud & Romo, will join us to provide an in-depth look at how the pandemic is affecting the water industry. Plan now to join us for COVID-19 and Its Impact on Public Works Projects. It’s a presentation you won’t want to miss.

Register Now to Ensure You Don’t Forget!
OCWA Members: Free. Non Members: $10.00

So join us, November 18, to learn how to use your assets wisely while you protect their useful life.

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