South County must rely largely on imported water to meet our growing demands. Any water conservation program or project we can implement now is going to go a long way toward ensuring water supplies for future generations. I’m proud to say that water conservation is going to get a big funding boost over the next several years thanks to the efforts of the County’s Watershed & Coastal Resources Division.
Through a collaborative County-led effort, South County Cities and water agencies worked together to develop a successful grant proposal for the recent Proposition 50, Chapter 8, Integrated Regional Water Management Plan (IRWMP) funds. The result is $25 million for priority projects in the 5th District! Priority projects include an expanded rebate program for weather-based irrigation controllers, and a rebate program for structural conversion of existing landscapes. Programs like these will undoubtedly make a visible dent in our residential water consumption, which conserves water for critical uses like fire protection and emergency storage.
Recently, I participated in a briefing on the proposed Upper Chiquita Reservoir Project. Details of the Santa Margarita Water District reservoir, to be built between Coto de Caza and Rancho Santa Margarita, were presented and I was informed about the upcoming environmental and public review process involved with the project.
In light of the recent statewide attention to the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, from looming reductions of water supplies available to Southern California to the condition of the Delta itself, I continue to remain focused on South County water issues.
Construction of the Upper Chiquita Reservoir will provide South County with substantial new water reserves to meet customer demand during disruptions of water deliveries to the Fifth District. These interruptions can be unanticipated, such as a primary pipeline break, or scheduled, such as the recent shutdown of the Diemer Filtration Plant in Yorba Linda. The new reservoir, planned as an emergency supply storage facility, will be the largest domestic water storage site in South County – capable of providing upwards of 168,000 families with approximately 200 gallons of fresh water a day for a week.
The proposed reservoir is to be located on the western slope of Chiquita Canyon, north of Oso Parkway, on approximately 24 acres of land within the City of Rancho Santa Margarita. The draft environmental impact report will be submitted for public review at a meeting in October and public hearings will be held in January 2008. Construction is planned for spring 2008 with the anticipated operation of the reservoir sometime in spring 2010.