Santa Clarita to start recycling water a year from now

Crews work on the Vista Canyon development in this file photo. Dan Watson/The Signal.

By this time next year, the city of Santa Clarita is expected to join that exclusive club of green progressive American cities that recycles water.

Developers of Santa Clarita’s first-ever large scale recycling plant, called the Vista Canyon Water Factory, expect it to be built and begin recycling water by December 2017.

“It’ll be just in time for the sixth year of drought,” said developer Jim Backer, owner of JSB Development Inc. which is building the facility.

The Valencia-based company put shovels in the ground by late summer, guiding bulldozers to grade most of the land and dig groundwater monitoring wells.

In two weeks, bulldozers are expected to do the last bit of “fine grading” of land earmarked for the construction of the actual water recycling building.

“We’re set up to start the fine grading mid-December,”  Backer said. “With construction to begin in early 2017.

“It’ll take us a year to build and get operational,” he said. “So, we’ll be recycling water late next year, in 2017.”

Vista Canyon, proposed by JSB Development Inc., is a mixed-use housing project that calls for more than 1,000 homes to be built and almost a million square feet of commercial space on 185 acres across the Santa Clara River from Canyon Country Park. It would be located between Sand Canyon and Lost Canyon roads.

The builders refer to the recycling plant as the “water factory.” It would receive about 80 percent of the water leaving homes in Vista Canyon – from toilets to bathtub and kitchen sink drains. The other 20 percent – solid wastes from the same sources – would go to the Saugus Water Reclamation Plant for treatment.

Principal players in the project are the developer, which builds the plant, Santa Clarita, which takes ownership and operates it, and the Castaic Lake Water Agency and its water-retailing division, the Santa Clarita Water Division, which will install the infrastructure needed to use “water factory” water on parks and medians near Vista Canyon.

Matt Stone, general manager of the CLWA, told The Signal Thursday: “The monitoring wells are in. The California Environmental Quality Act process has started. The anticipated completion of that is March 2017.”

Although SCV residents were given the green light by local water officials this past year to resume their unrestricted lawn-watering habits, those same officials remind residents that the multi-year drought which prompted landscape watering restrictions is not over.

“We are still in a drought both statewide and locally,” Dirk Marks, the CLWA’s water resources manager told The Signal Thursday.

“In 2016, we have received about half of our average rainfall,” he said. “That only builds on the previous four years of below normal precipitation.  Statewide the drought also continues.

“While near normal precipitation in Northern California in 2016 helped, that doesn’t dig us out of hole created by one of the worst droughts experienced in California,” he said.

“While the water management planning done by CLWA and the water retailers allowed watering day restrictions to be suspended,  water wasting restrictions remain in place,” Marks said. “For example, runoff from landscaping irrigation, watering down sidewalks and driveways and washing cars without a hose shutoff valve continued to be prohibited.


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