SCV Water explores ‘Next Drop’ recycled water strategy

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SCV Water Agency heads, who were surprised to hear that additional water expected from the local sanitation district would not be forthcoming, are already hammering out a plan to acquire water in new ways.

On Tuesday night, members of the SCV Water Agency board were briefed on a new strategy for acquiring recycled water.

Every drop of recycled water used to irrigate grassy public areas such as school campuses and parks is a drop of drinking water saved, agency officials say.

To that end, water officials were received a presentation by SCV Water’s Assistant General Manager Steve Cole, explaining a water-collecting strategy dubbed “The Next Drop.”

Essentially, the plan requires the water agency to capture, and put to use, “new water” before it enters into the Santa Clara River.

Cole prefaced his presentation by assuring board members that SCV Water still acquires water for recycling from the Santa Clarita Valley Sanitation District.

“We do have an existing contract with the Sanitation District for 1,600 acre-feet per year,” Cole said.

An acre-foot of water is about the same as a football field submerged under a foot of water.

Sanitation district

Last week, sanitation officials announced they would not be pursuing recycled-water plans and, specifically, would not be preparing the environmental studies needed to make them happen.

They blamed litigation for the decision to scuttle those plans and for delays in their efforts to reduce the amount of chloride that ends up in the Santa Clara River.

The recycled water cited by the sanitation officials would have supplemented the amount of water they already send to SCV Water for recycling.

“This was news to us,” Cole said about the announcement. “The San District made a decision to withdraw their notice of preparation of (California Environmental Quality Act) documents.”

News of abandoning plans to furnish water recyclers such as SCV Water with additional amounts of water placed the leadership of local recycling squarely with SCV Water.

Lead agency

“In that resolution, it recognized our agency as the lead agency in recycling water,” Cole said.

“This agency is going to have to figure out what role we want to play in that leadership position,” he said. “And, I think we are well suited for it.”

With that introduction, Cole unveiled the Next Drop strategy.

“As more demand comes on line — where there’s more discharge coming from new (housing) development and new connections going into the sanitation district — we can capture that water before it goes into the river and put it into the recycled water infrastructure.”

Once officials obtain the required permits needed to carry out the plan they would then have to come up with a way of measuring the amount of water earmarked for recycling.

They would also need an engineer’s report on the water-acquiring process.

“We’ve been hard at work on the next steps, which involve establishing how much water is being generated that we can capture,” Cole said.

Cole’s presentation followed an update by Chief Engineer Brian Folsom, explaining SCV Water’s existing recycled water projects.

The first phase of SCV Water’s recycle plan involves pipes that convey recycled water to be used on the grounds of the Oaks Club at Valencia golf course.

Phase 2 plans

At present, the SCV Water agency is pursuing Phase 2 of its recycling plan, which involves putting in pipes for four specific areas that include:

  • Central Park. Between 480 and 560 acre-feet of water per year will be used to water Central Park, Bridgeport and Heritage Park as well as the landscape areas at Valencia High School.
  • Vista Canyon. About 300 acre-feet of water per year will furnish Fair Oaks Park and Fair Oaks School.
  • South End. About 1,274 acre-feet of water will be used to water landscape areas at College of the Canyons, California Institute of the Arts, Vista Valencia Golf Course, Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital, Hart High School, Placerita Junior High School and Newhall Park.
  • West Ranch. About 211 acre-feet of water is earmarked for West Ranch High School, Rancho Pico Junior High School and Oak Hills Elementary.

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