City expected to take over water factory 

Visitors and dignitaries gather for the ribbon cutting ceremony of the Vista Canyon project, five-story, 613 parking space parking lot in Canyon Country on Tuesday morning, October 27, 2020. Dan Watson/The Signal

Calling the move another “milestone” in moving forward for the Vista Canyon development, the city is expected to take control of a water-recycling plant at Tuesday’s City Council meeting.  

The move calls for the city to spend about $3.5 million for a five-year contract with PERC Water Corp. for the company to continue operations for the plant, which is part of the “net zero” infrastructure of the 1,100-home project northeast of Highway 14 and Lost Canyon Road, according to its developer.  

“The great benefit to the community I think is we’re transitioning it over to the city as expected in ownership, and it will provide … what’s considered a net-zero water project,” said Jim Backer, CEO of JSB Development, which built Vista Canyon, “which means the water factory’s going to produce more water on an annual basis than the entire project will use.”  

The plant is expected to create approximately 392,000 gallons of nonpotable, recycled water per year, according to the city’s agenda item on the facility. About one-third of that water will be used on site, and about two-thirds will be sold back to SCV Water, Backer said Monday in a brief phone interview. 

The original development agreement for Vista Canyon, which was approved by the city in 2011, called for the city to take over plant operations after the developer had built the plant and its operations had been certified, according to Jerrid McKenna, director of neighborhood services for the city of Santa Clarita. 

Last year, the facility completed its water hookups and storage tanks, and the plant has been online and operational, he added. 

“So now it’s kind of the appropriate time, now that all the conditions have been met in the original development agreement for the city to take over,” McKenna said, adding the plant has been fully operational for about six to nine months. 

The volume of water nonpotable created is expected to exceed the total volume used in potable (drinkable) and nonpotable water, Backer said, which is how the project earned its unique distinction. 

In addition to approximately 1,100 residences, including single-family detached homes, at buildout, the project will also offer slightly less than 1 million square feet of commercial development, a 10-acre park and four parking structures, according to the city. 

Backer said Monday that construction is ongoing, as the market continues to find its new normal. Nearly two-thirds of the residences are built and most are filled, he added. 

The water factory would generate approximately 439 acre-feet a year, according to the city, which equals about 392,000 gallons per day. For reference, an acre-foot is the amount of water it would take to cover a football field, which is about an acre, in one foot of water.  

The item on the City Council’s agenda also calls for a one-time cost of approximately $822,416 from a fund created for the project. 

The Vista Canyon development has also been praised for its commuter-friendly design — a Metro station is expected to be completed by the fall, according to Backer. 

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