SCV Water OKs purchasing recycled water from Vista Canyon

Completed Vista Canyon water factory. Lorena Mejia/The Signal

The city of Santa Clarita and the Santa Clarita Valley Water Agency entered into an agreement to have SCV Water purchase recycled water from the city for irrigation purposes, according to a SCV Water news release.

The recycled water would come from the city’s Vista Canyon Water Factory, which can produce up to 371,000 gallons of recycled water per day, according to the release. That equates to 415.5 acre-feet per year, or about 137 football fields filled with a foot of water.

“The use of recycled water is a key component of our conservation and water use efficiency programs,” said SCV Water’s Chief Engineer Courtney Mael in the release. “Every gallon of recycled water used results in a gallon of drinking water that can be saved for potable domestic uses.”

Recycled water, according to the release, is “highly treated wastewater that is used for non-drinking water purposes.”

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

Michael Villegas, assistant to the city manager for Santa Clarita, said that this partnership has been “a long time coming.”

“The water factory and Vista Canyon was built by a developer with the intent of it being turned over to the city,” Villegas said in a phone interview on Wednesday. “And then with the production of the recycled water, having Santa Clarita Valley Water being the only water agency within the city, it makes sense to partner with them to be able to get them recycled water.”

Villegas added that the agreement would not affect any current water usage within the Vista Canyon development.

SCV Water currently delivers 475.5 acre-feet per year to 13 irrigation sites across the Santa Clarita Valley, including a golf course, shopping center and street medians, the release states.

According to SCV Water’s website, the benefits of using recycled water in irrigation include:

  • A locally controlled, drought-proof water supply.
  • Less need to release recycled water into the Santa Clara River.
  • Environmentally responsible — the same concept that drives the recycling of bottles, cans and paper.

The website goes on to state that SCV Water has projects underway that would expand recycled water capacity to 10,000 acre-feet per year, or more than 3 billion gallons.

“While recycled water currently represents a very small percentage of our water supply,” added Mael, “we are excited to expand the use of recycled water to additional large landscape irrigation and industrial users throughout the Santa Clarita Valley.”

Recycled water has been delivered to the Santa Clarita Valley since 2003, according to the release, which added that the agency provides water service to approximately 75,000 business and residential customers.

The water factory’s ownership is currently in the process of being transferred to the city from JSB Development, the developer of Vista Canyon, according to Jim Backer, the president of JSB Development.

Vista Canyon President, James Backer speaks at 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

Vista Canyon is a 185-acre, mixed-use facility situated near Highway 14 and the Via Princessa off-ramp. The development houses luxury apartments, townhomes and single-family residences, as well as commercial space and more than 21 acres of recreation.

“It’s been a long process to get it here,” Backer said in phone interview on Wednesday. “We’re excited to have it be in utilization for the entire Vista Canyon project. We built the purple pipe system throughout the project so that the project could use this water, and the water that we’re not using is being utilized by SCV water off-site in some pipelines they built. We think this is, you know, a great thing to do for our residents, but also for the community.”

Those purple pipes that Backer mentioned were created solely for the purpose of moving recycled water. The pipes are designated by their purple color and “uses separate pipelines from the domestic drinking water system,” according to the SCV Water website.

Vista Canyon is also the home of the new Vista Canyon Multi-Modal Center, which opened in October and has its own Metrolink station, bus transfer station and other amenities to make the community more sustainable.

Backer said that the entire Vista Canyon development has a net-zero water usage, meaning the water factory creates more water each year than is used. He is hoping for more developments like Vista Canyon and further usage of the water factory, though perhaps with a faster timeline after it took nearly 14 years since the project was first discussed with the city.

“Development takes a long time, and there’s lots of reasons for it, but I think that we all need to do the best we can to plan for the future and improve on what we have now,” Backer said.

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