About Us

Providing High-Quality Services Since 1964

Santa Margarita Water District provides safe, reliable drinking water, recycled water and wastewater services to over 200,000 residents in nine unique communities: Mission Viejo, Rancho Santa Margarita, San Juan Capistrano, and the communities of Coto de Caza, Las Flores, Ladera Ranch, Village of Sendero and Esencia, and Talega in San Clemente. The District is the second largest retail water agency in Orange County, by area, and third largest by customers served. 

Nearly all the District’s drinking water supply is imported from hundreds of miles away. Santa Margarita Water District is committed to reducing its dependence on imported water by investing in local, reliable, sustainable, and cost-effective water supplies for today and generations to come. 

Strategic Goals: 

  • Recycle 100% of the District’s wastewater by the end of 2019
  • 30% of drinking water supply from local sources by 2030
  • 6 months of drinking water storage by 2030

Mission Statement

The Santa Margarita Water District provides our customers with quality water and wastewater service – maximizing human, environmental, and financial resources – to help guide South Orange County’s water and wastewater needs into the next century.



SMWD Statistics as of March 2022
9.8 Billion gallons of high-quality drinking water served each year
2.8Billion gallons of recycled water used each year to irrigate common areas
237Facilities owned and operated by SMWD
71,254Acres within the District’s territory
111Square miles within the District's territory 
203,000Residents SMWD serves
62,050Residential connections
3,200Commercial connections
1,950Potable Irrigation connections
1,550Recycled Water Irrigation connections
1,745Miles of water and sewer lines SMWD maintains
432Domestic water storage (in million gallons)
29Domestic pump stations
3Recycled water storage (in billion gallons)
15Recycled water pump stations
555Urban return flows collected annually (in million gallons)
10Average daily wastewater flows (in million gallons)
3Sewage treatment plants operated by SMWD: Chiquita, Oso Creek, & Nichols
21Sewer lift stations

The Santa Margarita Water District (SMWD) was formed in 1964 as a landowner district (Section 35306 of the California Water Code) by a group of ranchers who wanted to create a reliable source of water for their cattle. The first neighborhoods of Mission Viejo had not been built yet, and SMWD provided water to more cows than people.