Upper Chiquita Reservoir

The Santa Margarita Water District imports 100% of its domestic water supply and is committed to developing water infrastructure facilities to protect and enhance local supply reliability.

In response to this commitment, SMWD led the construction of the Upper Chiquita Reservoir to provide the region with substantial new water reserves to meet customer demand during disruptions of water deliveries to the District. These interruptions can be unanticipated or planned.

The Upper Chiquita Reservoir is located on the western slope of Chiquita Canyon, just north of the intersection of Oso Parkway and Los Patrones Parkway.  Completed in October 2011, the 244-million gallon Upper Chiquita Reservoir is the largest domestic water reservoir built in south Orange County in nearly 45 years.

Reservoir Facts & Figures

  • Storage capacity of approximately 244 million gallons of domestic water (750 acre-feet)
  • Surface area of approximately 17.8 acres
  • The first, large-scale emergency potable water reservoir built in decades in Orange County
  • A regional partnership between SMWD (lead agency), Moulton Niguel Water District, City of San Juan Capistrano, City of San Clemente and South Coast Water District

Reservoir Benefits

  • Capable of providing upwards of 168,000 families with approximately 200 gallons of fresh water a day for one week.
  • Included in the South Orange County Natural Community Conservation Plan, which designates habitat conservation and species protection measures to ensure an environmentally sensitive design.
  • Reservoir will not be visible from homes in local neighborhoods, including Las Flores and Wagon Wheel.
  • Earthen embankment will significantly reduce any visual impacts while traveling along Oso Parkway, SR-241, or Los Patrones Parkway.


  • Reservoir design conforms to the rigorous standards set forth by the State of California.
  • Safety features, including piezometers (moisture sensors), will continually monitor water levels and test for irregularities.