The Santa Margarita Water District Board of Directors voted on October 22, 2021, to continue the effort to bring recycled water to the City of Rancho Santa Margarita (RSM) for the irrigation of parks, sports fields, community spaces, and to possibly fill the lake, Lago Santa Margarita. This is an important project and a milestone in SMWD's efforts to improve the sustainability of water resources for RSM and in the District. Every gallon of recycled water used for irrigation is a gallon of imported potable water that is available for higher, more beneficial uses such as drinking and bathing.
Today, RSM does not have access to recycled water due to old regulatory mandates that were in effect when the city was built. Over the years, SMWD has worked successfully to revise the restrictions to allow for the use of recycled water throughout the community. We are ready to begin and over 80% of RSM residents voiced their support for the conversion, according to a recent poll.
California experiences droughts regularly, much like the one we are in now. SAMLARC and other associations were great partners in reducing water use to meet State requirements during the last drought. Many of the changes they made in their irrigation practices were permanent. Today, should the state impose mandatory restrictions, these associations will not have the same opportunities to reduce without severely impacting landscaping and quality of life. This is where the conversion of irrigation to recycled water pays off.
This project involves constructing all the infrastructure – pipelines and pump stations - needed to provide recycled water to the green spaces in RSM. The phased construction will begin at the end of 2022 and take 24 to 36 months to complete. The cost of the project is $42 million and may be paid through property taxes at a rate of approximately $150 to $195per year. The District will apply for grants, rebates and low-interest loans that will reduce the overall project costs to homeowners.
We are excited about this landmark initiative and eager to begin the work that will make RSM water sustainable now and for generations to come.