Drinking water will no longer be used to fill up a lake in Orange County. That’s in response to the severe drought. Instead, Lake Mission Viejo will use purified recycled water.
They’re calling it designer water because it’s being designed just for Lake Mission Viejo.
About half the lake is filled with recycled water, but the other half is drinking water, enough to supply 700 families a year and that’s about to change.
Lake Mission Viejo is roughly one and a half times the size of Disneyland, a place where boaters cruise, swimmers splash and fishermen drop their lines.
But every year more than 100 million gallons of water evaporate from the private lake and must be replaced. The question became at what cost?
“I think people were definitely aware that we had to find a solution fast,” said Eva Stark, a lake member.
The lake association voted to spend $5 million for a recycling plant like this one, but will purify the recycled water in three steps; microfiltration, reverse osmosis and ultra violet light. After that the water will go right into the 1.2 billion gallon lake.
“We’re not aware of anybody else doing anything of this nature for a recreational lake,” said Don Bunts, of the Santa Margarita Water District. “It is a rather unique approach.”
The formula had to be safe enough for fish and for people.
Kelly Peterson admits she rarely lets her kids swim here, but doesn’t want to think about the alternative.
“Probably necessary in a drought,” she said. “I think it would be a shame to let it dry up.”
The Santa Margarita Water District has been tasked with cutting back 24 percent of its water supplies. Once the new plant is up and running that will represent almost one fifth of the mandated cutbacks.
Lake officials say with the price of drinking water going up, in the end, the recycled water may eventually be cheaper. They estimate it will take six months to a year to bring that designer water on line.