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By Joe Naiman
Village News Reporter 

FPUD approves design contract for indirect potable reuse project


Last updated 3/13/2020 at 4:22am

The Fallbrook Public Utility District is pursuing an indirect potable reuse pilot project which would recharge recycled water in the Santa Margarita River basin. The pilot project will determine the feasibility of developing advanced purification facilities to treat existing water both from U.S. Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton and from FPUD, and the process will include design and other non-construction matters. On Feb. 24, FPUD’s board voted 5-0 to award a professional services contract to Hazen and Sawyer for $745,000.

Hazen and Sawyer, which is headquartered in New York but has a regional headquarters in Los Angeles and offices in Irvine and San Diego, will design the pilot treatment systems, assist with regulatory compliance, provide oversight to the operations of the pilot system and produce a feasibility report based on the results of the pilot study.

The project would place recycled water, which is currently discharged into the ocean, into the Santa Margarita River basin. The indirect potable reuse program would be separate from the Santa Margarita River Conjunctive Use Project but would enhance the additional supply provided by storing water in that basin.

“It would provide more water for the project that would be available to FPUD,” FPUD general manager Jack Bebee said.

FPUD and Camp Pendleton currently discharge approximately 2.6 million gallons per day of treated water into the Pacific Ocean through the Oceanside Outfall. The Conjunctive Use Project constructed facilities to convey water from the Santa Margarita River basin, so it is possible that water undergoing tertiary treatment could also be stored in the groundwater basin and later extracted and treated to meet potable water standards.

The current discharge total would equate to approximately 3,000 acre-feet per year should feasibility studies and permits lead to construction of an indirect potable reuse project. If the project is ultimately constructed treated effluent would be diverted to the existing Upper Ysidora percolation ponds and infiltrated into the groundwater basin.

The pilot project will consist of two pilot facilities and a tracer study. One pilot facility will be located at FPUD’s water reclamation plant and will be designed for livestream discharge to Fallbrook Creek.

The other pilot facility will be located at Camp Pendleton’s Southern Region Tertiary Treatment Plant and will be designed to convey treated water to the percolation ponds. The pilot project will determine the best treatment process as well as the feasibility of utilizing reclaimed water to augment groundwater in the lower Santa Margarita River basin.

“We will only proceed on this if it saves us money,” Bebee said.

Three companies responded to FPUD’s request for proposals for the professional services contract. An evaluation committee was comprised of FPUD’s senior engineer, Camp Pendleton’s environmental engineer, the Rainbow Municipal Water District’s associate engineer and the Rancho California Water District’s assistant general manager.

The evaluation team interviewed two firms Feb. 11; Hazen and Sawyer was deemed to be the better option for FPUD.

Although the estimated cost of the pilot project is $1,380,000, the state’s Department of Water Resources has a grant program for Integrated Regional Water Management projects and FPUD is slated to receive $687,500 for the indirect potable reuse pilot project.

The Dec. 3 Rainbow board meeting and the Dec. 9 FPUD board meeting approved a memorandum of understanding between the two districts to work with each other on new water resource development and emergency supply.

Rainbow will participate in the feasibility study including assisting in the development of technical data related to the district’s customer demands to identify the potential amount of water from the project Rainbow could use.

The pilot project studies will identify the expected allocation of flows, and Rainbow has agreed to fund 15% of the non-grant share, or $105,000.

FPUD has budgeted $700,000 over a two-year period for the pilot project and studies.

“It’s going to be over a year to work through everything that goes with this,” Bebee said.


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