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Advanced $107m water treatment plant in California nears completion

The famous Orange County in California is set to get a new multi-million dollar water treatment plant in a bid to create another water source for the arid region.

Five water districts around the area have joined together to fund and build the $107 million (€100m) Baker Water Treatment Plant, which is expected to begin operation in January.

The plant is estimated to provide 28.1 million gallons of drinking water to 63,300 homes, Irvine Ranch Water District officials were quoted as saying in the Orange County Register.

Joining Irvine Ranch in the project are the Moulton Niguel, Santa Margarita, Trabuco Canyon, and El Toro water districts.

According to Joone Lopez, general manager at the Moulton Niguel District, grouping together to provide a second water source for the county, which relies completely on water imports, was “absolutely critical”.

“Not one of us could have done this alone. We’re sharing not only the funding, but the resources to find a solution to enhance reliability in south Orange County,” Lopez said.

The Baker plant was been in the plans for ten years, and construction was finally started in 2014. Final checks are now being performed before commissioning.

The site includes six buildings, including three pump stations, a treatment building, a chemical building, storage and administration buildings.

At the plant, untreated water will go through advanced microfiltration treatment through membrane filtration technologies before ultraviolet disinfection treatment.

The result is clean water that meets stricter standards than current regulatory requirements, officials said.

Orange County relies currently on water from Diemer WTP in Yorba Linda, but officials in southern parts of the county wanted to diversify the area’s water sources.

“Damaged pipes are easy to fix, but a large plant on a hill with pumps could be out of commission for three to six months,” said Paul Cook, general manager with the Irvine Ranch district. “Two treatment plants would give South Orange County an additional option.”

But locals living near the plant have voiced concerns about accidents that could endanger residents in surrounding homes and about noise from the pump stations.

This article was written by Ilari Kauppila, editor at Fluid Handling International