"Everything is working fine so far," he said. "We have a lot of things
to test. We're now testing the controls, all the safeguards and the
operational valves in the facility. The facility will be run by a
state-of-the-art computer system, with safeguards in place to shut it
down in case of any problems. We're going to work out any bugs [to avoid]
putting them into the system."
The water district has worked for 16 years to clear up colored water
-- high-quality underground water that has a "weak tea" color and a
sulfur-like smell -- to its customers.
The treatment plant will use an ozone and biofiltration process to
remove the color and smell from the colored water, which is found in
aquifers between 600 and 1,200 feet deep.
Originally scheduled to open in September, then October, the
completion of the plant was postponed because of design changes --
including adding a well and improving the filters -- to double the
capacity of the plant, said Baldwin and water board President Trudy
The colored-water treatment facility -- originally planned to handle
up to 4,000 gallons per minute, enough to meet the needs of the city --
will be capable of pumping out 8,000 gallons per minute if the district
decides to supply the treated colored water to areas outside of Costa
Mesa in the future, Baldwin said.
Water districts are normally only allowed to pump 75% of its water
from underground aquifers, but the Orange County Water District in
October granted Mesa Consolidated permission to pump up to 100% because
the additional 25% will be colored water, which no other county water
district uses now.
Mesa Consolidated's plan to substitute treated colored water for
imported water will not lower rates immediately but should keep them
stable when surrounding districts' water bills rise, said Lynette Round,
a Mesa Consolidated spokeswoman.
Treated colored water costs about $320 per acre foot, less than
imported water, which averages $450, but more expensive than regular
ground water, which averages $157, said Ron Wildermuth, a spokesman for
the Orange County Water District.
In Southern California, an acre-foot of water is enough to supply two
average families with water for a year.
Aside from the fiscal benefits, the colored-water plant will also
protect the district from a water shortage, Ohlig-Hall said.
"We won't need to import water, even during droughts," she said. "It's
our own resource, plus it's excellent water."