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Rancho Ortega Blog discusses matters of public interest in South Orange County, including the communities of San Juan Capistrano, Ladera Ranch and Rancho Mission Viejo.

The writings of Don Juan Ortega on the Rancho Ortega Blog are the personal views of the author. This blog is not authored by nor does it have any affiliation whatsoever with any other person, place or entity using the name "Rancho Ortega" (or any similar name).

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What is the Ortega Reservoir Project?

Earlier this week, we published an updated map of the Ranch Plan.  You might have noticed a large body of water noted on the map and labeled the “Ortega Reservoir.” See the map excerpt below:

Image source: OC Public Works

What is the Ortega Reservoir Project?  It is a joint development between the Santa Margarita Water District, Rancho Mission Viejo Company and the County of Orange.  When complete, the reservoir will offer 5,300 acre-feet of water storage, including reycled water, treated sewage water, urban run-off and emergency flood drainage.  That’s a big reservoir!  By contrast, the Upper Chiquita Reservoir is the largest domestic water reservoir built in South Orange County in the last half-century, and it stores only 750 acre-feet of water.  The reservoir would be constructed with a 156-foot-high main dam on the west side of the reservoir and a smaller saddle dam on the north side.  Both dams would be built using earth fill that was excavated from the Ranch Plan development.

It is unclear to us where the Ortega Reservoir Project stands.  From what we can tell, it has the support of the Orange County Board of Supervisors and Rancho Mission Viejo Company.  As recently as September 2013, in its comments on the draft San Juan Basin Groundwater Management Plan, Rancho Mission Viejo said “While the study reinforces a strategy for recharge of the groundwater, it should recognize ongoing efforts to implement a potential 5,000 [acre feet] recycled/non-potable water facility.  Also, this project has received support from the County Board of Supervisors for contributing storm runoff water as well as recycled water from the SMWD CWRP. This project would be the largest storage facility in the region of this type and should maintain a high priority for implementation.”  It is unclear to what extent the project has funding and is on schedule.  We’ve read some documents that woud suggest the Ortega Reservoir is 12-18 months behind schedule.  On the other hand, as recently as February of last year (according to this Prop 1E grant application), the Ortega Reservoir project was supposed to begin construction in April 2013 and be completed by December 2016.

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