By Nicole Stanfield

On Tuesday, February 19, 2019, The San Juan Capistrano City Council voted unanimously to enter exclusive negotiations to transfer the city’s water and sewer utility to Santa Margarita Water District (SMWD).

After an extended competitive process, Santa Margarita Water District was determined by the City Council to be the best water district to provide local water supply reliability, rate stability, infrastructure improvements and customer service. Another element in the District’s favor was its stated intent to collaborate with South Coast Water District to efficiently serve the residents of San Juan Capistrano.

“We’re pleased that we were selected to enter into these negotiations with the City,” said SMWD General Manager Dan Ferons. “We look forward to serving the residents and businesses of San Juan Capistrano.”

At the council meeting, nearly a dozen San Juan Capistrano residents spoke in support of SMWD’s balanced approach. Among the issues that were important to the public were, Santa Margarita Water District:

  • Has one of the lowest water loss rates in the region.
  • Invested in local water supply projects and plans to get 30% of its water from nonimported local sources within the next decade.
  • Proposed investing more than eight times as much money as their main competitor in the repair and replacement of San Juan Capistrano’s aging sewer and water pipes.
  • Is developing the San Juan Watershed project in San Juan Capistrano, which will capture and treat water in San Juan Creek and, through an interagency partnership with South Coast Water District, SMWD will maximize the use of the city’s groundwater recovery plant.

Santa Margarita Water District staff will begin working with City of San Juan Capistrano staff immediately to develop a negotiated agreement the two agencies can bring to the Orange County Local Agency Formation Commission (OC LAFCO) for consideration and approval later this year.

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