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Turning wastewater to drinking water: Conejo Valley water agencies holding event to showcase effort

The Las Virgenes Municipal Water District, and the Triunfo Water & Sanitation District have a demonstration facility in Calabasas for their wastewater recycling project. It will be open to the public August 13.

The Las Virgenes Municipal Water District, and the Triunfo Water & Sanitation District hope to have an advanced water recycling facility in operation by 2028.

It’s easy to take for granted. You turn a knob, and there’s water. But, the drought has shown we need to think more about our water supply.

Some agencies which serve part of the Conejo Valley are on the cutting edge of water recycling. The idea is simple: turn wastewater into drinking water.

They have a demonstration facility on Las Virgenes Road where you can actually see the recycling in action.

"This is our Pure Water Project/Las Virgenes-Triunfo Demonstration Facility," said Riki Clark, with the Las Virgenes Municipal Water District.
"This is essentially our pilot project for the advanced purification process, which turns highly treated recycled water back into drinking water."

She says the district, and the Triunfo Water & Sanitation District are jointly working on the water recycling effort.

Riki Clark, with the Las Virgenes Municipal Water District, and Dave Rydman, with the Triunfo Water & Sanitation District with their demostration water recycling system.

She says by taking water which is already purified for things like landscaping and adding more steps to the process, the water can be purer than the bottled water you buy at the store.

Technology isn’t the issue. But, this type of recycling is expensive.

Dave Rydman is operations manager for the Triunfo Water & Sanitation District. He says with their partner, the Las Virgenes Municipal Water District, 100% reliant on state water project water, and with no other sources, recycling is critical. He says thanks to some government support, they've been able to move up plans for a large scale operation by two years, from 2030 to 2028.

"The Tapia Wastewater Reclamation Facility treats all the wastewater that's produced from Hidden Hills to Thousand Oaks," said Rydman. "We are hopeful that when this facility is constructed, it will supplement between 15% and 25% of our potable water supply."

But, money isn’t the only issue. It’s getting the public comfortable with the concept of drinking recycled water.

Clark said that's why they have a demonstration water recycling facility, on Las Virgenes Road. It’s a giant room filled with an L-shaped string of pipes and machines. The three step process takes already clean water and purifies it to the point that it's cleaner than bottled water. The goal is to do that on a large scale.

On Saturday, the water agencies are trying to get you to see the recycling facility, and to test the water. In fact, they are upping the ante, offering gourmet sorbet made with the recycled water, as well as gelato. They have tastings, tours, and family activities planned for this weekend.

The Pure Gelato event is from 1-4 p.m. Saturday. Space is limited. Link to register for the free event.

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral.