By Fred Swegles 

Santa Margarita Water District invites South County residents to its annual Water Awareness Festival, a free, family-friendly event that this year will also offer public tours of the 177-acre construction site for Trampas Canyon Reservoir.

It’s a chance to see, up close, the construction site for Orange County’s largest recycled-water reservoir, being built by SMWD in San Clemente’s backyard, behind the Talega community.

The event will offer children a chance to meet not just Darth Vader, but Princess Leia and Ricki the Raindrop, the district announced in a news release. Attractions for kids will include bounce houses, reptiles, glitter tattoos, tide pools and rides on a fire truck. There will be free lunch bags, plus a chance to walk through a 5-and-a-half-foot water pipeline.

Trampas Canyon Reservoir will collect recycled water produced by as many as five wastewater treatment plants and store it as a regional resource. Photo: Fred Swegles
Trampas Canyon Reservoir will collect recycled water produced by as many as five wastewater treatment plants and store it as a regional resource. Photo: Fred Swegles

When completed in 2020, the $123 million Trampas Canyon Reservoir will be able to store 1.6 billion gallons of water collected from as many as five area wastewater treatment plants. Officials say it will allow SMWD to recycle and make use of 100 percent of its wastewater.

The reservoir is a reclamation partnership project with San Clemente, whose Talega community is served by SMWD. The district proposes to use some of the reservoir’s recycled water to recharge the San Juan Creek groundwater basin to produce a new local source of potable water. South Coast Water District is a partner in the watershed project.

At the water festival, residents can learn water-saving and leak-detection tips, water rebate information and gardening advice. Refreshments will include snow cones, barbecued hot dogs and water.

The festival, celebrating Water Awareness Month, will feature an appearance by Darth Vader and a giveaway of water sabers for children. Hours will be 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, May 4, at SMWD headquarters, 26111 Antonio Parkway in Rancho Santa Margarita.

The festival theme is, “May the 4th be With You!”

For festival details, visit smwd.com/festival. The water district is located along Antonio Parkway just south of Oso Parkway.

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