City of Camarillo Celebrates Milestone During Desalter Groundbreaking Ceremony

Camarillo, California – The City of Camarillo held a groundbreaking ceremony on September 11, 2019, to celebrate a major milestone: the start of construction of the long-awaited North Pleasant Valley Groundwater Desalter. 

After 25 years of studies, planning, hearings, revisions and regulatory approvals, the City of Camarillo has hired W. M. Lyles Company to build the groundwater desalter. Approximately 80 people, including elected officials, past and present, along with consultants and laborers and City staff members who comprise the project team, joined together for brief remarks and a short ceremony to officially break ground on this much anticipated project.

During his introduction, City of Camarillo Public Works Director Dave Klotzle shared one of his most perplexing thoughts during his own journey to move the City to where it is today. “The fact that such a simple concept of transforming unusable brackish groundwater into a local source of high quality and affordable drinking water, while removing salts from the regional watershed, is actually a very, very complex undertaking,” Director Klotzle said. He praised the commitment and persistence of the many individuals and agencies who have worked together to bring this remarkable project from concept to shovels in the ground ready to build, specifically recognizing the tremendous efforts of former Public Works Director Tom Fox and his tireless work and dedication on this groundwater desalter.

Mayor Kevin Kildee remarked that less than half of the water served to City water customers comes from local sources. “The groundwater desalter will double Camarillo’s water supplies from local sources. It will produce 3.4 million gallons per day of high quality water, treated at the source, for City of Camarillo water customers, which will significantly reduce the amount of costly imported water from Northern California,” said Mayor Kildee. 

Councilmember Charlotte Craven spoke to the 25-year-long journey of this project, from concept to groundbreaking, the commitment of the City Council and City staff and the project team to work through complex issues, funding dilemmas, and logistical quandaries to bring this project to fruition.

Vic Nguyen, Southern Regional Chief of the California Department of Water Resources (DWR), shared DWR’s mission and described their role in making the project come to fruition. The total estimated cost of the project, including the treatment plant, 3 monitoring wells, 2,000 feet of water pipeline, and engineering costs is $66.3 million which will be offset by a minimum of $20 million in State and Federal grants. 

Construction of the groundwater desalter is expected to be completed in late 2021. The public will be invited to the ribbon-cutting to experience the new desalter site and sample the high quality water it will produce.

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