Most people don’t think much about water supply beyond turning on their tap or garden hose and expecting water to come out. Behind-the-scenes, however, is far more complicated. Fortunately for many Southern Californians, we have people on staff who think about water supply a lot.
Most recently, our firm principal Naveen Waney and associate Thomas Brothers have been thinking about water for the people of Camarillo. Our firm is fortunate to have teamed with engineering lead Brown & Caldwell and their partners (all of whom designed the highly complex process work) to create the North Pleasant Valley Groundwater Desalter Plant.
And why would Camarillo need to desalt its water, you ask? (Okay, pretend that you did.)
It’s an interesting story. Camarillo’s aquifer sits downstream from many other communities in Ventura County. As such, the salt bloom from all of that groundwater draining down to Camarillo sits under the city. Usable groundwater (i.e. water that wouldn’t taste like the ocean or rapidly kill plants) amounted to only 40% of the demand in Camarillo. The remainder had to be imported.
By creating a desalter plant, the city can use a reverse osmosis process to leach enough salt from the groundwater to significantly reduce its reliance on imported water (and not kill plants or gag its residents). The city expects to double the amount of water it can rely on from its groundwater supply with the North Pleasant Valley Groundwater Desalter Plant.
However, the appearance of water processing equipment doesn’t always make the welcoming statement a city wants to make at its gateway. And guess what – the highly visible North Pleasant Valley Groundwater Desalter Plant is located at the northern entrance to the City of Camarillo.
Fear not. In addition to thinking about water, Naveen and Thomas think a lot about attractive architecture. They worked with the community and its leaders to develop an architectural style that would complement the Spanish Revival buildings that are pervasive in Camarillo.
Using a style that blends traditional and more modern mission styles of architecture, our team created a design to house the plant’s engineered infrastructure, provide an attractive and welcoming gateway and even provide an educational visitor experience.
Stepping into the lobby of the plant, visitors see a window into the inner workings of the plant and have access to a large conference and education room.
The visitors and residents aren’t the only ones to benefit from this plant. California is known for its produce production, and Ventura County is a big contributor, with major crops like strawberries, citrus fruit, avocados, leafy greens and more. A reliable and affordable water supply is incredibly important for Camarillo’s farmers, too.
For Thomas, this project was personal. His in-laws own and operate a prolific produce farm in Camarillo, and Thomas even volunteers at their farmers’ market booths when they travel a little further south to market their wares. He understands the passionate and sometimes tenuous relationship between farmers and water supply and he was excited to work on this project.
The North Pleasant Valley Groundwater Desalter Plant marked our firm’s first foray into designing pleasing facades and people spaces for reverse osmosis facilities, but it’s not our last. We’ve already found ourselves working on a similar facility in Escondido.
At this writing, we’re happy to report that parts of the North Pleasant Valley Groundwater Desalter Plant are already occupied, and operation of the treatment equipment is initiated. We have the highest respect for the talented engineering team at Brown & Caldwell and are grateful that they included us in this project, but this effort certainly took more than just our two firms.
W.M. Lyles Co. did a great job constructing the plant, and they, along with Fleege & Associates, are also providing start-up services for the equipment. Water Systems Consulting provided construction administration services, and Separation Processes Inc. contributed its leading reverse osmosis system design skills. Inframark will operate the plant.
As Brown & Caldwell’s Project Manager Andrew Lazenby says, “This is a landmark moment for Camarillo’s long-term water future. We applaud the City’s visionary approach to reclaiming and reusing groundwater and doing so in a way that is both cost-effective for customers and beneficial to the environment.”
And in conclusion…what Andrew said.